Tintin fans can rest easy. Steven Spielberg has launched the intrepid cub reporter on a spectacular big-screen adventure that deploys the very latest 3D and performance-capture trickery but stays faithful to Hergé’s original comic books – right down to Tintin’s iconic ginger quiff.
The actor sporting this famous tuft of hair – in animated form, at least – is Jamie Bell and he’s backed by a stalwart supporting cast that gives the film a distinctly British accent, for all the story’s Francophone origins. Andy Serkis, the doyen of motion-capture performance, plays Tintin’s irascible sidekick, whisky-soaked sea dog Captain Haddock and gives a Scottish brogue to his tumbling cascades of invective; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up yet again to play bungling detectives Thompson and Thomson; and Daniel Craig is the dastardly villain of the piece, Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine.
The story, niftily woven together from episodes from three Hergé tales – The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure – sends Bell’s plucky young hero on a globetrotting treasure hunt after he buys a model ship from a market stall and discovers that his new possession contains a clue to the whereabouts of a long-lost fortune in pirate plunder.
Accompanied by his loyal Fox Terrier Snowy, Tintin embarks on a typically perilous enterprise that takes him from the storm-tossed oceans to the parched deserts of North Africa. Along the way, he hooks up with Captain Haddock for the first time and tangles with assorted thugs on land, sea and air.
There are breathtaking chases, cliff-hanging suspense and fearless derring-do, all of which give the action the same giddy, helter-skelter momentum Spielberg brought to Raiders of the Lost Ark. There’s humour too, courtesy of a trio of British screenwriters, Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock), Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim versus the World) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), who pepper the script with some neat visual and verbal gags.
They have particular fun with, yes, that quiff, allowing Spielberg to riff on some of his greatest cinematic hits. Watch out for the moments when Tintin’s hair almost gets caught in a plane’s propellers (Raiders) and when, just for an instant, it resembles a shark’s fin (Jaws). Forget, for now, any misgivings you may have about 3D or CGI, this is corker of a movie. With Peter Jackson reportedly at the helm of a sequel, roll on Red Rackham’s Treasure.
On general release from Wednesday 26th October.