The line between live action and CGI becomes even more blurred as Steven Speilberg and Peter Jackson present the first movie in The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
Boyish reporter TinTin (Jamie Bell) buys a model of the ship ‘The Unicorn’ from a bits and pieces market stall only for the mysterious ‘sweetly’ named, Sakharin (Daniel Craig) to want to buy it from him; when TinTin refuses dastardly Sakharin resorts to kidnapping as The Unicorn holds an age old secret to the location of the original ship and its valuable lost treasure. On meeting the well-oiled Captain Haddock, an even greater ancestral secret is revealed and so begins a frenzied chase across air, sea and land that is at times so ambitious, that it’s all a bit hard to take in.
The Greatest thing to admire but at the same time distracting, is that The Secret of the Unicorn represents yet another landmark moment in the exponentially advancing world of CGI, and in the hands of Spielberg we are taken on an Indiana Jones-esque pulsating pursuit, that only the freedom of the medium can allow.
But this relentless quest scarcely pauses, which doesn’t allow any kind of true characterisation to be made, and it lacks the emotion and peril of a true adventure film.
Jamie Bell is good as the voice and makes TinTin far less proper and more heroic than the occasionally trying cartoon version. “Great snakes” though, really?
Andy Serkis, as the Whisky loving Captain does a good Scottish accent and provides most hilarity, no more so than in Haddock’s desert ‘cold turkey’ sequence.
Daniel Craig is more pantomime than genuine fiend as aristocratic Villain Sakharin, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost provide more merriment as the bumbling Thom(p)sons.
…oh, did I forget someone? Yes, loyal canine companion Snowy is as cute as ever.
There’s no real menace though in TinTin, baddies are pretty lame and are far more inept and dense than ever being intimidating, and any jeopardy is mild.
The constant changing of camera angles is at times nauseating and indulgent, and some of the physics defying action is a stretch for the imagination, even for an animated movie.
As a rip -roaring ride though, The Secret of the Unicorn cannot be faulted with some brilliant set pieces, through city streets and on ship decks; a ‘Dam busting’ continuous shot chase is a great action and technical highlight that simply would not have been possible in live action.
Producer Jackson made no secret of the freedom that CG offers for energetic direction and admitted to the temptation to do more and found it difficult to hold back. I think he was right, TinTin is a retina searing action spectacular that probably just needed to pause for breath once in a while for any greater depth of feeling to be achieved. As a trip though, that showcases the dynamic direction of Spielberg and the advantages of CG over live action, The Secret of the Unicorn is a thoroughly enjoyable journey.
7.5/10 Well worth a look!
Special mention to ‘Gibbo’ at http://gibbopool2003.wordpress.com/ for the lend!