The Adventures of Tintin – The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) – Film Review

Tintin's back...

Hergé’s Tintin has fascinated both readers and viewers for decades. The boy detective, alongside his trusty dog Snowy, has gotten himself into infinite moments of peril and danger, the most recent of which has been directed by none other than blockbuster supremo Steven Spielberg.

After some innovative titles and some clever references to the famous cartoon Tintin, The Secret of the Unicorn jumps straight into action. After buying a highly sought-after model ship Tintin finds his flat broken into and is soon kidnapped and stowed on board a huge container ship by the masterfully evil Sakharine (Daniel Craig). Here he meets the drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) who holds the key to unlocking the Unicorn’s secrets… if only he could remember how.

The film packs in some heady air miles in its 107 minute runtime and its visuals really are second to none. Utilising the increasingly popular motion capture technique, The Secret of the Unicorn is visually stunning and its chase scenes provide wonderful eye candy. Whether he’s battling the treacherous waves or suffering the blistering heat of the desert, Tintin does it in glorious style that is evocative of its cartoon counterpart.

Despite its potent mix of a well-loved comic and world-famous director, the film doesn’t pack as hefty a punch as one might expect from one scripted by the powerful combination of Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. Reminiscent of the rip-roaring adventures had by the likes of Indiana Jones, its storyline is captivating but the characters sometimes feel one dimensional, with Sakharine not getting enough screen time to shine as the film’s baddie.

Tintin’s constant companion Snowy provides an enjoyable watch in the testosterone heavy mix (only one female character has any real importance and she appears towards the end of the film) whilst Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do well as the bumbling Thompson and Thomson.

An enjoyable romp, The Secret of the Unicorn dabbles with that increasingly used open ending, leaving the Tintin franchise open for a sequel. Colourful and beautifully made, the adventures of Tintin will no doubt continue…


Best bit: Haddock’s sea-faring tales.
Best character: Snowy

#1 – When Spielberg first thought about adapting Tintin almost twenty years ago he wanted Jack Nicholson to play Captain Haddock.

#2 – It’s rumoured that the film’s producer Peter Jackson will direct the sequel…

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