It was with some delight that I noticed a trailer for a new movie called "Adventures of Tintin" coming out around the holidays. The animation looked a bit weird, and I was very afraid that it would flop.
But I needn't have worried. This Steven-Spielberg-produced movie hits all the right notes.
I've got to tell you right out that it just feels an awful lot like the first or third Indiana Jones movies. A high adventure action picture, but putting the characters through stunts that couldn't possibly be done by live humans. And, featuring a trained dog or two, as well.
I had recognized the name of Tintin from an old Disney Adventures reprint book back in the day. My library had a junior section and one rainy day, I stumbled upon this serialized comic strip and read the installment with great interest. To my surprise, it is the same story the movie now tells...the Adventure of the Unicorn!
Tintin was drawn and published by Herge in Belgium during the 1920s through the 50s. During WWII, Herge had to shift his Sunday funnies villains from the Germans (who had occupied Belgum) to a wild adventure strip...and the Adventure of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure resulted!
The movie is quite faithful to the storyline, even if it has excised the few black-face visual jokes that tended to pop up in Herge's work. It was a product of its time, and reflected a more simpler, less P.C. era....when breaking and entering by the hero was acceptable in pursuit of a story or the treasure.
The movie grafts the final two pages of Red Rackham's treasure onto the end of the Adventure of the Unicorn (it's a sunken ship) for a very satisfying tale that could lead on into another sequel.
But for some reason, U.S. audiences are lukewarm to the movie. It was Belgian, but doesn't feel that way now. The 3-D animation is good, with breezes blowing the hair and waves of the hero, some terrific fight scenes, and frantic chase and action sequences.
It would be a shame to let this family picture slip away without sharing it. It will certainly be a hit on DVD with the younger kids... I heard several laughing at the slapstick humor in spots. And there's a 2-D version if you're not into 3-D glasses. (We saw it in 3-D, which might help it and put you more into the action.)
[In case you're wondering, there were 21 graphic novels reprinted from the long running newspaper comic. They are still available...and a seven volume hardbound collection of 3 adventures each, though the detailed artwork gets a bit small to read. All are still around, if you want to teach a child to read comics. Just remember the title, Tintin in "The Adventure of the Unicorn" at your local bookstore.]
Oh yes, and for BIG fans of Tintin, the opening title sequence is very clever, mixing images from all 21 adventures in a swirl of stylized fight, exploration and detective scenes that might just set the stage for those unfamiliar with Tintin. (Reminded me of the recent movie opening title sequence in "Casino Royale" actually).
I guess the closest thing we have to Tintin today is the long running Dick Tracy newspaper strip, which gives you the idea of how it was originally produced. But don't miss this movie. It's a gem!