The Adventures of Tintin – Film Review

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Great snakes, they made a Tintin film! Don’t panic though, these two men-children by the names Peter Jackson (Producer) and Stephen Spielberg (Director) manage to create an albeit flawed but massively enjoyable ride into the world of Tintin.

The Adventures of Tintin is adapted from the world famous iconic Tintin comics by the Belgian artist Hergé. The comics follow the plucky boy reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) his trusty dog Snowy and faithful companion Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) on their globetrotting adventures usually having to do with chasing a story or solving a mystery.

The film itself combines elements from three of the comics: “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure.” It is however not faithful to the comic’s storyline & has Tintin and Haddock meet for the first time and together they chase down the mystery of “The Unicorn,” a fabled ship with a mysterious cargo which was captained by Haddock’s ancestor.

Unfortunately this film is not story driven. It feels like a series of action set pieces sewn together by loose threads of plot. This exposes the underlying weakness of the film which is its lack of characterisation. No significant effort is made to develop Tintin as a character and at the beginning we are just thrust directly into the “unicorn mystery” element of the story. Indeed the only character that has a significant story arc is Captain Haddock. Tintin himself and the other supporting characters including the villain Sakharine (Daniel Craig) are flat and their motivations are not always clear.

Penned by Steven Moffat (Dr Who, Sherlock), Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz) & Joe Cornish (Attack The Block), the script also fails to create a sense of plot momentum to the story which is disjointed. It assumes too much, for instance that the audience would know the significance of Bianca Castafiore (strangely enough, the only female character in the film) on the storyline which someone not familiar with the comics would not.

Putting those issues aside, Tintin is still an incredibly enjoyable film to watch. The action sequences in the film are fantastic and have a brilliant visual flair. Spielberg in his first foray into animation and motion capture has truly outdone himself. From a pirate ship battle on the high seas, an airplane crash in the desert and an absolutely breathtaking motorcycle “single-take” chase, The action is terrific and high octane.

One of the reasons the action works so well is because of the films virtual camera. Unlike traditional hand-drawn animation where each frame is predetermined and then drawn, 3D animation creates a three dimensional world in which the action is happening and then the director chooses how to shoot it much like a live-action film. In 3D however you are not inhibited as to where you can put the camera with the only limitation being the director’s imagination. Spielberg seems to have taken this as a personal challenge and takes the camera anywhere and everywhere to brilliant effect.

To best enjoy this film you need to approach it as an action film and not as a story oriented mystery solving adventure. Fans of the comic and those not familiar with them should get their money’s worth with Tintin.

Rating: 8/10

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