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Review – The Adventures Of Tintin

With the voices of Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Cary Elwes. Written by Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Rated PG (for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking). 107 minutes.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN may set American/European relations back further than anything since the Bush administration. Tintin is the star of a beloved series of comic books created by the Belgian artist Hergé, who died in 1983. Never more than a cult figure in the United States, it’s odd that director Steven Spielberg should choose this for his debut as an animation director. American viewers with no background on Tintin will likely wonder what the fuss is all about.

Tintin (voice of Jamie Bell) is a young reporter who goes on globetrotting adventures with his dog Snowy. For some reason the animators have made him look like the actor Neil Patrick Harris, who has nothing to do with the film. In this adventure (based on several Tintin comics), he purchases a model boat which gains the attention of Sakharine (Daniel Craig), who needs to acquire it by any means necessary.

Tintin gets caught up in the mystery and discovers that the boat contains information regarding a lost treasure belonging to Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), an old and perpetually drunk sea captain. Tintin learns the secret of the boat and vows to help Haddock prevent Sakharine from stealing the family fortune. You can already guess where the story has to end up.

Unfortunately, viewers have to sit through endless action set pieces to get there, all of them full of sound and fury yet signifying nothing. Here’s a motorcycle chase after a piece of paper. Here’s an attack on a ship. Here are two cranes on a dock crashing into each other. This is the off-the-rails Spielberg of “1941” and “Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom,” planning action scenes that will undoubtedly wow 8-year-old boys as Spielberg panders to his inner child, but will leave many feeling like they’ve been hit over the head. Spielberg gets away with his worst excesses because he’s one of the most financially successful filmmakers of all time, but now working in animation, he can go even further because none of it is real.

One is hard-pressed to develop an appreciation for the original source from the movie with its “motion capture” movements and its characters all of whom – save Tintin – seem to sport huge noses. The movie gives off the simultaneous messages of “this is real” and “this is a cartoon,” undercutting itself the way a regular cartoon or live action film does not. While the choreography of a few of the action scenes may impress on a technical level, the fact remains that there’s little reason to care about these characters and whether they succeed or fail.

“The Adventures Of Tintin” will entertain boys craving chases and crashes, and adults who found “Fast Five” to be too subtle and nuanced. In other words, once school vacation is over, this movie will be heading quickly to home video.***

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 2 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.


About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

6 responses »

  1. what an abismal movie review!, Daniel ? The fact that Hergé died in 1983 has nothing to do with this movie. More relevant dates would be 1929-1976 which is when World-renowned Tintin comics flourished. By the way, many of Hergé’s characters have Big noses – making them small would detract from the source. Captain Haddock without a big nose and without many generous shots of Wiskey- would NOT be Captain Haddock. Your reference to Indiana Jones, is also coincidence and irrelevant as all the high-speed action found in this movie is completely based on Hergé’s original comics that preceded Indy by decades. Tintin looks like TINTIN, and your reference to Neil Patrick Harris is again completely irrelevant and pointless. This movie is masterfully able to incorporate elements from over a dozen Tintin albums and its scenes are absolutely filled with cameos, and interesting details, all of which you have obviously failed to recognize or understand as you admit to ignore the set pieces significances. If you took the time to actually read the two dozen TinTin albums, then you would not require any spoon-fed character build-up wasted time explaining who is who and what is what, and you would actually care about their fate. Last thing, It is also obvious that you have zero understanding of French, as Tintin could only truly be appreceated in its original language – which is probably the movie’s only setback as “Milou” or “Mille millions de mille milliards de mille sabords, tonnere de Brest!” doesn’t exactly translate well.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Any argument for a film that consists of insisting that one needs to study the source material in order to fully appreciate the movie is as much as admitting that the film fails. A film has to stand on its own and it is absurd to expect reviewers — or moviegoers — to do homework before going to see a movie. I know the original comics are highly regarded and presumably they will continue to be so. That doesn’t save the film.

  2. I will admit that my view is biased, as I have read all the books many times over since my youth so it’s impossible for me to sence the movie from the perspective of not being familiar with the source. An extra 30 minutes could have been added upfront to set some of the stage for thoses uninterested in reading. In any case, the movie, as is, is far from a failure as vast majority of critics agree that it’s a great movie (certified fresh). This is not a movie that will soon be found on DVD. The movie was first realeased on October 22, 2011 and still going strong. It’s already grossed over $266 million worldwide so its a clear smash hit at the box office.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Actually, while the film is burning up the box office in Europe it’s dying on the vine in the US where it placed fifth opening weekend (it just opened Stateside last week) and ranked fifth, BEHIND “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.” It’s looking like a flop in the US and a success abroad. As for “certified fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes, yes it does have a respectable 75% (compared to, say, “The Muppet Movie” which got 97% positive reviews), but that’s a far cry from unanimous raves. I’m glad you enjoyed the movie. People who disagree with you, however, are not wrong.

  3. Seems like it may be indicative of the US’s youth – more interested in being spoonfed by talking chipmunks or muppet movies, than enjoying more complex adventure.

  4. Cheap shopt, in your review against a former US President was unnecessary. While I didn’t think it was great, it seemed At Times, like a serviceable movie


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