Sam Fragoso: What a delight The Adventures of Tintin is. Directed by master craftsman Steven Spielberg this exciting and jubilant roller-coaster ride of a film is a well-welcomed surprise, guaranteed to please audiences of all ages.
Based of the comic books series by Hergé the film follows adolescent journalist Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell), his faithful dog Snowy, and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) as the they embark on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship that was initially commanded by an ancestor of Haddock’s 300 years ago.
However, where there’s a valuable treasure, there are others with the same objective. Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) is their biggest threat – a tyrannical, wealthy, and vile individual looking for the third model ship called the Unicorn. Our plot eventually expands. Tintin, Haddock, and Sakharine are all puzzled, desperately looking for the third and final replicate ship. Within these beautifully crafted models is a small note. Once one collects all three scrolls, the lustrous treasure is revealed.
As the three major players (amongst other subplots) venture around the world, they ultimately end up in Morocco – where the court of Sheikh contains the prized third model. Plenty of brilliantly framed action sequences ensue revolving around their quest for the Unicorn.
My explanation of the story may seem rather pedestrian and straight forward – but The Adventures of Tintin is anything but. At last we have received a complex animation film that has an engrossing and dense mystery at its core. The animation incorporated is mesmerizing and downright stunning. Every shot, shadow, reaction, and scene is captured with exuberance and suspense.
Its faults run deep – but don’t diminish the experience to unwatchable. Made by Nickelodeon it certainly has the typical, manufactured traits that only satisfy children. Which would be fine if the picture was punctuated with such elevated language and serious social commentary.
For being a mere hour and 48 minutes, it feels far longer. The exposition isn’t the problem – it’s the misanthropic adventures that become tiresome. Again, though, these are minor quibbles that are ultimately overshadowed by the films plethora of positives: flawless editing, lucid voice work, and genuinely exhilarating action set pieces.
With The Adventures of Tintin I believe it’s time for the US to get behind the UK and the troves of love they have for this character and series. Who would’ve guessed an aesthetically gorgeous animation epic would ultimately mark Mr. Spielberg’s return to sincerity and most of all, quality?
The film was screened in 3D. Once again, the experience was underwhelming. Not worth the surplus.
3 stars out of 4
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Jordan Winter: Recently Steven Spielberg has been one busy man, not only has he been producing numerous television and film properties over the past year or so but he has also been juggling two directorial properties. While War Horse isn’t due to be released for another month, his latest offering, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, is based on the classic, best-selling comic books created by the Belgian artist Georges Remi (also known under the pen name Herge).
The comics follow a young Belgian reporter named Tintin and his dog Snowy as they go about their days solving mysteries and getting into various misadventures along the way. Directed by Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson and written by the British trio of Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffat, the animation marks a new turn in Spielberg’s cinematic journey as he ditches live action for motion capture, and while the film takes full advantage of the technology at hand to create lavish environments, the story itself is too disorientating to hold an adult audience’s attention for its one hundred minutes run time.
As the film starts, Tintin (Jamie Bell) along with his faithful dog Snowy, is enjoying his day meandering around a local market when he finds an intricately designed model ship called the Unicorn available for sale by a somewhat anxious merchant. As Tintin attempts to unravel the mystery behind the legend of the Unicorn and its secret cargo, he sets off a sequence of events which sees the young reporter come up against the mysterious Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), befriend the alcohol-loving Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and help clueless Interpol agents Thomson and Thompson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) in their many endeavors. Action, adventure, explosions, and bumbling detectives follow as Tintin races throughout the world to solve the mystery of the Unicorn.
It is a phrase which is thrown around a lot when evaluating films within the action-adventure genre, but The Adventures of Tintin is literally a non-stop thrill ride. But, while this phrase would usually contribute to the praise of a motion picture, in the context of this film, it becomes a part of the criticism. From the beautifully crafted opening titles to the closing scene, there isn’t a moment which goes by in which something isn’t being blown up, jumped on, ridden or used as a makeshift weapon. It is as if Spielberg doesn’t trust the primarily young audience members to actually engage with the film when a lavish action set-piece isn’t taking place, and because of this, the audience is presented with a film which becomes disorientating due to its constant fast and frenetic pace. Also, due to the narratives exhilarating pace, the film requires that many of its large set-pieces take place one after the over, thereby detracting heavily away from their overall impact on the viewer.
Aside from the fast-paced nature of the motion-picture however, the performance capture works well, as the computer generated backgrounds, locations and scenery are a startling indicator of how far technology regarding motion capture and three-dimensional imagery has come in the last decade. When it comes to the characters themselves however, while the motion capture allows for startling facial detail, it cannot replicate the emotional disparity of real human beings. The script written by three of the most promising British filmmakers at the moment contains a multitude of in-jokes, friendly humor and an attempt at characterization. But again due to the pace of the film, this aspect falls flat due to the central narrative stream taking precedence over everything else on-screen throughout its running time.
The Adventures of Tintin is a family-friendly, fast-paced, loose, action-adventure film that will no doubt be lauded by children across the land. It is essentially Spielberg doing what he does best: entertaining the public. But unlike the Indiana Jones series and E.T, among many of his other films, Tintin is unable to cross generational boundaries to become a film for audiences of all ages. While children will appreciate the non-stop, in-your-face action sequences which are constantly loud, bright and full of computer-generated destruction, older cinema-goers will no doubt become tired of the repetitive series of events.
With a Tintin sequel and even a trilogy potentially on the cards for the future, it would have been nice if Spielberg had attempted to scale back the action sequences for further plot and character development, rather than throwing every available device at the viewer hoping that something would eventually stick. While this approach may work with young children viewing the picture, it will almost certainly pass most adults by.
Posted November 14, 2011.