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The Adventures of Tintin

Posted by martinteller on April 18, 2013

I should start by saying I have no attachment to the original comics by Hergé.  I’m aware that it is a beloved series, but I have only a passing familiarity with it and don’t think I’ve ever actually read one of them.  But I was intrigued enough by the trailer to give the film a shot.  Tintin — as voiced by Jamie Bell — is a rather bland character.  His faithful dog, Snowy, has more personality… and possibly more brains.  Tintin himself is something of a blank slate, which may be the character’s purpose but for me it made it harder to identify with him.  We never learn what it is that motivates him to take such absurd risks.  The thrill of adventure?  The promise of an exciting story to boost his fame?  Or is it the desire to see that the right man gets the reward?

Which leads to other big problem, there’s no sense of stakes.  At any time, Tintin could simply say “To hell with this” and walk out of the movie.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Lovable drunk Haddock (a typically fine vocal performance by Andy Serkis) doesn’t get a pile of gold?  Perhaps baddie Sakharine (a fun, if familar, performance by Daniel Craig) would get it instead, but big deal.  We don’t have any feeling why the hero is so invested, so we are not that invested.  It should also be said that the buffoonish characters of Thompson & Thompson (Simon Pegg & Nick Frost) add little comedic value.

In spite of these narrative flaws, it’s a fun adventure.  The motion capture technology works far better than you might expect, achieving a photorealism while avoiding the distracting “uncanny valley” effect by giving the character enough of a cartoonish look and emphasizing the over-the-top action.  Like Spielberg’s masterpiece Raiders of the Lost Ark it careens from one perilous situation to another, giving just enough pause in between to catch your breath and move the exposition forward.  The technology allows for more outrageous spectacle than you could achieve with real-life actors, and most of the action sequences are impressively executed.  The animation also allows for some unusual transitions.

It doesn’t reach the heights of Raiders, which boasts superior characterizations and a far wittier script.  But for an enjoyable diversion you could do much worse.  I give it the same score I gave Spielberg’s other movie of the same year, War Horse, but if I had to choose one to revisit, it’d probably be this one.  Rating: Good (71)


3 Responses to “The Adventures of Tintin”

  1. Jessica said

    Tintin’s role is to be kind of blank. But in the original comis it works. I was not a fan of this film at all, but then I’m brought up with Tintin and have a very close relationshiop to it. This film went too far away from the original spirit for my taste. Just couldn’t take it.

    • Having not read the comic, I’m curious to know… in what ways does it deviate from the original spirit?

      • Jessica said

        It’s a different feeling to the characters for instance. What bugged me immensely was that the captain held a motivational speech to Tintin towards the end. He would NEVER do such a thing in the series. It didn’t fit in at all. Also: a big part of the enjoyment of the series are the sort of crisp landscapes. It gives a lot of room to the sense of travelling, which I didn’t feel at all the same in the movie. The pacing was also very hectic and messy in the movie. It’s not as hysterical in the comic. That’s just a few examples. It’s hard to describe, but the feeling is altogether different.

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