Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

As a kid, two pieces of pop culture I consumed frequently were Hergé’s Tintin comic books, in French of course, and Steven Spielberg’s films. It is a wish come true, to finally have a Tintin film on the big screen. But what is even more exciting is that Steven Spielberg has, not only captured everything I loved about the original comics, but also the magic of his own earlier work.

Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin is easily the most exciting and entertaining film I have seen in a long time. It has a quick pace and a very simple plot. Sheer enjoyment value alone should be enough to not label it as minor Spielberg, as it has been referenced as many times. The Adventures of Tintin is not minor in anyway, in fact it is a great accomplishment, even for a filmmaker whose entire career is chockfull of great accomplishments.

I tend to be careful when labelling a film as perfect, but the more I think about it, the film really is near perfect. Spielberg has crafted a non-stop action film that feels like the spiritual sequel to the original Indiana Jones films.

At times prior to the release, I was worried that the animation would be distracting or lifeless, but I could not have been more wrong. WETA’s brilliant motion-capture has allowed Spielberg to bring this world to life without compromise. It allowed him to cast any actor he wished, without worrying about prosthetics or likeness to the characters.

As such, we get fantastic performances from actors who, in real life, look nothing like the characters they play. While Jamie Bell does a great job as the titular Tintin, it is Andy Serkis who once again steals the show with his portrayal of the drunken Captain Haddock.

It is actually the relationship between Haddock and Tintin that surprised me most. Haddock is portrayed as an alcoholic, and the film never shies away from this. If anything, much of the film is based around the fact he cannot function without alcohol. This aspect of the film is one that shows the change in sensibility in Spielberg from just ten years ago, when he digitally edited out the shotguns from E.T., as he felt uncomfortable having guns pointed at children. This is a change he now regrets, and it shows in this film. Not only does Tintin, a child, spend much of his time dealing with a drunk, but the amount of death and gun fights in this film is quite shocking. That is not to say it is gory, or inappropriate for children, but rather that this is surprising coming from this filmmaker.

No matter the project, Crystal Skull excluded, Spielberg always puts his whole into the filmmaking process, and The Adventures of Tintin is no exception. It is his first animated film, but he feels entirely at home with the medium. The animation is exquisite and his control of the digital camera shows a filmmaker at the top of his game. It is an easy film to fall in love with, and I have done just that. It may be exactly what you would expect from a Spielberg adventure film, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

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One Response to Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

  1. I’d argue that this film had some great moments (including the scene with the cranes, hilarious!), but overall it fell flat. The only character I really care about is the dog, who really does put all the other dogs in the universe to shame. I didn’t grow up with Tintin, and came in with no nostalgia, just a general respect for the original comics (which I had read maybe a handful). The animation was pretty fantastic, and I felt confident from the announcement of the project that motion capture was the way to go for this film. Spielberg did a great job there.

    But in terms of crafting a story that does more than engage me every other 10 minutes with a new action sequence, he failed. Every bit of dialogue that’s not within an action scene felt like the worst kind of forced exposition, and left NOTHING to the viewer to reason out. I found that insulting both to my intelligence as well as all the kids in the theater. One of the greatest expressions to witness on a child’s face is the look of realization and recognition when he reasons out two parts of a story being to him. Even when it’s not hard for an adult to make the connection, a child can feel like he just figured out a secret, a secret that suddenly puts the whole story in a whole new light. If a child has nothing to discover while watching an action-animation film, then what will be waiting for me, an adult viewer?

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