WARNING: Do not continue reading unless you want to be spoiled on key plot points of the movie, The Adventures of Tintin.
When I first heard about this movie I remembered first thinking that the name Tintin sounded so familiar, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Apparently they were a bunch of comic books, but I don’t remember ever reading them, so I guess the question of where I heard about Tintin in the first place will always be some sort of odd mystery.
Anyway, this entry will have the usual spoilers, thoughts, and review, in that order. My rating of the movie is always at the very bottom, for those that prefer to just scroll to that information.
The movie has some animated opening credits, I suppose to keep the children entertained. This lasts for about three minutes, but to me it felt more like five. After you get past that, the first scene is Tintin (we don’t see his face yet) being drawn by some street artist, with his dog Snowy by his side. While Tintin is getting his portrait done, Snowy gets distracted by this guy that’s pickpocketing everyone in the open-air marketplace. (By the way, before I go any further, I must say the animation in this movie is eerily interesting; there are times where the characters look really animated, and there are times where it almost seems like the actors are human and not digital. Maybe in the future actors will be replaced entirely by extremely realistic-looking digital characters? I wouldn’t be surprised.)
So the artist finishes his drawing, and the drawing looks nothing like the Tintin in this movie; rather, the drawing is of the original comic version of Tintin, and I’m guessing this scene was probably a small nod to that. Tintin turns to show Snowy the drawing, but then realizes that Snowy has bounded off somewhere. Tintin pays the artist and starts looking for Snowy.
As he searches for Snowy, we briefly see two sketchy characters that are behind a newspaper with holes cut out for their eyes to see. I couldn’t completely make out what they were saying, but I thought they said “In here?” and “Nothing!” I could be wrong though.
Anyway, Snowy runs back to Tintin and Tintin ruffles the dog’s hair, speaking to it affectionately when he notices something in the mirror they’ve stopped in front of. In the mirror is a reflection of a model ship (which consequently becomes the beginning of all their trouble). Captivated by the ship, Tintin approaches it. While he is admiring, the salesman behind the ship begins talking to him about it. This part was kind of funny because Tintin is obviously smarter than the salesman and corrects his appraisal of the ship. The salesman sets his price at two quid, but Tintin easily haggles it down to a pound.
No sooner has he bought the ship when he’s approached by a very flustered man who offers to pay him double for it. Tintin refuses and the man tells him that he should get rid of the ship as soon as he can, because the ship will pose some danger to him. The man warns him that the people who are after the boat “don’t play nice,” and then he disappears, leaving behind a very confused Tintin. He isn’t given the chance to stay confused very long, however, because immediately after the other man disappears, another man has appeared behind Tintin and is trying to buy the boat off the salesman with a check. The salesman tells the man that he will have to talk to Tintin, and then the man asks the boy to name his price. (I felt really bad for the old salesman then, he was definitely regretting selling the boat so easily to the kid.)
The man tries to convince Tintin to give up the ship, but Tintin continues to remain firm in his decision not to sell it and walks away with his newly acquired possession. The man then asks the salesman what the boy’s name is. “Him?” the salesman replies, “Everybody knows him. That’s Tintin!” Cue predictable angry expression from the man who wanted the model ship.
Tintin arrives at home and wonders aloud why so many people are interested in his recent purchase. He sets the ship on top of a dresser and then searches in his room for his magnifying glasss. A mysterious cat slinks in through the window while he searches around his room. Posted on his walls are articles about Tintin, who has apparently solved several mysteries, such as busting a gang’s operations and finding stolen or missing artifacts.
Snowy gives him his magnifying glass, and then basically what happens next I found to be very frustrating yet predictable. Tintin’s magnifying glass magnifies the cat, Snowy goes crazy and chases the cat around the place, and ultimately knocks over the ship, breaking it and upsetting Tintin. What Tintin doesn’t realize, as he puts the ship back in its place, is that a tube has fallen out of the ship and rolled under the dresser. Tintin then decides to figure out the mystery behind the ship and leaves the house, ignoring Snowy’s whimpering as the dog tries to get its master’s attention about the loose piece. Across the street, someone is looking through binoculars and spots the ship resting on Tintin’s dresser.
In the next scene, Tintin is at the library, doing more research about the original ship that the model is created after. Through his research he discovers that the original ship disappeared, never making it to its original destination, and that there was only one survivor. The man who survived believed his name to be cursed; there’s also the matter of mystery cargo in addition to the cargo the ship supposedly had on board. The man, Sir Francis, apparently said some last words regarding the subject. I couldn’t completely understand what Tintin was saying, but I think he said “Only a true Haddock will discover the secret of the unicorn,” which makes sense given the rest of the movie, but I’ll get to that later. (Just wanted to say I kind of like the glowing effect they had on Tintin here; he looked like a little kid that was discovering something for the first time and being completely fascinated by it.)
