Title: The Adventures of Tintin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Cary Elwes
If it was all about looks, “The Adventures of Tintin” could contend for best picture of the year. The motion-capture animation is exquisite. From the epic-level action sequences, to the inquisitive chatter moments, the eyes will be treated to continuous pleasure in this 107 minute feature directed by Steven Spielberg.
Having Spielberg’s talents is usually enough, but audiences will also get a sizable helping of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital CG, along with charismatic cinematography by Janusz Kaminisky. Oh, and the music score by the great John Williams creates the tonal atmosphere for this adventurous jaunt.
And here’s the “but”…the story and dialogue is pure mediocrity. As in, we’ve experienced all these sequences & characters before.
Now granted, Tintin is based off the famous European comic book, so the filmmakers are staying true to the characters created by writer Herge (Georges Remi). What they – scribes Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat, and Joe Cornish – did differently is take a variety of plot points from three Tintin books and mesh them all together. And somehow, it’s the same old story, same old song and dance, my friends.
Tintin (Jamie Bell) is the world-renowned boyish journalist that always covers the most fascinating stories. At his side, is his white fox terrier, Snowy. This time, the duo stumbles upon a story revolving around cryptic scrolls hidden in miniature display models depicting a lost famed pirate ship. Having a key interest in these replicas, is Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig); who hijacks a major freighter and holds its Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) hostage in the attempt to gain vital information on the lost ship’s whereabouts. Tintin, Snowy and Haddock reluctantly team up – with nothing but hunches – in order to foil Sakharine’s agenda, and learn more about the mysterious past that hovers around the ancient pirate vessel.
Whether the following has any bearing on your animation preferences or not: some may find enjoyment in how the characters do not resemble the actors who were motion-capturing/voicing them. This seemingly small detail adds more to the escapism, which is why many of us seek out these types of flicks. Aside from that, and everything already mentioned earlier, the rest of the presentation doesn’t really offer too much. The story – for those that never followed the books (like me) is a conglomeration of any blockbuster adventure piece from the last thirty years. It’s almost as if Spielberg wanted to make an animated version of Pirates of the Caribbean (count how many reviewers use that comparison). The story arc and character progression is essentially the same as Bruckheimer’s franchise; and Spielberg clearly borrows heavily from his own movie resume as well. And while that sounds like a hell of a tasty brew, it kind of has a stale flavoring to it at this stage of the game.
Even with the rehash of a plot points from cinema’s past, the visual juggernaut can alleviate some of those thoughts and overcome the under-developed dialogue and cheap physical humor built in for the younger audiences. Make no mistake about it, this is an adventure and provides a steady dose of escapism for all ages to bask in. You just wish there could have been better storytelling in certain areas. In other words, the sharpness of the physical attributes does not always play nice with blandness of the dialogue and working script.
Overall, “The Adventure of Tintin” is an eye-dazzler. That said, it could have used another set of eyes to check out the written elements, for the physical attraction by far outweighs the mental stimulation. You’ve all heard this story before, folks, but it’s amazing how looks can make up the difference.
By Joe Belcastro