The Adventures of Tintin is an admirable project headed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. The animation is gorgeous and gone is the creepy factor that plagued other mo-cap flicks such as Mars Needs Moms. And yet, the story itself never quite gets off the ground between mind-numbing numerous action sequences and, worst of all, paper thin characters who, save for Braddock, are so boring that it’s hard to really care about their journey.
Genre(s): Animation, Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG – 106 min. – $44.99 | March 13, 2012
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Writer(s): Herge (comic); Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (screenplay)
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
Theatrical Release Date: December 21, 2011
Features: Featurettes, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.8 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
There’s no doubt that Steven Spielberg is a master filmmaker, even his weaker movies like Hook, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, hell, even the much maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had a certain charm or magic that make them standout from the dredge that continually are released.
Doing my research, The Adventures of Tintin is based on, and a combination of, three books by Belgian-born writer Hergé: “The Secret of the Unicorn”, “Red Rackham’s Treasure” and “Crab with the Golden Claws”. Now, up front I must admit that not only have I never read any of the “Tintin” books or even watch the cartoons, I barely even had a passing awareness of the character, so I went into the film with no expectations either way other than knowing it had two talented filmmakers behind the camera in Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Even so, when the 100-minutes – that felt more like 150-minutes – were up, it was a disappointing experience.
For those not in the know, the story centers around a young man simply named Tintin (JAMIE BELL) who has no background, no family and apparently no job and on a whim will go on any adventure with his trusty dog, Snowy. The latest, when the film begins, involves a nifty model ship which he’s able to buy for a song just before our film’s villain, Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (DANIEL CRAIG), is able to snatch it up. He offers Tintin money to buy it but Tintin refuses and instead takes it home to put it on display.
During an apartment chase between Snowy and a neighbor’s cat, the ship gets broken but something inside rolled out and is hidden underneath a stand. Good thing too because later on, while Tintin and Snowy are out, his place has been broken into and the ship has been stolen. Being the bright lad he is, Tintin knows exactly who might have taken it. He goes to confront Rackham at his fallacious and spooky mansion where he discovers the model ship which he believes is the same, but is not based on the fact the mass is now fixed. This got Tintin thinking, as he’s being kicked out, why Sakharine wanted his when he already has one himself… Back at the apartment, he discovers the hidden piece which was a parchment with a clue and knows that if his had one, the other does as well.
Oh, and by the way, there’s a comedic side story in which two bumbling police detectives, Thomson (NICK FROST) and Thompson (SIMON PEGG) are after a serial pick-pocket thief (TOBY JONES) who has been stealing men’s wallets all around town. This subplot comes into play when Tintin’s own wallet is stolen with the key clue inside (real bright, that one is) but luckily had already memorized it.
This takes us, finally, into the movie’s primary plot when Sakharine’s thugs, needing his clue, kidnap Tintin and take him aboard the S.S. Karaboudjan. With the help of Snowy, he manages to escape and runs into Captain Haddock (ANDY SERKIS), the ship’s captain who has been deposed by Sakharine. Haddock is an alcoholic and, as you can imagine, a drunk. He also has a central part in this plot as Tintin discovers Haddock’s ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, who was the captain of the model ship, the Unicorn.
The rest of the movie finds Tintin, Haddock and Snowy running from the villains, tracking down clues and try to uncover hidden treasures before Sakharine got to it first. Also in the middle we get flashbacks that reveal Haddock and Sakharine’s part in all of this.
The Adventures of Tintin isn’t a bad movie by any stretch because it’s admirable and impressive to see Steven Spielberg, who’s been one those filmmakers’ on the forefront of new technology probably dating back to the 1980s and, most notably, in the early ‘90s with Jurassic Park. So seeing him take on motion capture, teaming up with fellow tech-frontier Peter Jackson (who also served as Executive Producer), like it’s never been done before. On that front, this movie is a success and a hell lot better than what Disney and Simon Wells did with last year’s dud, Mars Needs Moms.