There is a man who creeps behind him as he’s doing his research, but he disappears just a second before Tintin turns around, so Tintin doesn’t see anyone there. As he continues to do his research, he gets spooked by the thunder and lightning from outside. (This scene strangely reminded me of the movie The Pagemaster.)
Tintin soon returns home, saying aloud that he thinks he’s missed something and how he needs to inspect the model ship again. When he arrives, he notices immediately that the ship is gone. He seems shocked at first but gets over it rather quickly, saying that “Of course it’s gone! How could I be so stupid?”
Tintin and Snowy then go to a place called Chateau de Moulinsart, where they are greeted by a padlocked gate. Snowy gets in easily and Tintin asks the dog how it did that, to which the dog guides him to a hole in the brick wall. It seems like an abandoned mansion, and while snooping around, Snowy gets its ADD again and runs off, leaving behind a frustrated Tintin. He is soon greeted by an angry doberman/pitbull hybrid looking dog, and gets chased by it. The dog chases him all the way to a dead end and Tintin shields himself with his arms. Before the dog can attack him though, Snowy conveniently pops out of nowhere and oddly tames the dog almost immediately, playing with it as Tintin continues his snooping around.
He climbs through the window of the mansion and as he walks around, I swear that there is another person there with him, but it could be that Tintin was just one of those things where they show a reflection of the character and it gives off the illusion that there’s two of them there. Anyway, Tintin enters this room where under the sheet, there’s another model of the same boat. Tintin takes the ship out of the glass case, thinking that this is the one stolen from his house. When he turns around, he gets knocked out by the butler of the man that was trying to buy the ship off him earlier (not the very first guy that disappeared, but the second one). When he comes to, he sees the man again and accuses him of having stolen his ship. The man insists that this isn’t the case, and Tintin discovers this to apparently be true, since his model was broken and this model is not. However, he finds it curious that Sir Francis made not one, but two models of the same ship. The man’s name is Mr. Sakharine, and he does not like the fact that Tintin is so nosy; he has his butler see Tintin out.
The butler tells him a cryptic clue–he tells Tintin that it’s a shame that the mast of his ship was broken, and asks if Tintin found all the pieces, because “some things are easily lost.” Obviously a rhetorical statement, the butler closes the door on Tintin after Mr. Sakharine has started to shout in frustration inside about something. Puzzled about whether the butler was trying to help him or not, Tintin arrives home to find that his house has been completely ransacked. Snowy immediately leads Tintin to the dresser where the piece that fell out of the model ship rolled, and Tintin moves the dresser to reveal the secret tube which contains a secret letter inside. Tintin opens the letter to reveal a message. After reading it, he realizes that whoever was searching for the message will be back.
Soon after, Tintin hears some commotion coming from downstairs and so he goes to check it out. The man from the very beginning is back, and he warns Tintin yet again that his life is in danger. No sooner has he given the warning when suddenly there’s a spray of bullets and the man falls to the ground, dying. Tintin runs after Snowy, who attempts to run after the car containing the shooters, but the car is too fast. Meanwhile the dying man smears some of his blood on the newspaper he’s brought, and he’s already beyond help by the time Tintin gets back to the house. He picks up the newspaper the man brought.
The scene quickly shifts to the next morning; Tintin is still holding the newspaper and he is talking to two inspectors who reveal the name of the man who has died to be one of their top agents, although they have no idea what the man was working on. (These inspectors are actually kind of hilarious in a clumsy, corny kind of way.) Anyway, turns out the dead inspector was trying to write out something in blood–karaboudjan, I believe. Apparently this means something to the inspectors, but they do not reveal the significance of the word to Tintin. They then talk about the pickpocket that we saw at the beginning of the film and show Tintin how they tied their wallets with strong elastic bands, so that they could surprise the thief when he tries to steal from them.
(I found this next sequence incredibly irritating because Tintin is watching the pickpocketing in action, but for some reason doesn’t realize that the pickpocketer is any trouble and goes to tend the inspectors first, causing himself to get pickpocketed and losing the message from before.) Realizing his mistake, Tintin stupidly goes after the pickpocketer, but he is deterred by all the speeding cars that conveniently appear at that moment. He and his dog Snowy are saved by the canes of the two inspectors, who reel them in from the streets. He tells the inspectors that it is imperative that they find the wallet, and the inspectors tell him that they’re on the case (but personally, I wouldn’t have had too much faith in them if I were Tintin).
