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The Adventures of Tintin - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Adventures of Tintin
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: C+
Cinematography: C+
Editing: B+
Animation: B

Steven Spielberg very much takes the "Adventure" part of The Adventures of Tintin to heart. It's widely reported that both he and co-producer Peter Jackson are rabid Tintin fans, which is something I did not learn until this movie came along. Like a great many Americans, all I knew was the first thing about Tintin -- which is to say, somewhere out there, there was something called Tintin. What kind of name is "Tintin," anyway?

No matter. Tintin has an appointment with adventure! No time to waste! This movie was filmed with motion capture animation, which has clearly come a long way since The Polar Express -- but, arguably, not quite far enough. Now, animators can almost put life into character' eyes. They're so close. Indeed, many close ups of Tintin's own face are so amazing with detail, it's almost like watching an HD image of an actual human face. His big, blue eyes shine. But there's still that odd shimmer to them, the barely perceptible lifelessness. His life is given to him via Jamie Bell's performance, through both speech and motion-capture movement. But the face doesn't look quite right.

To Tintin's credit, his face looks the most vital of all those in the film. The villain, played by Daniel Craig, has a far more persistent, odd stiffness to him. The same could be said of Haddock (Andy Serkis), the sea captain with whom Tintin is on the search for clues leading to a treasure buried at sea.

And so we get a relentless bustle of activity, from beginning to end of this story, almost as a means of distracting us from these details. It actually almost works. It can't be denied that The Adventures of Tintin is entertaining, if seemingly derivative. Maybe all this comes from comic books that pre-date everything seen in Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I don't know. From the perspective of a movie-going audience, it hardly matters. Very little of this movie seems to come from a place of true originality.

Admittedly, I loved Snowy, Tintin's enterprising Terrier. Unlike, say, the two bumbling police officers (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), with their feeble humor that consistently falls flat, Snowy provides pretty much the only genuine comic diversions. It seems half the clues Tintin finds are with the assistance of Snowy, and that never grows old.

And even though they lack depth, like the movie on the whole, there are several elaborate action sequences that are pure, unadulterated fun. It's this action that justifies the animation at the expense of live action, if not the use of motion capture. I can certainly tell you this: there is absolutely no reason to see this movie in 3D. As opposed to Hugo, where the use of 3D enhances pretty much every single shot, in The Adventures of Tintin the effect would easily be the same in 2D. Seeing a movie like this -- like most movies -- in 3D just makes me feel swindled. It is absolutely not worth the added $4 surcharge.

Is it worth seeing at all? I suppose that depends. If you're looking for mindless entertainment, then, sure. If you're looking for a truly enriching movie-going experience, then, no, not really. Spielberg has done better. He's also done worse, but he's done much more that's better. Even this year: Steven Spielberg has two movies opening this month, and War Horse (opening Christmas Day) is the better of the two. It's just that The Adventures of Tintin is aimed at a younger audience. It's kind of too bad, because unlike, say, E.T., this time Spielberg is not offering anything that will resonate with younger audiences clear unto the years when they're growing up.

I've never seen the original Tintin comics, so I can't speak to how well the adaptation is. I don't consider that relevant anyway. The only question is: is the movie good, or isn't it? Sure, it's good. It just isn't great.

Jamie Bell captures motion in THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN.

Overall: B
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