The Adventures of Tintin

“The Adventures of Tintin” is the story of an intrepid reporter and his scrappy dog who get swept up into a global adventure after purchasing a replica wooden ship from a street vendor. Based on the series of comics by Belgian artist Hergé, “Tintin” is the first animated feature to be directed by Steven Spielberg, and his first full length forray into the world of motion capture technology.

His influence is unmistakable, as Tintin takes off on an Indiana Jones-esque adventure in search of treasure. There are wild action sequences, interspersed with family friendly comedy, and an overarching spirit of adventure.

There were a few missing elements for me which keep me from calling it great, but there’s no doubt that anyone who was looking forward to it will be pleased, and it’s well worth your box office dollar this holiday season.

“The Adventures of Tintin” is a series of European comic books drawn by a Belgian artist, Georges Remi, using the pseudonym Hergé. He produced the comics for almost 50 years, beginning in 1930, and continuing until the late 1970s. They’re enormously popular worldwide, but don’t have a huge following in the States. My apologies to any American Tintin fans I’ve yet to meet, but I’ve yet to meet a comic book fan here (and I know many) who claim to be a fan.

So this will be our first introduction to Tintin for the most part, here stateside. And I have to confess… I wasn’t all that impressed with him as a character. I’m putting my major criticism up front, leading with it, let’s get past it… but, yeah, Tintin to me was a one note dud. He just seemed too earnest and too adventurous and this squeaky clean do gooder kid (I have no idea how old he’s supposed to be) who shouts out things like “That’s it!!” “C’mon!!” and “Let’s Go!!” far too often and with a little too much enthusiasm. Double exclamation points are always required.

More interesting was his compadre, Captain Haddock. Haddock is an oaf of a man with a drinking problem, whose family is central to the secret of the Unicorn. His ancestor was the Captain of that vessel. So when Tintin begins trying to unravel why men would be after his model ship, the trail eventually leads him to Haddock. Haddock brings a welcome dose of cynicism to the proceedings, and even though there were times when my inner Ted Striker (“I have a drinking problem”) bristled at the light they were making of alcoholism, there’s no doubt he’s the one bringing the funny to the table.

There’s also Tintin’s scrappy pup, and the dimwitted policemen, who… somehow… aren’t supposed to be twins? I don’t know, they’re staying true to the source material I’m sure. Along with Daniel Craig’s Sakharine, the villain of the film, they all populate a quasi-realistic world for Tintin to traipse through.

“Tintin” is produced using motion capture technology, and it’s done very well. The film looks gorgeous, the animators did a super job with everything. My only hesitation is that I think there are times where the movie winds up in an awkward position… straddling the fence, if you will. While it’s obviously not your standard animated feature and/or cartoon, like say a Pixar flick, it’s also not 100% animation attempting to be realism, like say, “Avatar”. So sometimes, you’ll be wrapped up in the film as if you’re watching a straight up action flick starring rendered heroes, but then they’ll break out something very cartoony, as if you were watching an animated movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the effect “jarring”, but I found it a little unsettling, at least.

It’s all water under the bridge though, when you look at the heart of the movie… the adventure story. It’s a solid tale, and the action sequences that it strings together are worthy of the “Spielberg name”. It’s really not even so much the crazy stunts and effects that Spielberg gets to create here via the magic of computer animation and mo cap, it’s the obvious joy he has with the untethered camera that computer animating provides. Spielberg whirls the frame around like it was some happily drunken waltzer… swerving and manic with energy, yet full of precision and purpose. It was a joy to watch him have fun with a technology that allows him to do things he would never actually be allowed to do in the realm of live action film.

Overall, there were too many things that left me a little flat to give it a great grade or to give it one of my patented “Wild Raves” LOL (Thanks Castor) But you can certainly do a lot worse than this, and the framework is definitely in place that if the characters connect with you better than they did with me, or if you’re a fan of the source material or something, then you may wind up being a big big fan. There’s an excellent action adventure story here, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to.

B+

24 thoughts on “The Adventures of Tintin

  1. I think that’s a fair review. It is fun to watch, Tintin’s not a spectacular character. I think, back in the day, he’s meant to embody that little boy who’s reading the comics who’s just after adventure and nothing else. There’s nothing much more to him than that.

    I still don’t “get” motion capture. I’m missing out on something somewhere…

    • “I think that’s a fair review.”

      Thank you Jaina. Fair and objective impartiality is goal number one here at Fogs’ Movie Reviews.

      (Trying to keep a straight face)

      Motion capture can be cool if used well. I mean, “Planet of the Apes” came out pretty well using the technology, and I really liked “Avatar”. I dont know how passionately I’d defend it if I were caught in the midst of its many haters, but I dig it.

      Here’s one. BOOM!! Dont mess with me now, girl, we’re getting to know each other LOL.

      You like Lord of the Riiiiiiiings…. What about Gollum?

      • Right here’s where I come clean. Or just explain myself!

        I “get” motion capture when it comes to Gollum and Planet of the Apes. It makes sense in my head for them to want to get realistic movements and facial expressions captured for the use in a live action film. What I don’t get is producing an animated film using motion capture to produce animated characters when you could probably get more expressions out of the animated characters if they weren’t motion captured. I think the only character in this film that was truly expressive in his face was Haddock and that’s down to Andy Serkis, who’s done mo-cap so many times he knows he has to over emphasise to really get things captured.

        So there.. that’s my stance on it. Keep animation animated and use mo-cap when it’s actually needed, not to make hyper realistic animated films.

        *gets off soap box*

      • Well I think I mentioned on your review that the reason they initally went this way was for the dog. And they do get a unique look and feel for the film from it.

        Just playing Devil’s advocate. But there will be more and more of this to come…

  2. This is actually one of my more anticipated films of the year, I hope it comes through, and B+ is a fine rating.

    Nice work!

    • Yeah, I’m still working out my reviewing style Matt. I’m sure you’ll get a sense of that as you build your blog. I have a habit of making a good grade sound bad I guess sometimes.

      It’s hard when I see a film I want to shout about on one day (Girl with) and then come back the next and try to say, Hey this is a good movie check it out (this one) But I guess it comes with the territory.

      I was really looking forward to it too. Got to attend the Comic-Con panel for it, so that pretty much sears it into your brain, you know?

  3. I feel a little bit bad for you! I think you were prepared to shout from the roof tops that this was going to be one of the best movies this year and ended up with only an, OK! Our discussions about the Comic-Con panel and the technology, may have elevated your expectations a bit and a solid grade leaves you feeling a bit short. Is this a movie specifically targeting the adolescent market or does it contain material to attract a more adult crowed as well? I probably won’t be going to see this, there are so many others that I want to see right now.

    • Yeah…. you’re completely right in everything you said.

      I think its more of an all ages audience, but that has a tendency to to result in some juvenile humor, slapstick style comedy, etc etc.

      Comic-Con definitely heightened my hopes, but it has a way of doing that. Getting used to it by now. I think more than anything, it was a Spielberg action movie, that’s enough to amp me up right there.

      It was good, it was definitely a good flick, and a fun time, but like you’re saying… Right now, if I had to steer people towards only one movie at the megaplex… it wouldnt be this, you know? That’s a bit of a bummer

  4. Glad to hear you liked it, even if you weren’t wowed by it as much as you were hoping. I’m not a long-term Tintin fan either, so your take is probably going to be pretty close to mine — though I do know that Thomson and Thompson are indeed not supposed to be twins, and that’s one of the jokes with them. My public library when I was a kid had (and presumably still has) hardbound copies of most of the Tintin comics and most of the Asterix comics… I gravitated to Asterix instead of Tintin because it was funnier, even if in retrospect a great many of the jokes were aimed at grown-ups and not grade-schoolers, whereas Tintin was just straight adventuring for all ages. I still expect I’ll enjoy Tintin when I see it.

  5. I was super bored during this film. Also didn’t help that I saw it at midnight, but it didn’t do anything special for me. I wish I could say otherwise. I’m still debating on putting up my own review. You pretty well summed it up here! A great review!

    I just couldn’t get into the characters and believe this film really is more for those that are already familiar with the comic (somewhat like how Twilight is only really made for those who read the books). There is where Harry Potter excels over Twilight and Tintin.

    • LOL. Well, I havent seen “Twilight’ yet. But I can say you’re right about Harry Potter, for sure.

      I guess its fair to say there were parts when I was a bit bored, too. I think its probably – for my experience – safer to say I was a little “flat” throughout. Like, I was watching the movie thinking I should be much more into it than I was…

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  7. I won’t be writing a review because I promised Schuyler he’d get first dibs on Tintin, but I was immensely disappointed. I like the cast, the animation, and the action scenes, but overall this film really let me down. The script is full of really stupid moments I thought all the characters had little motivation. Tintin himself we barely know as a character and the villain didn’t feel all that villainous to me. I didn’t hate it, but I expected a lot more.

    • Do you draft which movies you get to do? LOL, that would be fun.

      I would agree with all of your cirticisms, but counter that for me… the action/adventure and animation carried the day and puts it in the win column.

      I was disappointed too though, I was hoping for awesome awesomeness and it wound up being just a pretty good flick.

      • Lol, no we don’t draft up their movies. Out of the writers on the site, I see the most by far. Usually what happens is I’ll see a movie and review it, and then he’ll see it and completely agree with me, so he won’t feel the need to review the film as well.

        There are times however, where if we both see the same films together, we divide them between us (J. Edgar and Jack and Jill, Moneyball and 50/50).

        He specifically asked to do Tintin though. Mainly because he’s a huge fan of the comics. In return, he told me I could have The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a compromise I was more than satisfied with.

  8. Finally got this from Netflix, and MY GOD!!! Awesome looking film, from start to stop, just phenomenal… granted I didn’t care a lick for the story, but it was a serviceable enough vehicle for some eye-popping visuals. I may have to buy a copy of this one.

    • Yeah, exactly. Looked great, story was a ok. I also thought Tintin himself was a little bland. I know that’s supposed to be the point, but still..

      There were a few times when it bugged me whether the film was trying to straight up be a cartoon, or be mo-cap or what…

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