He is about to return back home when two men approach him saying that they have a package for him. Tintin says that he hasn’t ordered any package. Turns out, he is the package, and the men kidnap him, placing him in the box with Karaboudjan as the label. Snowy starts barking at the men and bites one; they don’t take the dog with them though, they just lock Snowy in the house. Snowy, being the smart dog that he is, rushes upstairs and jumps out the window on top of a car. He hitches a couple of rides and reaches the loading dock, where Tintin is being placed on board a ship.
On the ship, two men are searching for the piece of parchment on Tintin’s person, but don’t find it there–they don’t realize that Tintin lost it to the pickpocketer. Tintin comes to, and he finds out that he’s been kidnapped by Mr. Sakharine. He also learns that Mr. Sakharine is well aware of the puzzle of the pieces of paper inside the ships, and that there is more to the story than just the poetry written on the pieces of paper. (By the way, Snowy the dog cracked me up to no end, he’s like a mini, furry James Bond.) The men leave Tintin to his prison and Snowy conveniently sneaks inside, unnoticed, when they open the door to leave.
Snowy reaches Tintin and begins chewing through the ropes that have the boy’s hands tied. Meanwhile, up above, Mr. Sakharine vents his frustrations to his crew about the missing piece of paper. He tells the men to break every bone in Tintin’s body until they get the information that they need. Another one of his henchmen appears then, and it becomes clear that Mr. Sakharine has stolen the boat from someone and convinced the crew to mutiny. Mr. Sakharine orders the man to just serve the captain more liquor, I guess because that’s the captain’s weakness.
Now free from his bonds, Tintin locks the door of his holding cell and covers the window so that no one can see inside. He then opens a different window leading outside; some singing can be heard. In the meantime, Mr. Sakharine’s men are back and trying to open Tintin’s holding cell, but to no avail. One of the men quickly realizes what Tintin has done and tells the other man to bring some dynamite so that they can blow the door open. In the meantime, Tintin gets together what supplies he can find inside the holding cell in order to make his getaway.
There’s a scene where the dynamite blows and the men get confused because Tintin has set up the corks of champagne bottles to go off like bullets, but it’s not all too important. Tintin somehow manages to jump to the ship’s captain’s quarters (which was kind of confusing to me because it didn’t seem realistically possible, but then again this is a cartoon…), and he gets involved in a spontaneous wood sword fight with the captain, who thinks Tintin has been sent to kill him. By the way, the captain is definitely incredibly drunk.
After Tintin calms the captain down, the captain groans and complains to Tintin, saying that he’s been locked in the ship for days with only whiskey to sustain him. As he says this, Tintin opens the very unlocked door and the captain hesitates, clearly embarrassed, and he tells Tintin that he assumed the door was locked. (Not very bright, is this guy?) Tintin then tells him that he has to keep moving or else he may get killed. He also insults the captain, which sobers him up pretty darn quickly.
Of course, being that he’s Tintin and he hasn’t exactly been very lucky all movie, he immediately runs into one of Mr. Sakharine’s cronies. With some unintentional help from the captain (who is revealed to be Captain Haddock), the two of them beat up Mr. Sakharine’s underling and escape. Enraged, Mr. Sakharine orders that they recapture Haddock, though they can kill the boy if they so choose. Turns out, Mr. Sakharine and Haddock have some kind of history.
There’s a couple of hilarious scenes as Tintin and Haddock are trying to leave the ship; Tintin starts making connections about the set of words he read on the paper he found which said something about there being three brothers and three bottled ships, Haddock then sends Tintin to fetch the keys from the sleeping keeper of the keys, who apparently lost his eyelids in some card game. There’s also a funny part where Tintin asks if Haddock remembers anything about what his father said to him before his passing, to which Haddock replies that he can’t remember a thing because he had gotten ridiculously drunk and forgot it all. (Seriously, not a very bright guy.)
It gets a little more ridiculous–after Tintin retrieves the keys, it turns out they open up a door to a wine storage closet, and does not contain the third model ship that I’m guessing Tintin expected to be there. At some point, Tintin overhears two of Mr. Sakarine’s men talking about a Milanese Nightingale, but more on that later. The pair eventually manage to escape the ship (after a bunch of bumbling around).
They get away on a lifeboat. The captain knocks Tintin and Snowy out with his clumsiness and the oars, and starts rowing them to North Africa to retrieve the last model ship. Unfortunately, he gets thirsty and later gets a bit drunk again. This gives him the bright idea to start a fire in the boat to keep them warm. Tintin wakes up and tries to put the fire out. The not-so-bright captain pours whiskey on it, causing an explosion. They are seemingly stranded in the middle of the ocean.
