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Review: The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin is a creation that has largely not made an impact on this side of the Atlantic, but the beloved creation of Hergé has been critiqued, studied, and read in Europe for the better part of several decades. In adapting the series into a new trilogy for modern times, the Holy Trinity of geek writers (Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish) have been brought in. The three very clearly hold the source material dear and what most moviegoers aren't familiar with could become a kid-Indy for future audiences.

After journalist, Tintin (Jamie Bell), purchases a model ship his life suffers a quick upheaval. His refusal to sell the ship to Sakharine (Daniel Craig doing his dastardly best) results in several murders and his kidnapping. Tintin awakens on a ship set for Morocco and finds that the ship that he has purchased is actually contained a map that could lead to untold fortune.

The crew of Captain Haddock (the inimitable Andy Serkis) have been paid handsomely to mutiny against Captain Haddock and his young boarders. Fortunately, Tintin's quick wit and talented dog Snowy manage to escape with Haddock in tow. As the two banter about Haddock's drinking and Tintin's slim resume on sailing, Haddock reveals to Tintin that his family shares history with the Sakharines. A combative history.

Over three hundred years ago Sir Francis Haddock was forced to abandon the Unicorn when attacked by a Sakharine, but before the ship was lost forever he managed to leave three scrolls throughout the world. If Tintin, Snowy and Haddock are to save the fortune and restore the Haddock family name, they must beat Sakharine to the locations of the three scrolls.

The trio's arrival in Morocco marks one of the most ingenious action sequences captured. It plays out like a Steven Spielberg Rube-Goldberg machine where wonder is freely flowing. This could never happen with the benefit of CGI or in a live-action film and it makes the one-shot all the more exciting.

A concern during pre-production of The Adventures of Tintin was the dead-eye that plagues all performance capture. Of course Spielberg and Peter Jackson addressed most concerns when Serkis was cast. A brilliant, if not mandatory, choice to play Haddock, hiring the most talented man in the field was a decision that must be made.

Fans of the source material may feel slighted as some of Tintin's characteristics are toned down to meet PG guidelines and series regulars like Thomson and Thompson (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) aren't featured to a great extent in the film. That's okay given how little they provide to the stories they are featured in. Whether the story succeeds in the U.S. is anyone's guess, but for the gifted animation and skilled cast, Tintin more than meets expectations.


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