My Flickchart Ranking: #380
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell • Andy Serkis • Daniel Craig • Simon Pegg • Nick Frost
Genres: Adventure • Adventure Comedy • Animation • Based-on-Comics • Comedy • Family-Oriented Adventure • Family-Oriented Comedy
I’m at a bit of a loss here. The Adventures of Tintin continues a trend that I don’t much like in the industry today: the use of 3D and Motion Capture to tell the story. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is with the technology and why it’s such a selling point. It’s not like the technology really transcends its status as a gimmick or does much in the way of assisting the storytelling process. But then this film comes along and makes me re-think the whole thing.
For those not in the loop, The Adventures of Tintin is a series of comic books created by Georges Rémi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The film is adapted primarily from the 11th title in the series, The Secret of the Unicorn, combining elements from The Crab with the Golden Claws and Red Rackham’s Treasure to flesh out the world. We’re introduced to the title character as he comes into possession of a model of the ship The Unicorn. Soon he’s accosted by Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), which sets him on an adventure to find the sunken Unicorn. He’s joined by Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and the Thompson brothers (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg).
As I mentioned earlier, this film utilizes the latest in motion capture and 3D technology. While in other films it’s an annoying addition, here it’s a boon. The characters in the film all retain the classic Hergé style, just fleshed out in an extra dimension. It feels like the characters walked straight out of the pages of the book. The only exception to this is Tintin himself, which the filmmakers opted to design in a more realistic fashion. I’m not a big fan of that choice, especially since “realism” in this film means “lifeless.”
Where the technology excels here is in the action. Every set piece in the film is edge-of-your-seat exciting and a treat to watch. There’s a scene in particular where Tintin and Sakharine chase each other through the city to grab the final piece of the puzzle. We follow the particular item as it changes hands, which it does often. Here the use of 3D is the strongest, enhancing the overall experience and never feeling too gimmicky. It would be interesting to see this same scene in 2D as I imagine it would be tough to tell the spots that utilize the third dimension.
And then there’s the voice acting, which is solid if perhaps a tad on the expected side. Andy Serkis does his usual routine and Jamie Bell is earnest as the title character. The surprise here comes from Daniel Craig, who gets completely lost in the role of Sakharine. Similarly, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do a stellar job on Thompson and Thompson, sounding just like I had imagined they would sound.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the writing and direction, which are top notch. Steven Moffatt, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish penned the film, giving it the humor that fans have come to expect. Spielberg is no slouch either, bringing out some good performances from everyone involved and directing some insanely coherent action scenes. This feels like the Spielberg from The Last Crusade.
Overall, the film is quite entertaining and worth seeing in 3D, something I don’t think I’ve been able to say since Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The film certainly has its flaws, but they’re overshadowed by the fun story and the competent use of the newer technology. Go see it when it comes out, even if the thought of motion capture animation doesn’t appeal to you. Might just change your mind.