Follows the unquenchably curious young reporter Tintin and his fiercely loyal dog Snowy as they discover a model ship carrying an explosive secret. Drawn into a centuries-old mystery, Tintin finds himself in the sightlines of Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, a diabolical villain who believes Tintin has stolen a priceless treasure tied to dastardly pirate named Red Rackham. But with the help of his dog Snowy, the salty, cantankerous Captain Haddock and the bumbling detectives Thompson & Thomson, Tintin will travel half the world, outwitting and outrunning his enemies in a breathless chase to find the final resting place of The Unicorn, a shipwreck that may hold the key to vast fortune - and an ancient curse.
From the high seas to the sands of North African deserts, every new twist and turn sweeps Tintin and his friends to escalating levels of thrills and peril, proving that when you dare to risk everything, there's no limit to what you can do.
__ Synopsis __
After having a caricature drawn of himself by a local artist, Tintin (Jamie Bell) wanders through the town square. As he does so, he sees a miniature ship in a glass case, being sold by a local merchant. The miniature ship is called The Unicorn, and the merchant tells Tintin it was procured from an old sailor's estate sale.
Tintin buys the ship for a pound, but just as he takes possession of it, a large man with an American accent appears, wanting to buy the boat. He offers to pay Tintin double what he paid for it, but Tintin refuses. The man appears shaken, and rushes off, telling Tintin to 'get out while you still can.'
Just as he leaves, a thin man with a pointed beard shows up, and also attempts to purchase the miniature ship. He tells Tintin that the ship was purchased from the nearby Marlinspike Hall, which he has come into acquiring, and wishes to purchase the ship to return it to its former home. Even though he tells Tintin to "name his price," the young man again refuses, and walks off. As he leaves, the thin man asks the merchant if he knows who the young man is. "Everyone knows who he is," says the merchant. "That's Tintin."
Returning to his apartment, Tintin's curiosity around the miniature ship is piqued, and he attempts to find a magnifying glass to examine it. However, a siamese cat enters the apartment, causing his dog Snowy to chase it around the room. During the chase, Snowy accidentally knocks the ship onto the floor, breaking its masts. As Tintin picks it up, he doesn't see a small metal cylinder fall out of the mast hole, and roll under the nearby table.
Wanting more information, the two visit a maritime museum, where Tintin learns that the ship sank at sea, carrying rum and tobacco, but it was assumed that the ship (captained by Sir Francis Haddock), may have had a secret cargo aboard. It also makes note that after the loss of his ship, the captain believed that his family bloodline was now cursed.
Returning to his apartment, Tintin is shocked to find that the model ship is gone! Assuming that it may have been taken by the thin man at the town square, Tintin sneaks into Marlinspike Hall. In a glass case, he finds a ship, but is knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he finds the thin man, and a butler. Tintin requests the return of his property, but is soon surprised to find that though the miniature ship is of The Unicorn, it is a different model, unbroken like his ship.
As he is escorted out, the butler tells Tintin that he should make sure to check for 'all the pieces' of the ship he had.
Returning to his apartment, Tintin is further shocked to find his place ransacked! Searching near the dresser where he placed the ship, he finds the metal cylinder underneath. He soon finds that it contains a scroll, with a message, and strange markings.
As he puts the strange paper in his wallet, he hears his landlady Mrs Finch downstairs, arguing with a man who wants to come inside. Tintin comes downstairs, and through the chained front door, he finds that it was the American who wanted to buy the ship earlier in the day. The man seems more nervous than before, claiming that someone is killing others for information. When Tintin asks who, bullets rip through the door, and the man falls into the foyer, bleeding. Tintin rushes out into the street, just in time to see a blue sedan speeding away.
Returning to the foyer, he finds the man unmoving, but a newspaper nearby has bloody fingerprints highlighting various letters.
The next day, Tintin talks with the investigators of the murder, Thompson and Thomson. They claim the man is named Barnaby Dawes, and was working for the FBI. Tintin also tells of the newspaper he found, and that the letters highlighted seem to spell out "Karaboudjan."
As the two investigators take leave, they caution Tintin about a pickpocket that's been going around, and after they take leave of Tintin's apartment, they have a small run-in with the pickpocket. He also bumps into Tintin, and the young man panics when he realizes that the strange paper he had is now gone! Thompson and Thomson vow to get his wallet back.
Returning to his apartment, several large men are waiting for Tintin, and shove him in a crate. Snowy follows his master aboard a large cargo ship, named the Karaboudjan.
