To hear Mark Elloff’s audio review of this movie, click below.[audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2011-12-The-Adventures-of-TinTin-Radio.mp3|titles=2011 12 The Adventures of TinTin Radio]
Offering what may be the most boy-targeted movie of the year, Steven Spielberg manages to reshape the “Indiana Jones” mold into a new high flying adventure. It is not the most concise screenplay ever written, but manages to satisfy fans of the comic while hooking new fans to the series.
Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures present a 3D Motion Capture Film, “The Adventures of Tintin,” directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure, and Daniel Craig as the nefarious Red Rackham. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
The history of TinTin is deep, going back to 1929. The film is a combination of three of Belgium cartoonist Hergé’s books, most predominantly “The Secret of the Unicorn.” TinTin and his dog Snowy, along with the essential cast of characters, are all present in the film in one way or the other.
There is certainly no shortage of explosions, fighting, shootouts, and other assorted derring-do. Almost immediately the script thrusts the intrepid reporter into the action. He casually buys a model ship (the Unicorn) and a few scenes later faces a barrage of bullets at his apartment. The action continues to ramp up as the mystery of the Unicorn’s treasure begins to unfold.
What is immediately lacking from an adult’s perspective is a defined reason why the plot points occur. From the first scene, the action is stringed out for little more reason than “because we need to push the action along.” There is almost no down time between action scenes. While it is a detriment to the more sophisticated pallet, Spielberg does a satisfactory job of managing the pacing. There is a lot to take in, but it is never overwhelming.
Where that criticism breaks down is in the reaction of the kids I got to see this with. The entire sixth grade class of Dunbar Middle School was invited to the screening I attended. Two takeaways; 1. Kids love 3-D. Even the company logos were a source of awe when given the 3-D touch. 2. There was a constant audible reaction to the action. To say these kids were engaged would be an understatement. In a world of 30-second attention spans, this film is proverbial candy.
The animation style is not a copy of Hergé’s style (a fact which is cleverly alluded to in the opening scene), but works in the modern setting. Motion-capture animation was a successful choice for the main characters. It fell apart slightly for the secondary characters, whose features were not as carefully defined. The 3-D is mostly used to add texture and depth. Anything less would have been beneath Spielberg’s artistic eye. Only one inward groan came when he made a cane pop out of the screen at the audience.
Much like the source material, there is no room for women in this world. It is a boy’s world and TinTin plays the part. Running, jumping, chasing, shooting, fighting, and adventuring leave little time for loving. The entire setting is one of boyish innocence.
Spielberg is the perfect choice to bring this adaptation to screen. He alludes to both his and Hergé’s past works throughout the film. The visual appeal of the film is wondrous. The flashback scene is especially well done and shows why Spielberg still has the gift for film. You couldn’t ask for a better director to bring alive a classic story.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: See it. Then go to the library and get the books. Just stay away from the blatantly racist ones.
THREE AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Hergé, Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish.
Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness, and brief smoking.
Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min.