“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.