Tintin is searched for the paper, and encounters the thin man, who reveals his name to be Sakharine. Sakharine claims he is looking for the paper Tintin had, and reveals that he has another just like it. Tintin claims he doesn't have the paper, and he and Snowy are locked up, as Sakharine and his men decide what to do next.
Eventually, Tintin manages to escape through an exterior porthole on the ship, to another room. There, he encounters Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis). The Captain appears to be in a drunken yet angry stupor over the mutiny of his crew to Sakharine. Tintin agrees to help the Captain escape, and is surprised to find that he is related to the Haddocks of Marlinspike hall.
Tintin tells Haddock about the scroll he found, and the rumor that only a Haddock can unlock the secrets of the Unicorn. Haddock claims his father told him a story on his deathbed, but has since forgotten it. When Tintin inquires about other relatives, Haddock claims that of three brothers, he is the last of the family members. This sticks in Tintin's mind as they escape the ship.
On their way off, Tintin passes by the radio room, and overhears talk of 'The Milanese Nightingale,' and get coordinates to the ship's next location: Bagghar.
Making their escape in a lifeboat, Sakharine sends two of his men in a seaplane to find them. Tintin manages to shoot the plane, damaging its engine, causing them to land. The two pilots are then trussed up, and Tintin is able to repair the plane, before he, Haddock, and Snowy pilot the plane towards Bagghar. However, a storm over a desert area causes the plane to crash, and the three find themselves walking across the desert.
In the last throes of his alcoholic stupor, Haddock begins to hallucinate, and the buried memory of his father's story comes to life.
Haddock then begins to relate the story of his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, Captain of the Unicorn. The ship was overtaken by pirates, led by a red-scarfed captin known as Red Rackham. Though the Unicorn was said to be carrying standard cargo, Rackham is sure there is more to the ship.
Sir Francis allowed Rackham into the secret hold which contained treasure, but was incensed when Rackham went back on his word, and allowed the crew to be devoured by sharks. Sir Francis then blew up the Unicorn to prevent Rackham from getting the treasure. Escaping the wreck, Sir Francis was cursed by Rackham, who claimed they'd meet again, 'in another time, in another place.' It is now, that Haddock realizes that Sakharine is related to Red Rackham.
After hearing this story, the three finally make it to Bagghar, where they are surprised to encounter Thompson and Thomson, who have recovered Tintin's wallet, along with the special paper.
and enter the palace of Omar Ben Salaad, who is said to have a miniature of the Unicorn. Also on hand, is a performance by Bianca Castafiore, aka 'The Milanese Nightingale.' As her operatic voice fills the air, the special glass case the Unicorn model is in fractures, and Sakharine reacts, sending a falcon in to break open the ship's mast, and steal the last of the scrolls.
A high-speed chase through the city follows, with Tintin eventually giving in to Sakharine's demands to give him the scrolls to avoid him drowning Haddock and Snowy.
After the incident, Sakharine and his men leave on the Karaboudjan. Tintin is just about to give up, when he realizes that being in the ship's messaging room, he knows its signal, and they can report it to interpol, helping them track where it is going.
The ship eventually enters port back where the adventure started. It is here (through the use of another seaplane), Tintin, Haddock, Snowy, and Thompson and Thomson are waiting to arrest Sakharine.
However, Sakharine pulls a gun on the group, before getting into a nearby dock crane, and fighting Haddock in another, like two men wielding cutlasses. In the end, Sakharine gains the upper hand, and attempts to burn the three scrolls, before Tintin manages to recover them.
As the sun rises over the docks, Tintin and Haddock line up the scrolls, and see that they contain coordinates. Following them, they end up at Marlinspike hall. There, Haddock mentions a certain cellar he used to remember when he was a little boy. They end up finding that the cellar was walled over by Sir Francis Haddock when he lost the house. They ram through the house's fake cellar and enter the second cellar.
They find a statue of St.John the Evangelist, and Tintin remembers a line from the poem - "And then shines forth the eagle's cross". He deduces that St.John, in addition to being represented with an eagle, is also called the Eagle of Patmos, and so he IS the eagle.
Near the statue, they find a globe, whereupon Haddock looks at it and remarks that it contains an extra island and that it must have been a mistake. Tintin says that it was no mistake, and that Sir Francis banked upon his descendant, a man who could look at a globe and could find if even one tiny island was out of place; a man who knew the seas like the back of his hand, could understand the clue.
Haddock presses the tiny island on the globe, and it comes apart, revealing Red Rackham's treasure in it, along with Sir Francis' hat. As the captain wears the hat and says it's all over, Tintin finds another clue at the bottom of the hollow globe, with a clue to where the remaining treasure is located. Thus, Tintin and Haddock prepare for their next great adventure.