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Tintin the boy reporter (Jamie Bell) stumbles on a piratical conspiracy when he purchases a model ship
In some respects - notably the use of CGI, performance capture and 3D technology - this movie version of Tintin is a very modern creature. However, look beneath all that and assess it by the arguably more important criteria of storytelling, character and dialogue, and you'll find that what we have here is an unashamedly good old fashioned adventure yarn, replete with exotic locales, kinetic set-pieces and a likeable young hero who says things like "great snakes!" with zero degree of fashionable irony.
Not that there's anything wrong with irony, but to encounter a computer animated film that plays its humour straight is a bracing tonic after overdosing on the quick-fire contemporary references of your Toy Stories and your Shreks. Certainly there’s less pop culture in Tintin’s DNA than we might perhaps expect from a writing team comprising Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Joe Cornish (Attack The Block, The Adam & Joe Show) and Edgar Wright (Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead).
You don't need to be a fan of - or indeed have more than a passing acquaintance with - the original Tintin comics to enjoy this film. Nevertheless, the filmmakers do their best to get fans on side from the get-go, with a nice joke where the movie's photorealistic CGI version of the young sleuth has his caricature drawn by a street artist bearing a passing resemblance to comic creator Herge.
Like the first episode of a sitcom you know you’ll grow to love, this feels very much like the first part of a franchise that could run and run. Performance capture presumably gives the producers greater flexibility around actor availability and even the possibility of recasting without disturbing their audiences as much as with live action. Could Tintin become a Junior Bond, recast every ten years or so and churning out adventure after adventure? It’s not completely far-fetched.
An entertaining start - roll on the next one.
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