Adventures of Tintin, The (2011)
Release Date: December 21st, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Steven Spielberg Actors: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Kim Stengel
hen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” premiered in 1981, one of director Steven Spielberg’s favorite critiques was a comparison of his film to Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin” comic books. Now, thirty years later, Spielberg has brought to the big screen his own adaptation of the esteemed Belgian series in the form of a computer-animated 3D extravaganza. Ironically, we wish it more closely resembled the adventures of Indiana Jones.
There’s plenty of excitement and adventure but little else. The use of computer imagery and motion capture allows the action sequences to veer into the extremely outlandish, which doesn’t impress nearly as much as the scenes that stay in reality. Many of the over-the-top moments push the boundaries of believability and even outdo the expectedly excessive dream sequences. It’s just not necessary and actually detracts from the intensity as the cartoonish characteristics of these episodes negate any feeling of real danger for our heroes.
When young journalist Tintin (Jaime Bell) purchases a model ship of the Unicorn, a doomed vessel that was lost at sea with a fortune in gold in its bowels, he is thrust into a perilous race to find three scrolls that will point the way to the hidden loot. But as Tintin gathers clues with his trusty dog Snowy, the scheming Mr. Sakharine (Daniel Craig) attempts to stop the resourceful duo and recover the gold for his own devious plans. Tintin’s only hope in reaching the treasure first lies within the hazy memories of Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), a drunken sailor whose forgotten past holds the key to unlocking the secrets of the Unicorn’s enigmatic journey.
Computer animation has reached such an astonishing level of realism that sometimes it seems peculiar for a movie not to have been simply shot as live action. “The Adventures of Tintin” is just one of those movies – motion capture experts have already had to act out all the parts, so why not make a live action film? The original Tintin illustrations were never of this visual quality and here the only exaggeration is in the occasional nose and chin. At least until the stunts begin. At the start, which includes very little character development, an immediate dive into suspenseful ventures, and a hint of backstory via pans across newspaper clippings, a certain immersion into realism exists. This is eventually completely abandoned for physics-defying stunts by the dog and action choreography that highlights creative cinematography over sensibility. Towards the conclusion, the ignorance to gravity is overwhelmingly silly.
The entire film is fast-paced and nonstop. But with fleeting letups, it’s a mode of adventuresome that quickly becomes exhausting. Even during a swift moment of calm, when Haddock and Tintin are stranded in the Sahara, the burly captain hallucinates a “Pirates of the Caribbean” action sequence that once again forces the plot into a state of frenzy. Tintin has been turned into a young Indiana Jones, without the charm but complete with all of the archeologist’s tools: tanks, motorcycles, lightplanes, bazookas, machineguns, and hand-to-hand combat skills. He’s also quite adept at flying (“I interviewed a pilot once”), through an electrical storm no less, shooting, sleuthing, physically outwitting enemies twice his size, and possessing an education of religious symbols and nautical paraphernalia that brings further question to his history. Who is this kid and why is he so well versed at escaping deadly situations? Haddock is equally as lucky when it comes to life-or-death instances, at one point riding the nose of an airplane like something out of “Dr. Strangelove.” The unexplainable braveness, resourcefulness and knowledge, paired with Tintin’s youthfulness, detracts and distracts from the fun – Indiana Jones can do it all, but can this self-proclaimed reporter?
– The Massie Twins