The Adventures of Tintin opens with a classic Sherlock Holmes style plot where Tintin, voice-acted by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong, Jumper), purchases a seemingly innocent model boat known only as the Unicorn for one pound. Not one minute later, two strangers try to purchase the model, the first claiming that Tintin could be in danger if he keeps it. The second is a man named Mr. Sakharine, voice-acted by Daniel Craig (The Quantum of Solace, Cowboys and Aliens, The Golden Compass), who asks Tintin to name his price for the boat while the disgruntled former owner of the replica watches in awe at having missed ‘name your price’ by one minute. Tintin is a sleuth, and a curious reporter who can’t allow a potential story to go unwritten, so he keeps the boat and begins studying it. It’s here that shadows start following him wherever he goes. Tintin is a movie for all ages until one of the first characters we’re introduced to gets shot behind Tintin’s front door, distinguishing the film’s PG rating. A clue left behind by the deceased player leads Tintin to Mr. Sakharine’s place of residence where Tintin gets swept into the high seas with his fox terrier, Snowy hurrying to keep up while humorous twin English police officers, channeled by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (Frost and Pegg: Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, Paul), attempt to capture a thieving pickpocket played by Toby Jones (Captain America: the First Avenger, The Mist, The Rite) who adds to the complexity of the situation. Having been captured aboard a large merchant boat, Tintin befriends the wily Captain Haddock whose boisterous nature is brought to life through Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Flushed Away, Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Haddock is a drunkard who, as he sobers up, remembers less and less about his life to the point where he can’t even remember Tintin after the two have travelled for days through ocean, air, and desert, making the task of getting Haddock to remember an important story his grandfather told him as a child next to impossible as Sakharine hurries to collect the final of three scrolls Haddock’s grandfather left to guide his heir to his treasure’s final resting place.
Actors beware: the animation is pristine and every detail of each character is mapped so well – the lines and creases in the characters’ facial inflections, the hair hanging from Haddock’s cheeks, and the intricate fluff of ginger on Tintin’s forehead – at times it’s hard to believe you’re watching an animated feature. Writers Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Dr. Who, Coupling), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Grindhouse, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World), and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block, Adam and Joe’s American Animated Adventure, Adam and Joe go Tokyo) bring a unique and nostalgic blend of mystery, storytelling, and action to the table that we so rarely have the opportunity to experience with today’s distracted, high-paced society. It’s all done under the imaginative direction of Stephen Spielberg who provides the perfect medium for translating the 1930’s comic to a soon-to-be modern day classic. The Adventures of Tintin is a fun family movie that, while noisy and explosive, does not venture deep into the realm of violence, and remains entertaining for viewers young and old. However, for those who are wary: Captain Haddock might pick up a bottle or ten.
4 out of 5 Stars (4.30)