GUNG-HO reporter Tintin (voiced by Teesside’s Jamie Bell) buys a model ship and is plunged into a centuries-old mystery involving Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig).
Ivan asks Tintin to name his price for the boat but the reporter refuses to sell, sensing the wooden vessel is far more valuable than it first appears. Sure enough, a cryptic conundrum lies within, revealing that “only a true Haddock will discover the secret of The Unicorn”.
Blistering barnacles! Assisted by trusty pooch Snowy, Tintin searches for more clues, meeting booze-sodden Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), whose family history holds the key to the mystery of a cursed shipwreck.
Herge’s iconic hero with the distinctive ginger quiff enters the 21st century in The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, which employs state-of-the-art motion capture to translate actors’ movements into the performances of incredibly detailed digital characters.
Steven Spielberg’s film is a breathlessly entertaining spectacle, littered with eye-popping action set pieces that would simply be unthinkable - not to mention astronomically expensive - as live action.
A dizzying motorcycle chase through the winding alleys of a Moroccan marketplace is accomplished in a single take and Captain Haddock’s penchant for booze provides the hilarious spark for an explosive biplane flight. The script, co-written by Peter Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, delivers some big laughs, such as when Captain Haddock reveals that one of his crew has no eyelids. “Aye, it was a card game to remember!” growls the salty sea dog.
You can also catch Tintin on the big screen at Middlesbrough’s Cineworld on Saturday.
BILLY Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of Oakland Athletics baseball team, goes cap in hand to the team’s owner for more funds after bigger teams pilfered three of his star players.
The request is denied so Billy turns to Yale-educated economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who believes crucial decisions should be based on statistics and data.
Together, Billy and Peter compile a list of the most undervalued players in the league and bring together this band of misfits as the new squad. Gruff team manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) scoffs at the plan, as do members of the old guard.
The season begins with a series of crushing defeats, heaping pressure on Billy and Peter, until the tide turns and miraculously, the team embarks on the longest winning streak in the sport’s history.
Based on an incredible true story, Moneyball is a classic tale of triumph against adversity but the script, co-written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, doesn’t lazily regurgitate cliches of the genre. The film might set up a classic feel-good resolution but Bennett Miller’s drama is smarter than that, laden with snappy dialogue and richly detailed characters.
Pitt impresses as a family man bucking the trend, while Hill foregoes his usual comedy shtick to demonstrate his dramatic range as the expert number cruncher. Both men deserved their Oscar nominations.
Tower Heist (12)
JOSH Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the proud manager of The Tower, one of the most luxurious and tightly secured residences in New York City.
He entrusts his staff’s pensions to Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who is placed under house arrest after he is caught stealing two billion dollars from investors. Convinced Arthur must have a multimillion-dollar safety net concealed in his penthouse, Josh approaches petty thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) to plot the perfect heist.
While special agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) keeps a close eye on Shaw, Josh and Slide initiate their daring scheme.
Tower Heist is a largely entertaining if completely preposterous romp that gallops along at a fair lick. Stiller is a likeable hero, risking everything to ensure the staff aren’t swindled out of their dues. Broderick, Affleck and Sidibe, sporting a credible Jamaican accent, lend solid support, while Alda essays a fittingly loathsome villain.
However, Murphy threatens to sink the film every time he opens his mouth and launches into his high volume, flamboyant shtick.
Screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson wilfully ignore the laws of physics during the climactic theft, permitting characters to accomplish an impossible feat in a similarly impossible short span of time. Artistic licence dissipates any dramatic tension. Director Brett Ratner orchestrates action sequences with aplomb, careening through those gaping holes in the script at breakneck speed.