The Adventures of Tintin: movie review (VIDEO)
Steven Spielberg brings Tintin to the big screen in this action-packed adventure, more highflying than its staid comic-book hero.
WETA Digital Ltd./Reuters
If, like me, you find the movie technique known as motion capture creepy, you might be put off going to see Steven Spielbergâ€™s 3-D â€śThe Adventures of Tintin.â€ť Motion capture is a sort of halfway house between live-action and animation, with real actors, wired with reflectors and filmed by multiple digital cameras, employed as stand-ins for characters who are then animated against preset backgrounds.Â
In the past, this technique, as demonstrated in movies like Robert Zemeckisâ€™s â€śThe Polar Expressâ€ť and â€śBeowulf,â€ť came across as machine-tooled â€“ soulless. The main achievement of â€śTintinâ€ť is that at least the cartoon people and pets come across as characters and not hollow, humanoid entities.
This is not, as it turns out, quite enough of an achievement for me. â€śTintinâ€ť is a mĂ©lange of second-tier derring-do out of â€śRaiders of the Lost Ark.â€ť Spielberg has transferred his mania for graphic storytelling into a new realm, but essentially weâ€™re watching a live-action variation on some pretty old stuff.Â
The exploits are based on three classic Tintin books by the Belgian comic-book artist HergĂ© (the pseudonym for journalist and illustrator Georges Remi) â€“ â€śThe Crab With the Golden Claws,â€ť â€śThe Secret of the Unicorn,â€ť and â€śRed Rackhamâ€™s Treasure.â€ť Those titles alone provide a taste of the filmâ€™s flavor. With his quiff of orangey hair and his boy-wonder doggedness, Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his trusty terrier Snowy circle the globe in pursuit of buried treasure. Along for the ride â€“ which entails airplanes, frigates, and motorcyles â€“ is the boozy sea captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Chief nemesis is the malevolent Sakharine (Daniel Craig), with whom Haddock has, as they say, a history.
There are some amusing bits: An opera diva belts out arias and shatters glass in glorious 3-D; the intrepid Snowy rides to the rescue more than once. But Spielberg makes the mistake of piling on the action nonstop, and even though heâ€™s a whiz at dynamic compositions even in this computerized format, enough is enough. Itâ€™s the same mistake most action directors with a smidgen of Spielbergâ€™s talent make all the time. The â€śPirates of the Caribbeanâ€ť series is a prime culprit. (A one-sentence review of the penultimate film in that series could have read: â€śIs it over yet?â€ť)Â
The cartoon character Tintin, first introduced in 1929, has been so wildly popular in Europe that Spielberg and his producer Peter Jackson may be hoping for a similar bonanza stateside. But Tintin â€“ and â€śThe Adventures of Tintinâ€ť â€“ may prove a bit too quaint and well-mannered for American audiences. Maybe this is why Spielberg throws so much highflying action, uncharacteristic of HergĂ©, into the mix. Heâ€™s trying to infuse a European-style boy sleuth escapade with some American-style whiz bang. Heâ€™s hoping, in vain I think, that this motion-capture â€śTintinâ€ť will yield box office â€śGoldgold.â€ť Grade:Â B (Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness, and brief smoking.)