Soon after, two of Mr. Sakharine’s men appear in a plane. Tintin manages to shoot them down with one bullet and bluffs them into thinking that the gun is still loaded, allowing them access to the plane. They then take off, pass Mr. Sakharine’s boat, and run straight into some very dangerous looking storm clouds. Some technical problems with the plane and a crash landing later, the pair have made it onto a patch of desert.
They walk about in the desert for a bit, and Captain Haddock starts complaining about dehydration and lack of whiskey. He then starts hallucinating about the unicorn ship–I know, that sounds hilarious somehow. Anyway, he starts describing the ship and its crew to Tintin. He also describes some events that the ship had gone through, but after a point he goes back to his clumsy, confused self and doesn’t remember anything. (I was just as frustrated at Tintin at how bipolar this guy was and how much his personality swings from being very strong to very weak and whiny.)
Both Tintin and the captain pass out in the middle of the desert. They are eventually found by some people, who rouse them. Turns out, there’s a reason why the captain needs to stay drunk, and it’s to be able to see the same visions he did in the desert, in order to explain why the unicorn is so important. (Snowy figures this out pretty quickly and swaps the captain’s water for a pitcher of spirits. Almost immediately, the captain seems to transform and he is suddenly seeing all these visions again about his ancestor and this pirate called the Red Dragon.
Through his visions we learn that the Red Dragon basically forced Sir Francis’ hand about the unicorn by threatening to kill his men. Sir Francis reveals the treasure area to Red Dragon, and Red Dragon has Sir Francis’ men killed. (I found it sort of interesting they showed the men drowning and getting eaten by sharks. I guess I didn’t expect that from an animation.) The only other real important thing Haddock mentions is that his ancestor sank the ship he was on with Haddock’s ancestor still on board–who cursed Haddock’s name with the ship’s sinking.
Eventually it is revealed that Mr. Sakharine (though this isn’t really much of a surprise) is the descendant of the Red Dragon and intends to finish what his ancestor started, by retrieving the golden unicorn attached to the ship. All the pieces of the puzzle kind of fall into place for Haddock and Tintin, and they’re on their way to finding the third and final ship with the last clue.
Remember earlier when I was talking about the Milanese Nightingale? Well, this is where it comes into play. I may have forgotten to mention, on the ship, Tintin had sent out a message in Morse code from the ship to the two inspectors, telling them to meet him and Haddock on the island they are currently on. Well, they meet up there and Tintin finds the Milanese Nightingale, which turns out to be some kind of opera singer. Mr. Sakharine is back, and he’s the singer’s escort. (By the way, Tintin entrusts the paper with the clue to Haddock–this is important for later.)
The next scene is the opera concert; the opera singer is performing for a high-ranking official, who just so happens to be owner of the third and final model ship, which is being kept in protective glass behind the singer. (Can you guess what Mr. Sakharine’s plot is?)
Anyway, as the concert is going, Haddock almost loses the paper when he takes it out of his pocket by accident while trying to get a drink out of the same pocket. He manages to get it back though, and puts the drink on a table beside him. Unfortunately, this becomes the weapon used against him by his former ship hands that were turned by Mr. Sakharine, and he is knocked out. Meanwhile, during the concert, Tintin notices Mr. Sakharine watching from the balcony seats. Tintin quickly realizes that he’s waiting for the opera singer’s voice to shatter the glass protecting the third and final ship.
The opera singer eventually hits the right octave, shattering all the glass in the room as well as the protective glass. Mr. Sakharine doesn’t waste a minute and sends his pet bird to fetch the ship for him. He also wastes no time in framing Haddock and Tintin, creating a distraction against his plot. The bird retrieves the cylinder from the model ship; Snowy tries to catch the bird, but he is not nearly fast enough.
Mr. Sakharine makes his getaway, but Tintin and Haddock are close behind on a motorcycle. There’s a bit of a wild goose chase–including the destruction of several sand homes–until eventually it becomes a bit of a stand-off situation. Somehow Mr. Sakharine’s bird has ended up with all the pieces of the paper puzzle, Tintin has the bird, but Mr. Sakharine has Snowy and Haddock tied together. Mr. Sakharine drops them, forcing Tintin to let go of the bird in order to save his friends (but this is after discovering that the papers line up together to show coordinates).
There’s a bit of dialogue between the two characters; Tintin is down and thinks that they’re out of options, and Haddock gives him a bit of a pep talk. Something Haddock says gives Tintin the idea of how to track Mr. Sakharine’s ship down, and conveniently there is an airplane nearby to help them meet Mr. Sakharine and his men at their destination.
