With the audience treated as though they are already aware of the main protagonist’s back-story, the pace is set from the moment the young reporter sets his eyes on The Unicorn, the wonderfully tense and humorous noir of the first third complimented beautifully by the zippy dialogue penned by Best of British, Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.
Incredibly ambitious set pieces pepper the film, pulled off to perfection and never feeling repetitive. The detail throughout is exquisite, the way the light falls in each shot truly stunning and the movement of hair, dust and even spit unparalleled in its subtlety. But the most impressive moment of the film belongs to the Moroccan streets, with a chase Jason Bourne could only ever aspire to.
Regardless of the technical brilliance the film is shrouded in, its success is equally due to a cast that remain on the same level of intensity throughout, complimenting each other to perfection. Jamie Bell realises our hero flawlessly, never allowing him to become an irritating know-it-all and ensuring Tintin remains the grounded realist amongst such an extroverted bunch of caricatures.
From Gollum to Caesar and everything in-between, there is nothing Andy ‘King of Mocap’ Serkis can’t do. Providing the majority of the film’s comic relief as the larger than life Scotsman, there is a great deal of fun to be had watching a drunken Captain Haddock fail to recall important information, and the repartee with Bell’s Tintin (most notably in the desert) makes them a great, if not completely unlikely, double act. This is testament to the incredibly laborious work that has gone into making each character unmistakably unique, a perfect example being the blundering style of Captain Haddock against Sakharine’s (Daniel Craig) almost impossibly elegant swordplay.
Never self-indulgent and undeniably a massive labour of love for both Spielberg and Jackson, Tintin never takes itself too seriously, allowing us to be completely swept up in the mystery and madness. At times The Secret Of The Unicorn is almost excessively farcical, but being a non-stop rollercoaster ride, any expectations of the conventional would be futile.
With other 2011 films Hugo and The Artist praised for romanticising the origins of cinematic days gone by, Tintin should be celebrated for doing the complete opposite – pushing the boundaries of motion capture to produce a film that is as wonderfully old school in tone as it is technologically advanced in aesthetics.