Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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The Adventures of Tintin

Film #254


Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

Year 1, Day 253

BEFORE: Back in Boston and windy as usual. I’ve got the Apple TV warmed up and ready to play today’s film, The Adventures of Tintin. Originally scheduled for the animation chain a few weeks ago, it’s now making an appearance shortly after watching Spielberg’s other 2011 film, War Horse. The Adventures of Tintin is based off a series of Belgian comics (none of which I’ve read - big surprise there) and is the first animated film Spielberg has directed. I’ve been wanting to see this film ever since the first teasers came out and now I’m finally getting around to watching it.

AFTER: Many comparisons can be made between The Adventures of Tintin and one of Spielberg’s earlier films, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both have that same spirit of adventure, mystery and intrigue, and lots of action. There’s never a dull moment in The Adventures of Tintin but I couldn’t help but feel somewhat separated while watching the film.

Before I get into that though, let me talk about the good, or in other words, the animation. The film was made using performance capture meaning all the actors came in and physically acted out their parts on set. The data from these performances are then sent to the computers where the 3D models are superimposed onto the actors so they take their character’s form. What this results in is twofold: more realistic-looking actions and seamless interaction with the environment. While the look of the film doesn’t match the 2D hand drawn style of the original comics (although there is a brief nod to it in the beginning of the film), I don’t think it matters. It looks exactly like a live-action film but everything’s just a bit off to let you know it’s animation. Not like Beowulf which also had performance capture but tried to make it look like live-action; The Adventures of Tintin uses the non-photorealism to it’s advantage to provide a more immersive experience than can be achieved with live-action.

There is more to like about this film than the animation but I think it’ll be easier to talk about those things alongside my complaints. As I mentioned earlier, something that The Adventures of Tintin does extremely well is evoke a sense of adventure. All of the action combined with the journeys to exotic locales and you get a lot of excitement. It’s fun to watch because visually there’s always something new happening, something to pique your interest and keep your eyes glued to the screen. But what isn’t as exciting is the story that goes along with the visuals. The overall story of solving the mystery of the Unicorn - what happened, where’s the treasure - was fine. It was a great accompaniment and provide enough background excitement when paired with the visual action. But there was some part that didn’t click for me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t read the comics and am not familiar with the stories, but I don’t think that’s it. First off, and this probably is just a personal thing, Tintin (Jamie Bell) just looks like a kid. He’s not - he’s a journalist, lives alone with his dog, travels the world with him, and also uses firearms - but I constantly was confused because Tintin looks like a kid. Anyway, back to the real problem with the story, it revolves around the mystery. Early on you learn that something fishy is going on with the Unicorn, but it’s not until halfway through that you learn of the importance of the ship. So until that point you just have to go along with what’s going on in the film. It’s interesting enough to watch but you’re just meandering along aimlessly. After Tintin and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) land in North Africa, then things start to click.

The Adventures of Tintin accomplishes the main task I needed it to: it got my interested and invested in the character of Tintin and the world he lives in. This film may have had a few story issues (maybe just personal ones, but I think some film specific ones as well) but it was still very enjoyable. For any fan of the comics or any fan of Spielberg’s work (especially Indiana Jones), I would recommend putting this on your list.

RATING: 4 out of 5