So the technological aspect isn’t the problem… it’s the story and characters. Having never read or even heard of the source material, I went into this movie with an open mind, hoping Spielberg’s charm and skills will translate to this kind of animation, but by the end, there was something missing: a soul.
One of the other issues concerning the story is it seems Spielberg, with writers Steve Moffat (“Doctor Who”), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), crammed three stories into 100-minutes and seemingly each and every action sequence. One after another, when one action scene ended, it seemed we got a couple minutes of superficial character moments (or the characters talking about where they are in the plot) to yet another action scene. Rinse and repeat. With each successive sequence, it seems to diminish in intensity.
The other problem I had, and I suppose this is more about the source material than the writing, but as the movie carried on, I had to ask why I even gave two s**t’s about any of these people. The drunken Braddock wasn’t very funny and was more annoying than charming, Sakharine as a villain was pretty lame (and apparently he was a minor character in the comic) and Tintin himself was so bland and void of any background, albeit the comic book didn’t give him a history and given the criticism by some fans, there would be an uproar if the screenwriter’s had created one.
As far as the performances are concerned, I’ll give some props as it can’t be an easy thing to perform wearing a fitted cap, a tight fitting suit, a bunch of dots on your face and act again a wire-framed world. It’s hard to say what kind of impact each had, albeit given Andy Serkis’ experience as Gollum and King Kong, he probably gives the best performance of the bunch, though it is helpful that Braddock is the only character with any kind of arc.
As I said, there’s much to admire about The Adventures of Tintin. The animation is incredible, although I still tend to favor classic or digital animation because you do get an almost video game vibe especially when we get to the 20th action sequence (or level). Also, despite the limitations of classic animation, there’s still the void of some kind of soul behind those eyes. On the other hand, as demonstrated in the behind-the-scenes featurettes, the amount of liberties a filmmaker can take advantage of such as camera angles, directing scenes in different styles, etc. So it’s a mixed bag with reasons for and against motion capture; it could develop the same way as CGI has over the years.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard case with a matted slip cover.
There are 11 Featurettes (1:36:20) which can be viewed individually or at once via a “Play All” option. The featurettes include: Toasting Tintin: Part 1 (1:24), The Journey to Tintin (8:54), The World of Tintin (10:46), The Who’s Who of Tintin (14:18), Tintin: Conceptual Design (8:38), Tintin: In the Volume (17:54), Snow: From Beginning to End (10:11), Animating Tintin (11:00), Tintin: The Score (7:01), Collecting Tintin (3:58) and Toasting Tintin: Part 2 (3:12).
The featurettes are nice and although you’ll never see a commentary, deleted scenes or outtakes, he at least has a decent collection of behind-the-scenes footage to get an idea on how The Adventures of Tintin was made. Along with BTS footage are interviews with members of the cast and crew such as Spielberg, producer/2nd unit director Peter Jackson, Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Jamie Bell, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, etc.
Also included is a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy download code which you can use for UltraViolet streaming or for iTunes on your computer.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Not surprising, but The Adventures of Tintin looks absolutely fantastic in 1080p high-definition. Colors are plentiful looking well balanced, never oversaturated and the detail levels throughout are gorgeous. Obviously, like most animated features, you’re not going to get the flaws that film might present but with animation, you tend to get some banding which is not present on the disc.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The Blu-ray offers up an incredible 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that takes full advantage of each and every action scene providing depth and the full home theater surround sound. The dialogue levels, coming mainly from the center channel, are also excellent with crisp and clear audio. The LFE channel also manages to kick during key moments and scenes.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, The Adventures of Tintin is an admirable project headed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. The animation is gorgeous and gone is the creepy factor that plagued other mo-cap flicks such as Mars Needs Moms. And yet, the story itself never quite gets off the ground between mind-numbing numerous action sequences and, worst of all, paper thin characters who, save for Braddock, are so boring that it’s hard to really care about their journey. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, it offers up excellent video and audio transfers and while there could’ve been more features even that are well done.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.