For some odd reason, Mr. Sakharine & Co. end up back where everything began in the first place–I think Tintin explains it, but my memory is a bit hazy as to why. Mr. Sakharine is in a car and Haddock is controlling a crane that puts the car down from the ship onto the loading dock. Immediately, Mr. Sakharine is ambushed by Tintin, the two inspectors, and a police office. It seems like Mr. Sakharine is caught, but of course no one else but Mr. Sakharine is prepared with a gun, which causes a bit of a problem. Haddock uses the crane to pick Mr. Sakharine back up, but of course one of Mr. Sakharine’s men has now reached the crane; the captain and the man start fighting over the controls, causing chaos outside. Eventually, Haddock gains full control of the crane again, but at this point it doesn’t matter; Mr. Sakharine decides to jump out of the car and finds another crane to hop in to. What follows is a huge crane sword fight between the two men.
After making a bit of a mess of the cranes, they somehow get close up to each other, where they exchange a few fighting words. (The thing I found interesting here though is how Red Dragon was able to be a fathering generation to anyone in the first place, since he died with the ship and didn’t give any last words to Mr. Sakharine like Haddock received from Sir Francis, but perhaps I missed something.)
Mr. Sakharine manages to knock Haddock out of his crane, and then they start sword fighting at ground level. Haddock seems to be winning at first, but then Mr. Sakharine threatens to burn the sheets of paper, that apparently only a Haddock can interpret. Before he can follow through with his threat though, Tintin rushes in and snatches the pieces of parchment by flying through on a pulley. In a sort of anti-climactic end to that scene, the two clumsy inspector places Mr. Sakharine under arrest.
Now on Haddock’s boat (that Mr. Sakharine kept on stealing all movie), Tintin and Haddock put the pieces of parchment together to reveal the coordinates to the treasure. They end up getting led back to Mr. Sakharine’s home, where his butler is waiting for them, and apparently expecting them as well. Apparently this was Haddock’s childhood home. Tintin is confused as to why the treasure may be hidden there, since Haddock had said that the treasure had sunken with the ship, but they go for a look anyway.
They start their search in a cellar, but Haddock insists there’s another. The butler says that there isn’t though. Of course, conveniently as always, Snowy has disappeared; Tintin calls out for his dog, and they can hear him barking. There is a bit of rearranging of objects to reveal a hidden cellar. They have to bust a wall in order to reveal a hidden room. The most important object in this room is a globe. Haddock observes the globe and notes that out of everything on the globe, there is one island there that doesn’t belong. It takes him a minute, but Tintin realizes that this was intentional; only a Haddock would know if even the smallest most insignificant island is out of place on a map.
Haddock finds the island on the globe and pushes it. The top flies open and reveals the treasure. Haddock takes out a hat containing the treasure and pours it out into a bowl. The butler brings two glasses of champagne to celebrate; Tintin doesn’t want any, so Haddock downs it all. While he’s drinking, Tintin notices that there’s another scroll hidden with the treasure. It reveals the coordinates for the rest of the treasure. The film ends with the implication that Tintin and Haddock are going to go off and find the treasure, and the movie closes out with the screen closing out to black in a circle shape…I’m not sure if I described that so it makes sense, but basically it rounds around Snowy and then completely closes up, making the whole screen black. Yep, that’s it.
So what to make of this movie? Well…I don’t really know. I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed it, but at the same time there were one or two parts that I think I at least kind of liked. The movie is not nearly as cool as the poster or the trailer leads you to believe, but oh well, I suppose.
Anyway, onto the review. (For your reference, my movie ratings guide.)
Casting: N/A – animated
Re-watch Factor: **
FINAL VERDICT: C-
As usual, I’ve pretty much spoiled the entire movie, but I didn’t spoil every miniscule detail, so I’m sure when you watch it you’ll find that there’s plenty of things that I missed as well (or more like I didn’t think it was important enough to mention). Honestly though, when I think about it, it seemed kind of like an installment of Pirates of the Caribbean in cartoon form in some aspects.
Anyway, I think that’s going to be pretty much it from me for today. I always want to write more, but believe it or not, these movie entries usually take me anywhere from 3-7 hours, depending on how extensively I wish to cover the film. I’m also still feeling a little sick, and it was probably a bad idea to do this, but I couldn’t resist. I love writing for this blog, regardless of how many hits or comments it gets. Nothing’s a better stress reliever than writing about stuff I’m interested in.
I’ve got some more fun entries planned for tomorrow, so stay tuned!