THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
**** (out of 5)
December 21, 2011
Jamie Bell as TINTIN
Andy Serkis as CAPTAIN HADDOCK
Daniel Craig as IVANOVICH SAKHARINE
Simon Pegg as INSPECTOR THOMPSON
Nick Frost THOMSON
Directed by: Stven Spielberg
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Over the years, I have identified myself as a “Star Wars baby.” I was born in 1971, which means I hadn’t even turned six when “Star Wars” first came out. I love the sense of adventure that series has created over the years (including the prequels, thank you very much). But as much as I owe the entertainment of my childhood to George Lucas in that galaxy far, far away, I also owe a lot to Steven Spielberg.
As influential as “Star Wars” was to me as a child, the Indiana Jones saga had an equal impact. In fact, when I bought my first VCR with my own money in the early 80s (not an inexpensive endeavor, let me tell you), the first videotape I bought was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
For me, Steven Spielberg’s films exemplified fun adventure with real bad guys and danger around every corner. I know he’s done plenty of other films, most of which are fantastic in their own right. But I have a sense of giddiness when I see him returning to the kind of movies that made me wide-eyed with wonder before I was distracted by girls, money and general grown-up things.
“The Adventures of Tintin” represents such a return for Spielberg. This is a movie of high adventure, wrapped in a relatively safe package. It has bad guys shooting real guns, and it takes the audience on a wild treasure hunt across oceans and deserts. What could be more Indiana Jones than that?
The story, which is based on the Belgian comic books from the early part of the 20th century, follows a young reporter who stumbles onto a mystery of a treasure. With his trusty dog Snowy in tow, Tintin partners with a drunken sea captain to find a pirate treasure lost at sea hundreds of years ago.
As much as “The Adventures of Tintin” is a throwback to the old-school Spielberg adventures from the 1980s, it’s also a series of firsts for the veteran director. Even though Spielberg’s used plenty of computer generated effects in his movies (most obviously the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park”), this is his first film rendered entirely in a computer. It’s also his first use of full-character motion capture, and the first time he’s ever utilized 3D.
This year has been as groundbreaking of a year for 3D as 2009 was when James Cameron shocked the world with “Avatar.” It’s not that the 3D has gotten any better, but we’ve seen master filmmakers embrace the technology for their own work. Just as Martin Scorsese showed the young pups in Hollywood how to truly create depth in his film “Hugo,” Spielberg employs 3D to grab the viewer by the throat and drag them into the adventure on screen.
Additionally, the motion capture and CGI rendered humans look clean and pleasant. Part of this is because it skews a bit into the cartoon landscape, but for the most part, it’s not trapped in the uncanny valley, which is somewhere that mo-cap director Robert Zemeckis could never crawl out of. (And after watching “The Adventures of Tintin,” movies like “The Polar Express” and “Mars Needs Moms” are pretty much unwatchable.)
At its heart, “The Adventures of Tintin” is a children’s adventure, but it’s far from childish. Spielberg assembles a film with lot of fun moments and a plot that isn’t too convoluted for the younger members of the audience to understand. It also runs a brisk 107 minutes long, not overstaying its welcome too much, even if the pacing of the ending gets a bit anticlimactic.
“The Adventures of Tintin” honors it original source material while bringing the story into the modern world of filmmaking. It’s not meant to have deep, intricate character arcs, but rather tell a relatively straightforward story of pirates, treasure hunters and world-traveling excitement. “The Adventures of Tintin” is just pure family entertainment, which is perfect for this time of year.