As most of you know, I’m a pretty big fan of Steven Spielberg’s directorial ability. I also grew up loving Hergé’s masterful Tintin books, and have a lot of respect for Peter Jackson, so I approached the Secret of the Unicorn with great anticipation. Unfortunately, Spielberg’s project choices and story-telling motivations have declined in the last few years, Jackson’s filmography is more miss than hit, and Hollywood’s record of adapting older stories for newer audiences is pretty terrible, so I also approached the film with considerable trepidation.
Fortunately, I can now report that Tintin was brought to the screen without any of Crystal Skull’s franchise-breaking silliness or King Kong’s over-sentimentalized faux historicalism, adapting Hergé’s stories straight up and without too much theatrical mugging. Also, much of the franchise’s character survived intact.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, Hergé was a Belgian comic book author who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, wrote and illustrated 23 books about a young journalist’s adventures around the globe. Tintin and his dog Snowy faced down an increasingly realistic series of villains as they investigated lost treasure, counterfeiting rings, museum robberies, and political intrigue. Tintin’s friends, the tough sea-faring Captain Haddock, the brilliant but deaf Professor Calculus, and the often misguided Thompson and Thomson from Scotland Yard, usually ended up in the middle of gang wars, military invasions, lost tribes, scientific expeditions, and more.