The Adventures of Tintin
Being American I, of course, knew next to nothing about Tintin. Other than it was hugely popular in Europe, but something no one cared about in America. Like Asterix, or Nutella. For starters, I thought the dog was named Tintin. But I had probably confused that with the dog Rin Tin Tin (something I also know nothing about). I also thought Tintin (the human, that is) was a kid who solved mysteries. A teenager maybe, something like the Hardy Boys. So I was also surprised to see he was an adult. Guns, I was also surprised by the presence of guns.
Anyways, I was still vaguely excited about THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (or, as it’s known here in Germany, Tim und Struppi). It looked fun. And it is fun. It’s so old-fashioned in its authenticity. It sticks to its guns following a story of grand adventure and mystery and intrigue. Sure, the mystery isn’t that interesting, but it’s not convoluted or stupid. No hokey pablum or pandering here. It certainly doesn’t feel like a Hollywood family adventure film. It’s almost too mature for that.
There’s even plenty of real danger. Gunshots and sword fights with people dying and everything. Sure, the violence is clearly as sanitized as possible to ensure it stays family friendly. But it is commendable to actually include such things again. Surprising as Spielberg is the guy who famously replaced guns with walkie-talkies in E.T.
This is probably the first time motion capture animation has almost surpassed the dead-behind-the-eyes problem like so many of its predecessors. And I’m glad I didn’t see it in 3D as there’s a lot of action going on, and a lot of fast movement, which is the enemy of 3D in my opinion. Spielberg also uses a few too many of the “things poking into the frame” thing that is always annoying.
The action is a lot of fun, with a few really great sequences. Tintin trying to slip among a bunch of sleeping crew members to steal keys is especially amusing. But the big set piece, a chase scene in a Moroccan seaside down, done in one continuous “shot,” is the real show stopper. Really fun.
If anything it seems a bit weak though because Tintin just isn’t that interesting a character. They try and frame Captain Haddock as the more interesting person while Tintin is just a resourceful guy who asks himself a lot of questions out loud (if it wasn’t for his dog, he’d look like a crazy person). He just doesn’t have much personality at all. But the quirky side characters may be the charm of the comics, I have no idea.
But I don’t expect Tintin mania to be sweeping America any time soon. I think it’ll be a popular movie, and sequels will be welcomed, but it’s still just not that exciting a property.