Review: ‘Tintin’ moves but still struggles with motion capture problems

The Sioux City Journal movie review of “Adventures of Tintin” offers praises and appropriate criticisms.

Steven Spielberg was the right guy to direct “The Adventures of Tintin” but he still hasn’t solved the problems of motion-capture animation.

In the new film, characters still have that audio-animatronic look that made “The Polar Express” and “A Christmas Carol” so creepy.

Realizing as much, Spielberg keeps a lot of scenes in the dark and shows characters from the side and the back as much as possible.

Still, when he shows Tintin, a Neil Patrick Harris clone, head-on, it’s a bit unsettling. Looking like a wax figure, he’s not quite the boy we’d hoped he be.

The story? Packed with action – which begs the question, Why do this as an animated film? Easily, it could have been a junior “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” filled with more adventure per minute than most video games.

Jamie Bell – the boy in “Billy Elliot” – provides the voice for Tintin, a kid with a dog, a scroll and a quest for adventure. He uses just about every mode of transportation available to help an old sailor (voiced by Andy Serkis, the king of motion-capture acting) connect the dots to his own lost ark.

The two (and Tintin’s lovable dog Snowy) move quickly but can’t sidestep an opera singer (boring) or a bunch of snakes.
Spielberg does a great job with 3D (putting the audience on Tintin’s shoulders as he ziplines through cities, flies over deserts and slips out of a ship of pirates. He’s a cool kid – despite his Bob’s Big Boy look. Bell makes him every bit as attractive as Indiana Jones but, again, he can’t dodge the problems inherent in motion-capture.

Clearly, pioneers like Spielberg and Bob Zemeckis think there’s value in a process that doesn’t require actors to run around sets.
Until it looks better, we’re skeptical. Tintin is a strong, heroic kid – a real role model.

But he isn’t going to win new converts if he’s just another pawn in a filmmakers’ test reel.

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