There have been many a time when I have tried to explain to non-believers about the magic of animation and how watching cartoons is not a childish thing, but a way to watch scenes and ideas that would be too difficult to show in live-action. It is a burst of limitless imagination, that is what animation is, and having just returned from watching the new Tintin movie, I could not emphasize this point more.
For starters, no person could ever play Tintin in real life- that hair style alone is an impossibility. Or Snowy with his brilliance. And don't forget Captain Haddock and Thompson and Thompson. Even someone like me, who was never really into the comic books, knows these characters. This is how iconic the characters and stories are. Millions of people have been fans of them for decades and decades, and to make a film with them, that must have been a huge risk. But the whole gang, headed by the one and only Steven Spielberg as the director have made such a comedy-action-adventure treat, in animation, that I am absolutely blown over.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn starts with Tintin buying a model of an old ship, the Unicorn, and almost immediately being approached by two men- the first a hassled American who warns him of some peril that is to befall him now that he owns the ship, and the second a slightly mean-looking Mr. Sakharine, to sell the ship to them. Tintin declines both these offers, and goes home with the ship and his trusty canine sidekick, Snowy. Being a journalist, he is instantly curios about this ship and starts looking up on its history, only to soon find himself into trouble with Sakharine and his henchmen. In all this, he meets the drunk and awesome Captain Archibald Haddock, and enlisting the help of the bumbling, but endearing Inspectors Thompson and Thompson, Tintin is on the way of unearthing the lost secret of the Unicorn and Haddock's ancestors.
The film is in the motion capture format. Jamie Bell plays the feathery fin-haired Tintin. I thought his voice suited the character perfectly- the youth, the instant love for an adventure. But as I had anticipated, he was not my favourite (what is his hair?). My first favourite was Captain Haddock, voiced by Andy Serkis. Serkis has officially become a veteran in his ability to portray characters using motion picture, but Haddock was such a departure from his usual more primitive roles, but no less amazing. He based it on a Monty Python-esque idea, which makes sense. He was funny and adorable and just heroic. Although I think the most heroic person, or well dog, was Snowy. I am a person who is terrified of dogs in real life, but even I wanted Snowy. He was so good and a true best friend. Serkis joked about playing him, but Snowy was a proper animated character in all this, and he had some truly incredible stunts in the film. My world revolves around Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, when they are paired up. And they played one of the most famous, stupid but sweet and somewhat competent, pairs in fictional history- Thompson and Thompson. How could I not love them? Daniel Craig was the baddie in this, which was very cool, I thought. Sakharine was a proper twisted villain in my eyes. Finally there was Toby Jones as a pickpocket giving both the Thompsons a lot of grief, and Cary Elwes was there as a pilot. I say that because I love The Princess Bride and try to bring it into any conversation/post/whatever possible. Hurrah for the cast!
I have never been more excited by writers in a film ever like this. So there is Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffat. Wright is responsible for films like Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and he wrote Hot Fuzz with Cornish. I think these are some of the funniest, most original and in one word- epic films of recent years. Last but not the least, there is Moffat. In case I haven't spoken about this enough, I am going through a massive Doctor Who-craze right now, and I started with the latest Doctor, played by Matt Smith and written by, you guessed it, Steven Moffat. Moffat also wrote Sherlock, which is also a brilliant series about another iconic fictional character like the Doctor, and well our boy Tintin. It is funny now that I think of it, but I explained my reasons for liking Doctor Who as the same for liking Indiana Jones, who is one of the truest Spielberg heroes. I honestly think of Wright and Moffat as geniuses, and I think they handled the script very well. There was even a "GERONIMO!" from Haddock, which is a Doctor expression. It was funny and witty, and I suspect filled with Tintin references because the Tintin enthusiasts sitting behind me had their "Ooos" and "Aaaas" moments. There was never a dull moment, or well one to take a deep breath once the action started. And it was fun.
Finally we come to Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Jackson is a man who I revere for his passion and ambition. I never really understand the proper role of a producer, except that he must have really been thorough with everything that went on and was an integral part of the process. I touched upon Indiana Jones before, but seriously, I don't think I have ever felt thrill like this since having seen an Indiana Jones film. Yes there is Pirates of the Caribbean, but the many films chose to focus on the other characters too much. I am of the opinion that if Tintin, Snowy and Haddock were one person, minus the drinking habit, they would have been Indy. But that's just my thought. It was very exciting, and had those sequences that no one could premeditate where they would finally end. Or atleast someone like me who hasn't read the comics. There were fantastical action scenes, which were such a joy to watch. It made me get lost within the film, and Spielberg is one of the only directors who can manage that. And this is only the first animated venture of the celebrated film maker.
I must talk about the total experience while watching the film. I honestly did have inhibitions about not liking it a lot as I am not a fan. As brilliant and thrilling the film was, I had one of those rare cinematic experiences where the reactions of the rest of the audience enhances the whole viewing process. The last time that happened was when I saw Inception, but in that the audience only clapped right at the end, with the top spinning (or stopping?). In Tintin, first people were a bit noisy and I was getting a ever-so-slightly bugged. But once the lights finally dimmed, everyone was so full of glee and having so much fun, it was hard not to be affected by it. The Tintin enthusiasts were enjoying themselves the most I think, but all the comedy bits and the extraordinary sequences had everyone laughing and clapping and cheering. It was delightful!
Concluding, I urge everyone to go watch it. I don't know if the Academy will give this an Oscar nomination for Best Animated feature, but if any film deserves it, and the statue too, it has to be The Adventures of Tintin. I was no fan, but I was completely enchanted by the adventures of the boy reporter and his excellent friends. I think being a fan will be only so much better.