Friday, December 23, 2011


The movies of Steven Spielberg in the last 13 years or so have very much been like the Tin Man from Oz; nice and shiny with no heart. In his film adaptation of THE ADVENTURES OF TITIN, Spielberg ventures into the world of motion-capture animation in collaboration with Peter Jackson, and backed by his old pal John Williams the stage seemed set for a fine return to the heartfelt glory the Bearded One was once known for.

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is an adventure-seeking reporter, who with his dog Snowy, comes across a model of the famed ship Unicorn; a famous ship in history which sank with a treasure. Tintin discovers that the model is one of three which contain clues to the treasure’s whereabouts. Tintin and Snowy are hunted by the diabolical Sakharine (Daniel Craig), and eventually run into Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis); who is the ancestor of the Unicorn’s captain on the night of her sinking.

So TINTN’s plot is not much more than a race-to-the-treasure tale. With a high-concept, mo-cap animation world, it was necessary to keep the main storyline simple for grounding. For the most part it works, although the many reveals are a bit clunky; one clue leads to another which leads to another, and in-between that are fantastic action sequences full of energy and wows. The action comes at you full-steam ahead, and only slows down to reveal another clue.

The hunt for the treasure and the big chase are just enough to keep TINTIN afloat, for in this adventure the characters are unfortunately left behind. Tintin the character is never explored; we never discover why he is the way he is or what his fascination is with adventure. With such a paper-thin main character, it’s difficult to really get caught up in the story. Younger audiences are likely to forgive this and see right past it, and it’s possible that older audiences will forgive it also…the film is just too damn fun to get grumpy over things like character development.

Spielberg is like a kid at Christmastime with his new technology. The worlds are rendered with astonishing detail; so lifelike they might as well just have shot it for real. As good as the world looks, it’s Spielberg’s talent to know what to do with it that makes TINTIN soar. His camera pulls off impossible real-world moves; ducking around corners, following our characters through city streets, and placing us dead-center into the action. The set-pieces are perfect for his imagination; pirate ships, cargo ships, deserts, airplanes, spooky houses and city streets are like a playground to him. John Williams gets to play too; providing a very fitting (albeit somewhat stock-sounding) whimsical score.

Motion Capture seems to have come a long way from the dead-eye look that the technology suffered through in its early days. The characters look great right down to the hairs on their arms. The astounding detail that went into the creation of the environments also goes into the characters; the faces of Haddock and Sakharine look just like Peter Jackson and Spielberg, respectively.

The voice talents are perfect throughout, with Daniel Craig and Andy Serkis stealing most of the show; what a treat it would be to see what those two actors looked like when they were recording their lines. Jamie Bell also does well with his lines, and smaller roles held by chums Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are also perfectly cast and played.

TINTIN is very much a delight to look at and live through; it is great fun and never bores. Tintin the character unfortunately gets lost in the TINTIN adventure, and that keeps any sort of heart coming out. TINTIN is another Tin Man for Spielberg, but unlike his others in the last 13 years, is worth seeing.


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