You knew from the start that the production would be lavish and lovingly done. The opening credits, with silhouettes, thought balloons and the proper Tintin font, are delightful and draw on all Tintin's adventures, suggesting that there will be sequels; I loved the departures board with destinations including 'SYLDAVIA' and 'THE BLACK ISLAND'. Then we're in the Brussels market, where Tintin is having his portrait drawn by a street artist and - surprise! - it's Hergé, sitting in front of a gallery of his creations. Gorgeous.
I wasn't sure about the CGI before I went; either make it a proper cartoon or have actors, I thought. But most of the characters were well-done, nicely balanced between real and comic strip. Thomson and Thompson, I felt, fell on the wrong side of the creepy line, and I wasn't entirely sure about Haddock, but Tintin himself was lovely. I also thought Allan, the treacherous First Mate, was particularly well done. Strangely, it was the minor characters, like Aristide Silk, who looked most as if they'd stepped straight out of the pages of the books.
Certainly the figures on the screen were believable enough for the audience to get attached to them; when one of the Thompsons trips over a cat and falls down the stairs, there was an audible murmur of sympathy...for the cat.
As the trailers and clips suggested, the plot borrowed from The Crab with the Golden Claws as well as The Secret of the Unicorn. Bianca Castafiore isn't in either book, but comes along for the ride (and a vital plot point). No Professor Calculus yet.
Some of the chase scenes were over-long, though it's quite fun to watch Tintin destroy an entire city and reduce a motorcycle to its component parts, and there seemed to be some confusion as to whether Haddock needs to be drunk, sober or just the right level of drunk to remember the vital information he's forgotten.
The audience for our 20:30 showing ranged from teenagers to couples in their 60s, and it really is a family film; three generations could watch together and love every minute, as long as they're Tintin fans. And who isn't?