"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, November 11, 2011

Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

To say that The Adventures of Tintin is a much anticipated movie for the fans of the comic books and Steven Spielberg is an understatement.  The comics are beloved around most of the world except America.  People might be slightly aware of who Tintin is but it doesn't go beyond that.  Therefore, America is one of the last destinations in the worldwide release schedule for the movie.

I, myself, read the comics and watched the TV show when I was a kid and was immediately drawn into the world of adventure and mystery in Tintin and his friends.  They include his faithful and loyal dog, Snowy, Captain Haddock whose Kryptonite is alcohol and the bumbling detective duo of Thompson and Thompson.  It really was a pleasure to see these characters onscreen from a comic book but some people are upset with Spielberg filming the movie in CG environment saying it's not faithful to the comic book.  What is the point then of making a movie adaptation if not to be a bit daring? This film uses both CGI (for example, Snowy) and motion capture using actors (for example, Jamie Bell as Tintin) to introduce us to world of Tintin.

I must say I was quite pleased with what I saw.  The film had echoes of Spielberg's previous Indiana Jones series with the swashbuckling adventures ahead and all but it also gives us a glimpse of what Spielberg is now open to with the technology that is available to him.  There are some shots that are unbelievably framed visually and artistically and there is one particular long chase sequence that wouldn't be possible in a live action world but is made so dramatic and thrilling in the CG world.  And to think this is only the first of the proposed trilogy.

The movies opens with a familiar looking title sequence.  It's very reminiscent of Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can with the characters in silhouette but here serves a segue from comic to big screen.  There's even a sly nod to the comic with an artist doing a caricature of what Tintin would like in comic form.  There is no real country named but it seems like the story takes place in Europe, perhaps even Belgium.  Tintin and his dog Snowy are at a market fair where Tintin spots a marvelous replica of ship, The Golden Unicorn.  He buys it and immediately after two separate people want to buy it off him and hint at the danger ahead for him.  Our young boy reporter's curiosity is aroused and he finds out the history behind the ship and the family of Francis Drake, the ship's captain.  For once, it was so refreshing to see a character in a movie actually go to a library to research.  This being set in a non-technological world, characters actually have to work hard to solve a mystery and not get instant updates and help all through their computer.

It turns out that there is a shady man, Sakharine (Daniel Craig), after a scroll hidden in the ship, which promises to lead to treasure that only a true Haddock would recognize.  As this is a origin story movie, we are shown how Tintin meets his friend, Captain Haddock. Tintin assists his new friend Haddock in trying to find the clues hidden in the ships to the treasure promised by Francis Drake.  This takes them across seas and deserts to find what has been hidden for so long.  As mentioned before, this is the first of the Tintin movies and the movie hints of more adventures to come and I couldn't be happier.  I couldn't remember the last time I was enthralled in a movie from start to finish this year. 

A big part of why this movie works is because of the three main characters in this film: Tintin, Haddock and Snowy.  Jamie Bell as Tintin and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock absolutely inhabit their roles.  The motion capture is so realistic and effortless, it puts ALL previous mo-cap movies to shame.  Yes, I'm talking to you, Polar Express and A Christmas Carol.  After awhile, I forgot that Tintin was animated character, it was like I was watching Tintin come to life.  And as for Snowy, I loved his little antics.  Absolutely wonderful animation for Snowy and it was great to see all the little tidbits of how attuned Snowy is to what his master and friend Tintin wants and needs.  I think it's about time that Andy Serkis won himself an Oscar because what he brings alive in certain characters is astounding.  Motion capture may start to be a force at award shows in the coming years. 

After all this gushing, I do have one major peeve in the movie.  For all the wonder characters in the film and there are no strong female characters in the film at all.  Thinking back, only two women in the film have speaking roles and it may even look as if our characters inhabit an all male world.  This oversight can be fixed in the films and I hope they do.  Despite this quibble, I heartily recommend this film as the must-see film for you and your family.

Directed by Steven Spielberg; Written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish; Comic series by Herge; Produced by Peter Jackson; Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski; Music by John Williams; Edited by Michael Kahn.

Additional Voice Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Cary Elwes, Gad Elmaleh, Mackenzie Crook



  1. My first ever Tintin book was The Secret of the Unicorn. Tintin Rocks. and Snowy is just the cutest.

  2. I re-read The Secret of the Unicorn before the movie came out. Those comics are still classic. This movie was so much fun! And I agree, Snowy is the cutest.


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