Motion capture animation is a tough thing to pull off. Even when it’s done well, the result in the past has been weird and even kind of frightening. From The Polar Express to Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, people have complained that the animation creates an eerie effect, at that odd stage where you can tell it’s fake, but it’s close to looking real. Well, never has this method been put to better use than Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. It’s the most realistic (and least creepy) use of the technology yet. Its visuals are stunning and they only compliment an already imaginative and very fun story. War Horse may be Spielberg’s attempt at Oscar glory, but this is the one worth seeing.
The story follows a young investigative journalist named Tintin (Jamie Bell) who one days buys a sculpture of a boat for cheap. As it turns out, that boat has a hidden scroll in it with directions to a hidden treasure. However, that scroll is only one of three and the evil Ivanovich (Daniel Craig) is planning on getting them all. Although he’s not searching for a story, Tintin has just been thrust into one and he’s the main subject.
The Adventures of Tintin is certainly not a great movie, but it’s a great experience. It’s something that you’ll have lots of fun watching even though you’ll still acknowledge its flaws. There’s a kindred spirit to the film, one that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. If even a smidgen of your childhood is still left in your body, you’ll feel a joyful exuberance, that tiny puerile part of your sensibilities blossoming. It’s not an easy feeling to explain, but it’s one I wish I could share with those around me. Of course, if you’re being critical, the film’s imagination only goes so far. Its story and the various locales it visits along the way are more akin to a video game with a very loose narrative, which is probably appropriate given its look, but it’s a fun watch nonetheless.
In a sense, it’s an animated Indiana Jones, unsurprising given the director. Its story is over-the-top and most certainly not plausible, but its humor is affecting and its action is unbelievable. The characters aren’t always tied to Earthbound physics, which allows for high flying fun, the type of action that wouldn’t be possible in a similar, more traditional movie. It takes its film noir-ish premise and escalates it to fit its video game-esque world, but it’s never violent or scary. It’s perfect for families.
That is if you can disregard the way alcohol is treated. In the film, it’s used as a joke, which is a dangerous thing considering its PG rating, Nickelodeon affiliation and target audience. But more offensive than that, however, is the obligatory, and once again useless, use of 3D. Very few people can make the format work (Martin Scorsese being the only recent example with Hugo) and Spielberg simply fails here. There’s no sense of space to make the 3D pop and, as is to be expected at this point, much of the movie can be watched even without the glasses, the effect not even utilized in many of its shots.
Still, in 3D or not, The Adventures of Tintin is worth seeing. As is often the case, the B story, this time involving a pickpocket and two bumbling cops, isn’t as interesting as the main adventure and most of the time spent with it is little more than mildly pleasant filler, but even that mildly pleasant side story manages to do more than many full length movies this year. Though not an amazing film and probably not worthy of any awards, The Adventures of Tintin is pretty darn fantastic all the same.
The Adventures of Tintin receives 4/5