Review: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

“How’s your thirst for adventure, Captain?”

The Adventures of Tintin is a performance capture adventure film starring Jamie Bell (The Eagle), Andy Serkis (Burke & Hare), Simon Pegg (Run Fatboy Run), Nick Frost (Attack The Block) and Daniel Craig (Casino Royale). The film is directed by Steven Spielberg (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial).

Combining the stories of The Crab with the Golden ClawsThe Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, the film depicts Tintin’s first encounter with Captain Haddock and the discovery of a clue to the treasure of his ancestor Sir Francis Haddock. They set out to find it with protection from a prison escapee who tried to get the treasure as well as Detectives Thompson and Thomson.

Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship.

I’ll be honest when I say I wasn’t the most excited for this film. Not because I have a strong attachment to the original Tintin sauce material but I just didn’t ‘feel’ for it. Then the trailers got released and that didn’t help, I clearly wasn’t feeling the hype that was being surrounded by it. I think it was the aspect of performance capture.

With that on-board lets delve in shall we. I think it was a smart idea not to try and make Tintin as a live action film, I think if that was attempted it would of been a big fail! However, it’s use of performance capture did not impress me much. I think full CGI could of been better.

The cast selection was very good, I think every character was voiced very well and that they complimented who they were portraying. Andy Serkis as Captain Archibald Haddock was rather impressive, you feel that Serkis was enjoying the role and that comes through. Jamie Bell as Tintin I felt was standard, not acting out of his means. Daniel Craig’s Red Rackham was also decent and unrecognisable, I had forgotten that it was Craig playing the villain of the film. My particular highlights were the comic police duo of Thompson and Thompson who were being played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I think this was largely due to the fact that Edger Wright wrote there respected script lines. And also the personality shown in Snowy, Tintin’s trusty doggy sidekick.

The film had great action set-pieces and the scenery did look very rich and often spectacular that would rival any Pixar animation. In detail the sea looked stunning when on screen. This was also heightened because I naturally went to the 2D showing. 3D still has no place for me what so ever!

I still have a major gripe with performance capture though, I don’t think it looks good when trying to convey human characters. It’s trying to look real whilst at the same time looking worse than a dedicated CGI effort. I made sure to pay close attention to the facial details, A) the mouths still didn’t look ‘natural’ enough when dialogue was being spoke, and B) THEY NEVER BLINK! I noticed this a lot. Look at the main characters and you’ll find they literally hardly ever blink at all. Something so fundamentally simple lets the whole film down.

A decent effort from Spielberg in terms of a semi-animation performance capture film, the action is great and cast fit perfectly but too much was let down on the capture side. Performance capture still feels extremely hollow. It’s still worth a watch and you could do a lot worse at the cinema at the moment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: