- Cast: Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Cary Elwes, Daniel Mays, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost, Tony Curran, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Sebastian Roché, Jacquie Barnbrook, Phillip Rhys, Gad Elmaleh, Mark Ivanir, Sonje Fortag, Enn Reitel, Joe Starr, Kim Stengel, Ian Bonar, Ron Bottitta, Sana Etoile
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Writers: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Herge
- Producers: Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg
- Executive Producers: Ken Kamins, Nick Rodwell, Stephane Sperry
- Art Direction: Andrew L. Jones
- Castings: Scot Boland, Victoria Burrows, Jina Jay
- Costume Design: Lesley Burkes-Harding
- Editor: Michael Kahn
- Makeup: Tegan Taylor
- Music: John Williams
"The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" is the first in the series of 3D motion capture films based on the iconic character created by Georges Remi, better known to the world by his pen name "Herge" and is due for release in 2011. The film stars Jamie Bell as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure, and Daniel Craig as the nefarious Red Rackham.
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Filming Locations: Wellington, New Zealand
- MPAA Warning: Adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking
- Production Budget: $130 million
- Production Companies: Nickelodeon Movies, Amblin Entertainment, Kennedy/Marshall Company, WingNut Films
- Production Schedule: March 2009
2011 Guide Analysis: "With the studios content on feeding from the seemingly endless trough of talking critter movies, even Pixar is slumming it this year with "Cars 2", it's up to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson to bring some inventiveness to the animation genre next year with this awkwardly titled first entry in a planned trilogy of films adapted from the famous Belgian comics.
"Tintin" is an unusual property for its inverse appeal you could call it. Comics in general sell very little outside the United States, with only the odd title like a Batman or Superman really establishing a foothold globally. "Tintin" was the opposite, a title that's still barely known within the United States and never went beyond a small cult niche there with much of that coming from the watered down kiddie animated show version. On the other hand for much of the 20th century, Herge's work was a staple in many households in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.
Fusing well-paced adventure, mystery, political thriller and frequent character-based humor, Herge's 23 completed stories published from the 1930's through to the mid-1970's were wide appealing enough for kids yet still explored rather adult issues of drug smuggling, slavery, forgery, espionage, Government corruption and the control of oil resources. Despite being politically incorrect at times (especially in the very early books which are replete with colonialist attitude), many of the stories are produced with a very cinematic style and were a big influence on Spielberg when he came up with "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
So we come to this film and the big question is will it work? In terms of talent behind the screen, there couldn't be any finer. Simon Pegg & Nick Frost as Thompson & Thomson is perfect casting along with Bell and Serkis, while even small supporting parts are populated by the likes of Daniel Craig, Daniel Mays, Toby Jones, Tony Curran, Mackenzie Crook and Kim Stengel.
Spielberg's directing, Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy are producing, John Williams is doing the score, while beloved filmmaker Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Scott Pilgrim") and current "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" showrunner Steven Moffat adapted the script. While the use of mo-cap animation didn't enthuse many who wanted a live-action take, it has allowed the filmmakers to preserve Herge's unique style of artwork while updating it with more realistic textures.
That does bring up concern of the 'uncanny valley' effect seen in many of Robert Zemeckis' films ("The Polar Express," "A Christmas Carol") where the realism becomes disturbing to watch. The first batch of stills certainly raised my concerns sharply about this, but thankfully further stills have hinted at a more stylised take. Still, none of the shots have yet shown a full on facial shot of Tintin himself, and a LOT will depend upon how all of this looks in motion.
Internationally the film has a solid chance. Set to open in October throughout much of the world, the brand name awareness is already well in place and the anticipation is already there as it's one of the few remaining comic properties familiar to many that has yet to see a major film adaptation onscreen. The age of the property could have an impact, Tintin isn't anywhere near as big amongst the current younger generation as it was to those of us who grew up in the 80's and 90's. Still, expect this to have a long life throughout October and November.
In America however is where the real war will be fought. A battle not just of brand awareness but a shameful amount of wilful ignorance on the part of the geek community which usually has no problem rallying behind comic titles far more obscure and much more third-rate. You couldn't read an article about the film in 2010 without at least several comments decrying their beloved gods Spielberg and Jackson were working on a film they assumed to be something along "My Little Pony" lines because of the use of the word 'Unicorn' in the title. In fact, at a set visit I attended last year a writer for a certain blog known for being higher brow and knowledgable about what they write seemed to take pride in that ignorance. I love my news writing brethren, but on rare occasion the odd comment like that makes me want to grab one of them by the balls and squeeze painfully hard - harder than usual anyway.
Many still have zero idea of even the general tone of the property, which means Paramount has to 'hit it out of the park' as it were with the first trailer and really demonstrate the scale, the sense of adventure, the fun and the characters. It's much more an uphill battle, but one that could pay big dividends should it succeed. The one obvious hurdle I hope they can overcome is that this is one of the quieter and weaker works in the series, lacking the epicness of the other two-parters or the sheer brazenness of many of the standalone works."