Adventures of Tintin review: ‘Pure Spielberg fun’

FUSED FILM: If there is anything that The Adventures of Tintin director Steven Spielberg understands, it’s the thrill of adventure and the excitement of a treasure hunt. Of course The Adventures of Tintin has all the recipes of being that and more. You got Spielberg at the helm, then you have Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson producing, followed by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, and Steven Moffat writing the screenplay, and finally John Williams conducting the score. It’s only fair that the film be called one of Spielberg’s best action/adventure film since Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, because Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was beyond a travesty.

It’s easy to believe that The Adventures of Tintin would do so well overseas given the fact that the character is a comic book icon that humbly surpasses the likes of Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman. In fact it has already earned the top spot in most of the major markets overseas. So could American audiences overlook the fact that Tintin is a cult character and the soullessness in motion capture? I’d like to think so.

The only way to truly honor Herge’s work was to make this an animated film, but to truly bring Tintin to life it needed to be shot using motion-capture technology. Motion-capture technology has been taking a beating for its characters who lack depth and emotion, but none of that appeared in The Adventures of Tintin. Moreover, some of the scenes in the film wouldn’t work if shot in live action or traditional animation. Take Tintin’s ever faithful terrier Snowy for instance. While a well-trained dog could do many things, a well-trained dog is also very limited and most likely could not perform the over the top stunts that Snowy pulled off in this film. Thus using the motion capture technology was completely necessary and it created for some more comical and exciting scenes.

Played by Jamie Bell, Tintin is an investigative journalist with a keen eye for adventure and the truth. Upon purchasing a model ship, Tintin becomes intertwined in a chase for one of the most sought out treasures known to man. His dangerous but adventure-filled journey takes him across the deserts and the sea (excuse the adventurous pun). Along with his trusty dod Snowy and the salty Captain Haddock (voiced and performed by mo-cap extraordinaire Andy Serkis), Tintin ventures various terrains to stop the villainous Ivanovich Sakharine (voiced and performed by Daniel Craig) from achieving his goals.

That lack of depth in motion-capture character that was aforementioned, was not seen in The Adventures of Tintin. You can see that sparkle in Tintin’s eye when he comes across a clue that leads him to his next destination and Captain Haddock’s vivacious storytelling of a battle between his ancestral sea captain and the nefarious pirate Redkham is nothing sort of captivating. Evan Ivanovich Sakharine villainy is passionate. You wouldn’t even realize that Daniel Craig played the reprehensible villain. This only proves that motion-capture technology can be a useful tool in the film industry but only if implemented in the right way.

But perhaps the best character to watch on the big screen was Captain Haddock. It’s not that the other performances weren’t equally as good, its just that Serkis has more experience performing in motion-capture than they do. Serkis brings the spark of life into the motion-capture scene by playing as the salty alcoholic sea captain as noted by the alcoholic fumes he exhales in his dialogue.

However the film goes far beyond just one character, there is a particular action sequence in the streets of Morocco that will have audiences on the edge of their seats. It is not because it was taken in looks as though it was shot in one take, it’s because of its seamless and imaginative transition from one action scene to the next.

But let’s not forget to give credit to Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, and Steven Moffat for adapting three of Herge’s illustrated novels, The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) into an amazing story. Purists may not be completely on board with the way the three adapted the stories, but they will respect the film’s pacing and the nods that the writers gave to each of the novels.

Oh, and John Williams is back. Those whimsy jazzy tunes are Williams signature style of music making and is a tribute to who he is as a conductor.

In laments terms, The Adventures of Tintin is a visual spectacle that is not to be missed. Enthralling action sequences, beautiful detail in the set pieces, and a wonderful introduction of fantastic characters. It is one of this year’s best films, and hopefully it earns enough to warrant a sequel that is to be helmed by Peter Jackson, who has been enthusiastically talking about taking his own shot at helming the director’s role for The Adventures of Tintin sequel.



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