Review: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) by Jamie

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Tintin. When it came to that kind of comic book, I was definitely more inclined to read something like Asterix but apparently a lot of people do love the beautified, adventuring journalist because all I’ve heard for a while is how much people are looking forward to the big screen adaptation of Herge’s classic comic. Apparently the people who like Tintin really like Tintin.

So knowing that, keep in mind that I can’t really compare the film’s version of the characters with their comic book counterparts or indeed the general story to how it might have played out on the page. All I can do is judge the film on it’s own merits. Also I watched the film in 2D because, seriously, I’m sick of fucking 3D. It unnecessarily decreases the quality of the film because the stupid glasses make everything quite a bit darker which can really hamper the enjoyment of a bright, vibrant CGI film say, for example, Tintin.

Anyway, the film begins in what seems to be Paris although everyone talks with an English accent and things are paid for in pounds. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense but whatever. There’s adventuring to be done and mysteries to be solved… Like maybe the mystery of why France has changed it’s currency to the pound… but no. Can’t dwell to much on that. The real mystery has to do with a model ship that Tintin (Jamie Bell) buys which immediately seems to attract the attention of a couple of other people including an American and the mysterious Sahkarine (Daniel Craig). The model ship is stolen and this leads Tintin on a globe spanning adventure that involves an ancient sunken treasure and leads to him meeting the bumbling alcoholic, Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis).

So that’s the basic gist of the film and saying too much more would give away a bit too much of the plot, what with it being a mystery and all. Overall, the film looks beautiful and really shows the leaps and bounds that CGI has come when it comes to creating human’s up on the screen. Gone are the creepy, dead-eyed days of something like ‘The Polar Express’. These characters work just as well as live action counterparts might have done and, for a film such as this, the style is completely appropriate. Motion capture technology certainly seems to have advanced quite far as well with each character managing to be just as expressive as a real person would have been. It all adds up to quite a believable world that at times reminded me of Indiana Jones. The good ones I mean, not that Crystal Skull shit.

The performances were all pretty much stellar. Serkis in particular completely nailed the part of a grizzled, drunken, down on his luck sea captain, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg bring their normal comic sensibilities to the role of the Thompson twins even though I feel they were slightly underused and Jamie Bell was completely believable as the optimistic, adventurous title character.

If there’s one criticism that I can really make about ‘Tintin’ it’s that the plot sometime moved forward a bit too quickly. It’s not a major problem but in a mystery you should perhaps take a little time to explain a few things a bit more clearly before just jumping into the next action set-piece. A prime example of this is Haddock and Sahkarine apparently both having memories of their ancestors. I never really understood quite how that worked but it’s a pretty minor problem in what is otherwise a fun little adventure movie. Overall, ‘Tintin’ gets four pints out of five. Laterz.

Review: 50/50 (2011) by Jamie

Cancer. It’s a subject that you might not think works that well in a comedy unless it’s in something like South Park. Is there a way to do a touching yet funny film about such a serious condition? Well, it turns out that there is as demonstrated by the subject of this review, ‘50/50’.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a man who’s life is acceptable but not particularly extraordinary. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he has an attractive, if somewhat emotionally distant, girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) and he works at a local radio station with his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen). So, like I said, nothing special but an agreeable existence. One day his whole life is turned upside down when he goes to the doctor to get some test results to find out what’s been causing his recurring back pains and he’s informed he has a rare form of cancer with a 50% survival rate. To help him deal with this he is sent to a trainee psychologist (Anna Kendricks).

And that’s about all I can really say about the plot without giving away too much in terms of spoilers. Needless to say that Adam goes through several stages of grief, anger, acceptance etc, all whilst trying to deal with the experience of going through his ordeal with cancer in his own way, generally trying to rely on help from the people around him as little as possible despite their own efforts to try and help him in their own way. Kyle tries to get Adam to use his illness to his own advantage by using his friend to help him pick up girls whilst also encouraging Adam to do the same. The character may seem a little selfish at first but it becomes clear that he really does care about his best friend and is basically just doing what he can to keep his spirits up.

There’s also Adam’s somewhat overbearing mother (Anjelica Huston) who, due to a lifetime of worrying incessantly about her son, Adam tries to push away (as kindly as he possibly can) even though this is a time in his life when he should really be seeking her care and love. This is made all the more difficult, and somewhat heartbreaking, because Adam’s father is suffering from Altzheimer’s and so, as Anna Kendrick’s character puts it “she has a husband she can’t talk to and a son who won’t.”

To sum up, ‘50/50’ is a film that manages to take a very serious subject, cancer and the way it affects the sufferer and the people around him, that manages to make it both funny and sweet. It made made me laugh and also brought a few tears to my eyes, especially the scene where Adam is talking to his parents right before he goes in for his surgery (but then again, I realise I‘m a massive pussy who cries at the drop of a hat in films. Fuck, I cried when I watched Jurassic Park in the cinema recently when the main theme played for the first time). I think it’s definitely challenging ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ as my favourite film of this year. Sure, it’s a bit saccharine at times but it never really goes too over the top in the sappiness department. It also has a pretty fine soundtrack. Seriously, if you watch one comedy about cancer this year, make it ‘50/50’. Five pints out of five. Laterz.

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