The Adventures of Tintin (3D)

The Adventures of Tintin PosterRating: ★★★★½

Very few movies in recent years have launched a journey more vast and monumental than the one in “The Adventures of Tintin”. It makes its way through Europe, Morocco, and long stretches of sea and sand. It investigates a lost treasure, revisits a forgotten memory, and revives an ancient rivalry. It features several shootouts, a couple of swordfights, and a fierce battle where two towering cranes are used as battering rams. There are car chases, dueling ships, aerial assaults and fist fights. The story involves the participation of a journalist, a sailor, a dog, a hawk, a pair of twin police officers, a pack of pirates, and a pesky pickpocket.

Everything mentioned above was compressed within the movie’s 107-minute running time, yet none a single scene feels incoherent. The events that occur and the characters that emerge all seem to be devoted to the progression of the film’s plot. The leaders of its production, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, are recognized for their competence when it comes to handling projects that are set in the largest of scales. And in “Tintin”, they demonstrate a form of disciplined filmmaking that’s light-years ahead of the man-child minds of Brett Ratner and Michael Bay.

Tintin and SnowyThe story starts out in a busy street market somewhere in Europe. Tintin (Jaime Bell), always accompanied by his trusty dog Snowy, notices a ship model with historical significance. It’s a small-scale replica of a legendary sunken ship called The Unicorn. For a low price, he purchases the ship, unaware of the secrets it possesses. But not for long. When the wealthy and wily Sakharine (Daniel Craig) shows uncanny interest in the model, Tintin activates his investigative skills as a journalist. His research tells him that the rich bastard is after a bountiful treasure no ATM machine can ever contain.

A two-way race is set in motion. Tintin is outnumbered by Sakharine and his men, but he knows that his snoopy attribute and resourceful instincts can get him far. Tintin is one of those kids who prefer to work alone, so it was an inconvenience for him at first when he had to work with the loud and unstable Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). His breath stinks of alcohol; his personality marinated in whisky. We later learn that his brain may contain information vital to the mission, but that too, is drowning in liquor, and is unable to retrieve any memories at the moment. There is a humorous but relevant sequence where Haddock is stranded in the desert, devastated by the thought of having to face sobriety as a result of dehydration.

Tintin and Captain Haddock“The Adventures of Tintin” is a carefully balanced film is the sense that it incorporates the seriousness of a mystery thriller without losing the essential playfulness of animated movies. Its plot-driven approach makes the movie qualified for live-action entertainment, but certain components, like the complexity of Snowy’s movements and stunts, proved that animation was the more practical format. According to IMDb, Spielberg originally wanted to pursue a live-action version until Jackson convinced him to do a motion capture animation instead.

It was only after I saw “The Adventures of Tintin” when I found out that this was the method of animation used. My admiration for the movie multiplied as I watched several “Behind-the-Scenes” videos that showed how all the “Adventures” was shot within the four walls of a studio. Peculiar, isn’t it, how veteran filmmakers are trying new things, and succeeding at it? Steven Spielberg does his first animated film, and sets a new standard for motion capture as a result. Martin Scorsese, with balls of stainless steel, dives into dim 3-D territory, and earns global praise for it. Maybe it won’t be long ‘til Quentin Tarantino receives an award for rescuing the rotting genre that is the romantic-comedy.

Note: The 3-D was an unnecessary addition to an already excellent form of animation. If a 2-D version is available, go for that.


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The Adventures of Tintin (3D)