It’s a different-looking method, not quite traditional animation, not quite claymation, not quite the kind of CGI (computer graphic imaging) utilized elsewhere, but it’s the lens through which this movie must be viewed (that and the 3-D glasses). What you see on the screen is sort of an animated overlay of the actual actors, which captures their own facial expressions, etc., but also allows fanciful, cartoonish-type action sequences. It feels like a video comic book, with heart.
TinTin (Jamie Bell) is a young adventurer who fancies himself as a detective. At a flea market in town, he decides to buy a model ship, the Unicorn, a three-master that’s an exact replica of a galleon that actually sailed the Spanish Main. But immediately there are others who also have an interest in the model ship, and we all discover that there is a piece of a map hidden inside one of the masts, and the story is that it will lead to the lost treasure.
TinTin partners with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and opposing them is Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), a matchup that was apparently also played out generations before, when their ancestors clashed for control of the same treasure. Throw in some antics of the cute white dog, Snowy, for comic affect, travel to Morocco to the court of a sheik, and you have a swashbuckling adventure tale, expertly crafted. It’s technically brilliant, but many will have difficulty relating to characters that are not quite human. Not to mention a main character who looks like a cross between Conan O’Brien and Alfred E. Neuman.
Ronald P. Salfen is interim pastor of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.