January 4, 2012
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) **1/2
Directed by Steven Spielberg
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)- Convoluted for sure. Adequate at best. Adequate at worst. **1/2 out of 5
Apparently, Tintin is a much beloved literary comic character dating back to the 1920's. His stories and illustrations were done by someone named Herge. Tintin has many fans which span many generations. To all of you excited to see a big screen version of this young reporter and his trusted pup Snowy, my hat is off to you. I am thrilled beyond words that your dreams have come true.
Because of my good-nature, I will hold myself above blaming all of you Tintin fans for the barrage of mediocrity for which I just experienced. Mr. Spielberg, on the other hand, won't get off so easy. The Adventures of Tintin, which I saw in 2D since I only have vision in one eye and can't see 3D films, employs a hybrid form of real life cinematography and animation. Sure, we're leaps and bounds beyond the ick of The Polar Express, but, sadly, we've finally delved into the uncanny valley where animation looks a lot like real life except maybe with a layer of wax or two on top.
The sense of fantasy and wonder which can be felt in films like Spirited Away or Finding Nemo ends up stifled because of the sheer fact that the world of the film feels pretty damn real. On the other hand, when there are action sequences which are meant to take audience member's breaths away in a film like Mission Impossible, they fail to excite in Tintin simply because it's a lot easier to blow things up in animation, and there's no sense that any living, organic being is in any danger whatsoever. The Adventures of Tintin simultaneously bludgeons both fantasy and hyper-reality, until all that's left is a painfully convoluted story about pieces of paper, replicas of ships and a drunk pirate.
To its credit, the story moves at a nice pace. The ending credits thankfully started rolling well before I began shifting in my seat. There are a handful (at most) of whimsical cinematographic trickery and Spielberg's direction certainly has its moments. Further, Andy Serkis is loads of fun as the non-teetotaler Haddock. Unfortunately, the film's title is misleading. The said adventure is convoluted beyond any effort I was willing to exert to piece together, and the character of Tintin himself is about as milquetoast a hero as I've seen in quite a while. His yawn inducing presence is not helped by an uninspired performance by Jamie Bell. I'm left to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to cast Bell, an actor known for his physicality in films like Billy Elliot and Nicholas Nickelby, to act in a role which relies solely on his voice.
All you proud Tintin geeks out there, enjoy seeing this film over and over again. In the meantime, I think I'm going to take a nap.