“The bad news is that we have one bullet, the good news is that we have a bullet”
It is always a treat to watch fading legends we adore prove us wrong, as they dole out one more work of genius and sweep us off our feet. Spielberg is a legend, but by no means is he a “fading legend”. All doubts that were raised over his waning powers of direction, judging by his last few releases have now been put to rest with his latest release “The Adventures of Tintin- Secret of the Unicorn”. Herge’s baby-faced reporter Tintin and his faithful pocket-dynamo of a pup Snowy make a grand debut under the collaboration of industry heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. No strangers to technical innovation themselves, Spielberg and Jackson go all out letting their creativity run wild as they capture the cast and the gorgeous locales in live action motion-capture 3-D.
Right from its stunning opening credits that look similar to “Catch Me If You Can” to the final scene which hints at a sequel, there never is a dull moment. From the minutest of colors and expressions, to the larger-than-life action and explosions, each detail is finely captured and brought onto the big screen. Spielberg’s Tintin is one of his most weakly written characters but for a purpose, unlike Indiana Jones a Tintin like thrill-seeker for whom enough character detail had to be etched out for the viewers to have any sort of emotional connection. Spielberg in this case relies on Herge’s already created legend and throws us right into the action, which could irk die-hard fanboys of Tintin if they expected his story to be told right from fleshing out his character detail. I as a complete stranger to the world of Tintin was not much perturbed by being unaware of his exploits, I was not aware of the newspaper he worked for, I was blissfully unaware of his last name, if ever there was one, I had no idea of what his life was like, I had no clue of what drove him for his thirst of adventure. Yet, from the moment our hero is introduced I could not help but be enamored by his boyish looks and innocent charm, throw in the oh-so-cute Snowy who bowls you over with his antics into the picture and you could feel yourself rooting for this wonderful duo.
Tintin (Jamie Bell) is an inquisitive reporter whose purchase of a miniature ship earns him an enemy in Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), for the ship holds the key to a lost treasure that he feels is a rightful heir to. The location of the buried treasure is known only to the perpetually inebriated Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis in his second motion-captured performance of the year) a man whose alcohol induced stupor earns the disgust of Tintin and also saves his life. It is Captain Haddock’s strongly written character that drives the story forward, belonging to the lineage of Sir Francis Haddock (Andy Serkis) who in his attempt to save his men and the treasure earns the curse of Red Rakham (Daniel Craig). Captain Haddock recollects his grandfather’s folklore in a brilliant scene where the past and the present intersperse with one of the best scene transitions seen in recent times. If the first half introduces us to the failed Captain Haddock who believes has let down his family name with his wayward actions, the second half takes place in the gorgeous Morocco where Tintin helps Captain Haddock redeem himself. With fluid action sequences that has you on the edge-of-your-seats and beautiful imagery that leaves your eyes rich with colors, it is no crime if you go back to being a child whilst clapping and cheering for the trio of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock.
If the visuals are a feast for the eyes, then Spielberg regular John Williams’ score is a treat to the ears , right from the credits sequence it shifts the mood from tense, to racy to comical. Albeit there is no catchable theme music like there was for Indian Jones, the background score underlines the fact that it is film for all ages. The writing boasts of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Steven Moffat (The T.V series Sherlock) who infuse British humor and comic relief in all characters and especially in the bumbling policmen Thomson and Thompson (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg).
Spielberg is a master director who has done it all. He made us fear the sea, he made us love an extra terrestrial, he took us back to the early years when Dinosaurs roamed the earth free, he showed us the horrors of war, he made us root a conman, he left us teary-eyed as he narrated the story of one man’s fight to save a race against the Nazis. As the lights came back while the end credits started to roll, I felt Spielberg had this time introduced a hall of men and women to their childhood. Go on, watch this movie with your loved ones and go back to being a child, clap your hands and whoop with joy and guffaw like no one is watching. By the end of it all you will realize it was worth it.
Image source: http://impawards.com/