The Adventures of Tintin makes good on its promise

I don’t generally write movie reviews, but, given my previous posts on the theme, I can’t resist the temptation to weigh in on The Adventures of Tintin, the motion-capture feature film that premiered in North America last week. It was on my must-do list for the Christmas holidays and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

My personal interest in Hergé (Georges Remi) and his beloved graphic-novel character began when I was a child, with a series of books I checked out repeatedly from the Leamington (Ont.) Public Library. There, on the bottom shelf in a metal stack in the library’s post-Carnegie addition, was a small collection to which I returned often. My first encounter with Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and the rest of Hergé’s characters was in Explorers on the Moon. Only later did I discover its prequel, Destination Moon, and the rest of the Tintin volumes.

Much has already been written and said about the famous Belgian author and his career. The most authoritative is French author Pierre Assouline’s biography, Hergé: The Man Who Created Tintin. Attendant to the film’s release in English Canada (it opened in Quebec earlier — a bow to Tintin’s popularity in French culture), Assouline appeared on the CBC Radio 1 program The Current, with Anna Maria Tremonti, on Dec. 21. The podcast of that radio interview can be heard here.

Similarly, much has already been written about director Steven Spielberg‘s use of motion-capture technology to cast stars such as Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig in this film’s starring roles.

It suffices to say that The Adventures of Tintin was a thrill, and cancelled my doubts about whether the books could really be successfully adapted to the big screen in a way more pleasing and true to the spirit of both Hergé and his creations than was the animated TV series from the early ’90s. Tintin aficionados, however, will recognize the fact that script of the current feature film is really a composite creation of three different Tintin books: The Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Crab With the Golden Claws.

That fact notwithstanding, The Adventures of Tintin is the truest rendition to date of the spirit of Hergé’s boy reporter and his accompanying cast of characters. It was a joy to watch, offering a warm, two-hour soak in a reverie of distant childhood. The film’s end portends a sequel, likely based on Red Rackham’s Treasure as a starting point. But my personal hope is that Spielberg, Peter Jackson and their other collaborators would someday get around the Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon — partly for old times’ sake and partly for the creative possibilities those plots would open to the filmmakers.

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