As it was directed by Steven Spielberg and animated by Peter Jackson's Weta Digital studios, my expectations were high, and I was not disappointed. The film uses the revolutionary new technique of motion-capture animation, and thankfully the technology has developed enough to have a pleasant effect. Early efforts to use this animation technique, in which characters are modelled on real actor's movements tracked by a computer, had the disturbing result of the characters looking dead-eyed. I was happy to note that the characters in Tintin were not creepy and instead looked very lifelike. I watched the film in 3D, and it was effective without being distracting.
Having fond memories of watching the animated series of The Adventures of Tintin as a child, I took my brother to see this film, and would highly recommend it to any parent or older sibling taking a younger child to the movies. It would be great for the whole family.
The adventure begins with the introduction of Tintin, the central character, a young Belgian reporter famed for his investigation skills. This information is worked into the plot quite nicely, by means of other character's conversations and the mise en scene of the film (when we see Tintin's house, we realise just how many mysteries he has solved from the many newspaper articles detailing his success on the wall). The character of Tintin in this film stays true to the original character; a young man who has strong morals and an interest in mysteries, as well as a talent for landing himself in trouble. Other notable characters are introduced, such as Thompson and Thompson, the bumbling, incompetent Interpol agents, and the most important character in the film -aside from Tintin himself- Captain Haddock. The Secret of The Unicorn explores how Tintin and his good friend the Captain meet for the first time, and develop their friendship through adventure.
The pacing of The Secret of The Unicorn is done well, giving plenty of excitement and action, whilst never feeling rushed. I never felt as though I was being swept along in a story I no longer understood, which can sometimes happen in light hearted adventure stories. The film gave enough time to explain the mystery and allowed itself to breathe; even creating moments where the tension left me holding my breath, hoping that Tintin would make it. Having said that, the action sequences themselves are lively and visually breathtaking, and I still can't decide whether I prefer the plane scene or the dam scene more; you will know what I'm talking about when you see it.
The story itself was fascinating, with something for everyone- without spoiling too much, the film involves a treasure hunt which spans across the globe and allows Tintin, his dog Snowy and Captain Haddock to get into plenty of trouble whilst cementing their friendship. If anything, the story is more Haddock's than Tintin's, and it was interesting to see the development of Haddock and his ultimate success.
If I was to say anything negative about this film, it would be that I felt the additional side-story involving a pickpocket wasn't really necessary. It added to the story and gave Thompson and Thompson a reason to become involved, but I think the film could have done without it. It was a little bit on the long side, and I felt as though the film could have been wrapped up a little sooner; however I must admit I enjoyed every second.