Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tintin will take all your moneyz - A Tintin review

Ladies and gentlemen, as the title says: Tintin will take all your moneyz. All of it. And you will give it over gladly, still completely bedazzled and thrilled from the spectacle you have just been witness to. I have just returned from a preview screening of this latest Spielberg offering, not to mention the first full length movie adaptation of my first childhood love, and all I can say is - great snakes.

More after the cut...
I don't even know how to begin, really. Where to start? The first thing that strikes, through the animated (cartoon, not animated live action) intro sequence is the inclusiveness extended to longtime Tintin fans and readers. The opening sequence references every major story arc in the Tintin universe, and even when the movie slides on into glorious, flawless live action animation, the absolute first thing you see is a street artist who is an obvious reference to Herge, Tintin's creator. There is so much love in this opening. And even throughout the story, sneakily slid into frame or blink-and-you'll-miss-it screen grabs, the movie rewards Tintin fans. There's plenty there for non fans, obviously - longtime Indiana Jones fans are going to suddenly learn where Spielberg learnt all his shenanigans from - but the respect for the fans is palpable.

Which brings me to my next point - there are changes. The action sequences, for the most part, are Spielberg creations, working within a Herge framework. And some of the most spectacular sequences are pure Spielberg. But the core - the story, settings, characters - are untouched, and so pure and faithful that it is wonderful. The movie owes a lot to the Nelvana Tintin series, in the best possible way, and I notice it mostly in Jamie Bell's Tintin. Even the intonations are similar. Though obviously more English and less Canadian.

The acting, to a man, is excellent. It's hard to not pile praises on Andy Serkis' Captain Haddock - and I'll admit to being nervy about this, since Haddock is so dearly loved by many, and knowing they were making him Scottish (what? What??) felt alien and worrying. He's perfect. Perfect. He commands every scene he's in, and the two sequences where he regains his memory are jawdroppingly fantastic.
And all credit to Jamie Bell - it can't be fun to know you're the straight man to Serkis's tried and tested brilliance. His Tintin in warm, smart, wary, and wonderful to watch. There's always the threat with the Tintin character that he can end up too vanilla-sweet, but this version reminds us that Herge's Tintin could use a gun, throw a punch and McGyver pretty much anything.

Daniel Craig is almost unrecognisable as Saccharin - he doesn't even vaguely have the physical shape of the slender academic with the sword-cane, but he does a damn good performance, and at no point did I feel like the actors looks or physicality intruded on the character, if that makes sense. He was completely enveloped.

I suppose my one criticism - and I'm not sure if it really is a criticism - would be Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thompson and Thomson. They did fine, but that was all, and I didn't feel like there was any reason they needed those two actors for the job. I couldn't even tell who was who. The alternate take on that is that Thompson and Thomson are very literally parodies - of British policemen, to be exact - so it's not like they had much to work with.

And without spoiling anything - there's an appearance by a much loved Tintin character that fans will squee all over. Promise.

And similarly without spoilers, there are multiple sequences that must be seen to be believed. One sequence in particular had the audience responding more than I've ever heard an audience respond to an action scene. At every stage it got bigger, more outlandish, more audacious. And it was done in one continual shot. Really. Just for this one sequence you should see this movie. It's truly fantastic.

What else can I say, really? It's wonderful. Faithful, audacious, brave, a masterpiece of acting, direction, animation. And it's just got heart exploding out of it all over the place. See it. Please see it. Best movie of the year, for me.


  1. Wow. Me and Elle are going to see this as soon as we can.

  2. When does it come out US-side, J?

  3. December 21st. One of those first few nights would be really cool.

  4. You had me at 'Tintin' :) Your review makes me want to see the movie once, wait a week, then see it again...

    I'm glad he kicks a bit of butt too: just because you wear a nice shirt with the collar out doesn't mean you can't bring it as well :)