Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

Halfway through Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Hergé's Tintin, I find myself getting distracted by the rosy-cheeked ginger handsomeness of the eponymous Tintin. I wonder briefly what a shrink would make of the crush I've just developed on a 3D computer graphic in the romantic confines of the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. 

It is no surprise I am at the cinema watching The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn 3D; I have a huge Tintin fan in the shape of my ten year old brother, who incidentally, is the reason why over eighty percent of my barely existent cinema appearances are to do with watching animations and other such child-appropriate movies, as opposed to my ever growing list of 'movies to see'.  Un Prophète, Precious and Black Swan are all somewhere on said list, and yet, every time I wind up at the cinema, it is to see such gritty, hard-hitting films, Megamind or Alvin and the Chipmunks (1 and 2!) with the young man. Don't get me wrong, though. I am, after all, a woman who ranks Lion King highly on her list of all-time favourites.  

That said, I marched to the cinema a fortnight ago to watch Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris by myself. I sat in the darkened screen room munching on salty popcorn and was delighted when I got talking with the person in the seat next to me after the film ended, an attractive middle-aged Parisian woman.

Having already established a rapport while the previews were on before the actual film started, I gushed in her direction afterwards, 'Marion Cotillard is incandescent in this film!' 
'She was even more hauntingly beautiful playing Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose,' she agreed with a smile.
'Wasn't she just?' I said smoothly. (I've never actually got round to watching that one, but as you know, it's on 'the list'. I'm sure Ms Cotillard portrayed her impressively.)

A general discussion on what we had just seen opened way for more intense talk about French cinema after the second World War. I must have been giving off a faintly intelligent air, because in the next moment - after I made reference to the heavily nostalgic slant of French heritage cinema in the 80's and 90's - she leaned over and said, 'Well, you sound like a real cinephile..tell me, what was the last film you saw at the cinema before this one?'

I squirmed a little in my seat. 'Erm. Smurfs.'

I'm sure the look she gave me was one of immediate disrespect. But that's probably the paranoia talking.

But surely, Tintin is in a different league, right? For Spielberg and Peter Jackson have recreated a story which captures the irrepressible boy reporter and his faithful dog, Snowy, at their mystery-solving best. In this adventure, Tintin and Captain Haddock are on a hunt for treasure that may or may not have sunk when a ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor, Sir Francis, went down. But the scheming Sakharine, whose pirate forebear was a long-standing enemy of Sir Francis, is also in search of the treasure, the clues to which are in three separate scrolls placed in hand-built models of the ship. Tintin has one, having purchased one model in a market stall for a pound; Sakharine has another, and plans to use the high-pitched operatic glass-shattering squeal of the Milanese Nightingale to get the third from the courtyard of a wealthy seikh in Bhaggar.      

A glowing, revolving Tintin and Snowy spotted in Brussels recently
You could say I hadn't particularly walked into the cinema with any expectation, except perhaps a slightly annoying voice in my head that told me I would dislike it, Tintin never having featured prominently in my cartoon psyche as I grew up. So I was surprised - often pleasantly - when:

-  I found myself thinking what a cute ginger lad Tintin is. With balls of steel.

-  I noticed that the large cinema was filled with a mostly adult audience. But this was no news. After all, adult readers of the Tintin stories have long enjoyed the references to history and politics within this comic space. So I was not exactly surprised when an elderly gentleman seated close to us even shushed my brother who was piping loudly in the quiet room, 'Day, are they really sure it's 3D? Does it seem like it to you?' to which I could be heard whispering back furiously, 'Must you talk so loudly?!'  

- less than fifteen minutes into the film, it became obvious that I would actually enjoy it.

- the bumbling Interpol twin officers, Thompson and Thompson with their exaggerated accents provided mildly entertaining moments

- I developed distinctly vile feelings towards the Milanese Nightingale for her affected mannerisms (It's obvious I react strongly where computer graphics are concerned).

- there was an instant warming to Captain Haddock, voiced by Andy Serkis, who delivers variously hilarious turns as Tintin's drunken ally.  

- I watched Tintin's gravity-defying quiff of hair with growing fascination. As I write this right now, every strand of my own hair is standing up at unfashionably weird angles because I just woke up, so excuse me if I experience a slight inferiority complex towards Tintin's perfectly tended tresses, the style of which is unperturbed even when he's crashing a helicopter in the middle of the Saharan desert. Does he use spritz?

- I couldn't take Sakharine's villainy seriously, probably because any time he appeared on screen, it reminded me of Daniel Craig  giving swoony fans an eyeful of well-pumped body in the Casino Royale scene where James Bond emerges from the sea in blue trunks. I have never seen a Bond film (now there's a fact which renders some of my friends speechless, and causes them to ask a stupefied, 'But why not???!' at which time I can almost see them searching my face for signs of possible extra-terrestrial  repossession of my body, why else would I have never seen at least one Bond film? I played the 007 game on Nintendo when I was younger though, I always add in a cajoling voice), but this particular scene was analysed and re-analysed so much at the time when the film came out that it was the first thing that came to mind when Sakharine (if you haven't guessed by now, he is voiced by Daniel Craig) made his entrance.

So that was tins of fun. Whodathunkit? Have you seen it yet? Do you think Spielberg and Jackson do it justice? 


Anita said...

My husband's dying to see Tintin! We haven't had a chance to go yet, though, but hopefully this weekend. I shall try not to get distracted by Daniel Craig..I mean Sakharine..;)

Diamond said...

I thought it was good. Not completely up to the hype, being a Speilberg production and all. But definitely enjoyed seeing it