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The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

In a way, King Ottokar’s Sceptre feels like the end of an era. King Ottokar’s Sceptre is the last adventure in the series that Tintin would spend alone (save for the company of the loyal companion, Snowy). Although Hergé began work on The Land of Black Gold next, the next completed story (The Crab With the Golden Claws) would introduce Captain Haddock, who would follow Tintin for the rest of the series.  It was also the last story that Hergé completed before the outbreak of the Second World War, and the sense of paranoia is palpable. After this story, Hergé would remove a lot of the more overt political commentary from the series, preferring to offer more subtle and biting commentary. I’m delighted to say that the animated adaptation retain pretty much all of the spirit of Heré’s original story, which I was a little worried about given how deeply rooted the story is in the European politics of the thirties.

Keys to the kingdom...

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October 2011 In Review

I occasionally post a little section at the end of the month reviewing some of the more interesting stuff I’ve written – perhaps it might be helpful to a reader navigating the archives, but it’s really for myself, looking back from time to time. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

It was a fun month here at the m0vie blog, and one in which we gleefully got to indulge our nerdy little interests. To celebrate the release of Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I decided to try to review all 24 of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. In case you want to browse the reviews, here they are:

It was also a fun month because I somehow ended up on the front page of IMDb, recommended on their hit-list for an article I wrote about my anticipation around the release of Tintin. It’s always a huge pleasure to be cited by people who you admire and respect, in a field where they are really the very big players, and I’m honestly humbled by the experience.

And then there was this

Paul Cornell, comic book writer at DC and writer for the revived Doctor Who (and the novels that preceded it), linked to my review of his superb run on Action Comics. It’s one of the truly great modern comic book runs, and wholeheartedly recommended, but it’s just really, really cool to have Mr. Cornell acknowledge the review. At the risk of gushing, he’s a writer that I’ve been following ever since I caught a repeat of Father’s Day, which was the episode that convinced me that Doctor Who was well worth my time. So, the idea that the guy somehow innocuously clicked on to this blog made my week.

So, yep, at the risk of geeking, it was an awesome month.

Tintin: Explorers on the Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The one thing I really admire about Explorers on the Moon is the fact that – for an adventure that takes the iconic boy reporter off te surface of the planet and launches him into outer space – it’s a remarkably low key affair. In fact, most of the book is devoted to nice character moments for the ensemble, and to explore some of the wonderful research Hergé did to put his story together. There’s no great mystery on the moon, none of the aliens that would later appear in Flight 714. Instead, Hergé seems to accept that launching his cast out of the planet’s atmosphere was enough of a radical deviation from the norm as it was. So what we get is a strange situation where Explorers on the Moon feels like one of the more grounded adventures in the series.

"Can you hear me, Major Tom?"

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Tintin: Destination Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Destination Moon is an interesting entry in the Tintin canon, in that it really feels like Hergé’s relaxing just a bit. Since around about The Broken Ear (or even Tintin in America), most of Hergé’s stories have been relatively plot-driven, with a central mystery and a story built around solving that mystery. Destination Moon, on the other hand, is an adventure that feels far more episodic in nature, with Hergé taking a central plot (the race to land a man on a moon) and then building a variety of small adventures around it, from attempts to hijack a test rocket through to Professor Calculus’ amnesia and beyond. The story is somewhat leisurely plotted, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The author is clearly enjoying having a little bit more narrative freedom than he’s used to, and also having a great deal of fun taking a fantastical core concept and demonstrating how much research he’s put in.

It's out of this world...

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Tintin: Red Rackham’s Treasure (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

I have to admit to being just a little bit lukewarm to The Secret of the Unicorn as an entry in The Adventures of Tintin. However, the second part in the adventure, Red Rackham’s Treasure, is a much stronger instalment, standing on its own two feet. Part of me has always liked the more exotic Tintin adventures, but I reckon a large part of the appeal of this instalment is seeing Hergé resurrect a genre that has been left fallow for quite a few decades: the good old-fashioned treasure hunt.

Are Tintin and Haddock LOST?

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Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

It’s amazing what you can miss in enjoying your favourite stories as a child. For me, at the tender age of seven or eight, King Ottokar’s Sceptre was a thrilling tale of palace intrigue with a rather wonderful locked-room mystery at it heart. Returning to it now, it feels like quite a bit more. This is the first time, reading a Tintin book, that it feels part of a particular place or time. Even the possibly-Nazi agent from The Black Island was cast ambiguously enough that the story could have been set at any time in the relatively recent past, but King Ottokar’s Sceptre is something quite a bit different, capturing the sense of fear in Europe on the eve of warfare.

A locked room mystery...

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