The Adventures of Tintin (Tintin) wasn’t high on my list of movies I wanted to see this holiday season. Considering Spielberg has his Oscar-mongering War Horse out at the same time, I wasn’t sure how well this film about a plucky reporter and his canine sidekick would be executed. Once again, Spielberg pulls out all the stops to bring us a visually stunning flick with all the adventure of Indiana Jones.
Tintin takes place in the 1940’s where our hero Tintin (Jamie Bell), a young sleuth-y reporter, and his dog Snowy are plunged head-first into an adventure almost as soon as you get your 3D glasses on. Tintin buys a beautiful model ship which becomes instantly desirable by many undesirable characters. As it turns out, there’s a mystery surrounding the ship the model was based on, with a clue hidden in the model itself. Tintin and Snowy set off to figure out the mystery while being threatened and chased by our villain, Sakharine (Daniel Craig). He teams up with a delightfully drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and together the three unlikely companions take us on a wild ride of intrigue, laughs, and adventure.
Tintin was created using 3D Motion Capture. We’ve all seen what happens when this is strategy is poorly executed; Mars Needs Moms and The Polar Express were disturbingly distracting in the visual department. Tintin however, has come a long way in perfecting this technology, standing up to the likes of Avatar — and truly surpassing it in its own ways. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this one in 3D. There are a few 3D gags, but mostly the technology is used to flesh out Tintin’s world and give you on amazing sight to behold. The 3D Motion Capture makes you forget you are watching an animated film at times and gets you totally immersed in the surroundings. As an animated movie, Tintin allows scenes that could never be pulled off (or be believable) in a live action film; there’s a chase scene in which all of the protagonists get separated while being chased down hill, and the camera continuously moves from character to character as each goes in and out of view. The characters look surprisingly realistic, though each has at least one exaggerated feature to remind you of its comic book origins.
The cast of Tintin is strong and well thought out. Jamie Bell makes for a convincing and endearing Tintin — not sounding young enough to turn off older viewers, but not being too old to alienate the kids in the audience. He pulls off being ‘plucky’ with lively enthusiasm, yet he’s never cloying. Daniel Craig is a wonderful villain, changing his voice to fit the character as though he’s been voice-acting for years. It reminded me of Mark Hamill’s voice-acting work — totally impressive, and just different enough from his real voice that you aren’t truly sure it’s him. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were perfect as the Thompson Twins, playing off of each other to provide a bit of comic relief as two incompetent Scottish Yard detectives. The real stand-out was Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. Serkis is such a wonderful voice actor that he can really play any role given to him. The beauty of it all is that our cast not only voiced the characters, they applied their physical acting skills through the Motion Capture to make the dialog completely believable and relevant to what you saw on the screen.
There are very few reasons not to see The Adventures of Tintin. It may be a little on the adult-side for young children, as the story contains the use of guns and alcohol (both together and separately). Then again, so did the Indiana Jones series, and we all have eagerly introduced our youngsters to hours of gun-slinging, treasure hunting, live-action adventure with Indy from time to time. Spielberg gets props in my book for arguably creating one of his most imaginative, playful, and captivating films yet.
I give The Adventures of Tintin 4.5 “alternative fuel sources” out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards