The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin

Starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking

    Based on the famous comic books by Herge′, this first of what are sure to be many adventures of the character Tintin finds the young detective Tintin on a dangerous quest to find the location of three secret scrolls, all of which are individually contained within the models of a ship called The Unicorn, that will eventually lead him to a great treasure.  Along with his brave dog Snowy and the inebriated Captain Haddock, the team competes with the sinister Mr. Sakharine in the race to find the scrolls and the mystery behind them. 

    If you are like me and very American, you will have probably never heard of Tintin.  One of the reasons Spielberg opened the movie in Europe almost two months before the U.S. premiere is because Tintin is a national treasure there.  While the movie is having a tough time coming out of the gate here, worldwide it has already grossed over a quarter billion dollars.  But just because the character is not an icon here as it is there, don’t be surprised if he starts to makes some inroads. 

    Americans love thrilling movies and this one is non-stop action and adventure.  The journey starts almost as soon as the film begins and doesn’t let up until the credits.  It’s like a 107 minute roller coaster that doesn’t make you sick. 

    The film has several other admirable qualities, chief among them is the animation.  Using motion capture, Spielberg has managed to create a breathtakingly beautiful world that you can’t take your eyes off of.  So far the films that have utilized this technology form animation (i.e. Mars Needs Moms, Beowulf, The Polar Express) have had what many consider to be a creepy look.  Tintin however has a brand new style that is mesmerizing.  It’s so captivating that I had to watch the film twice in order to fully understand the plot simply because the look was distracting from the story.  The story is fine, but the art takes over completely. 

    The one thing that American audiences will find most troubling is the lack of character development.  When you watch the Indiana Jones sequels you’ll notice a lack of character development simply because you are so familiar with the lead character, thanks to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it’s okay to jump right into the action.  Rather than go into a genesis story which would give you that same familiarity, Spielberg chose to jump right in under the assumption that most international audiences won’t need it.  I think he hoped that American audiences would be sophisticated enough to go without as well. Would I have liked a genesis story?  Absolutely, as will many of you.  I’m probably not going to go back and read the comics just to have a better appreciation of the history of Tintin.  This strategy in telling the tale might just hurt the chances of a humongous domestic box office, but I’m sure that is a risk they were willing to take, and so far it has paid off. 

    Also of note is that this should have been a PG-13 movie.  It doesn’t have any bad language or sex, but there is plenty of violence and drinking that will make parents of young children uncomfortable.  Also, I don’t think young children will have an appreciation of anything more than the colors as the story is complicated and might be a little too hard to follow for them.  B+