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Thursday, December 29, 2011


Tintin (Jamie Bell) works with Thomson and Thompson
(Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) to solve a mystery in The Adventures of Tintin.

3 Stars

Though The Adventures of Tintin is breezy fun, one can't help but think the pairing of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson should have turned out something more exciting than this. Much has been made of the meeting of the minds of Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings, but not a ton comes of it. The film is visually interesting and features one of the most breathtaking chase sequences in some time, but the film is lacking a soul. It just moves along and hits its marks, but there's nothing inspired about it. It's a lot like War Horse, in that respect—competent but somewhat forgettable.

The film is based on the extraordinarily popular comic book series by Herge, and it follows the titular young reporter (Jamie Bell) and his dog, Snowy, on an adventure around the world. It all begins when he purchases a model ship at the market. Almost immediately, he's urged to give the ship up and even given the opportunity—by a Mr. Sakharine (Daniel Craig)—to name his price. He declines, only to find the ship stolen later that evening, after a stop at the library to find out more about the mysterious vessel.

The plot thickens after a man is shot on Tintin's doorstep over a warning he gives the boy regarding the ship. Tintin is then kidnapped and imprisoned on a ship headed for the Middle East. Onboard, he meets Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), who may hold the secret to solving this mystery. They just need to escape their captors and get Haddock sober enough to remember the legend of the Unicorn.

Tintin largely feels like Indiana Jones-lite. The rip-roaring score is there, as is the dense exposition. The action scenes, too, feel like they could come out of an Indy film. What's missing, then? Indy himself. I was totally unfamiliar with Tintin as a brand and a character, and I never really connected to him. I was more interested in Haddock, actually, who was funny and had an engaging arc. Tintin, I guess, is just some resourceful whiz kid. He's far from dislikable, but he could have been a little more fleshed out.

The look of the film is very interesting. Some are saying the film could, and perhaps should, have been live-action. I disagree whole-heartedly. The performance capture looks great and gives the film a comic-like feeling (the intro credits help a lot, also). I already mentioned the highlight of the film—a thrilling chase through a Moroccan village. It's done almost entirely in one take—something that would have been impossible with a live-action interpretation.

I was surprised how little the 3D added to the film. You'd think a director of Spielberg's caliber would have done something really special with the technology, especially after what we saw Scorsese do with Hugo. But regardless how many dimensions you see it in, The Adventures of Tintin is a good time. It's a slight disappointment considering the talent involved, but it's still an entertaining and worthwhile film.

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