Spielberg Double Bill Part 2 – The Adventures of Tintin

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones

Synopsis: Herge’s most famous creation is brought to animated life with the latest motion capture techniques.   In this adventure, the simple purchase of a model ship leads Tintin on a mystery for sunken treasure, an adventure which introduces him to long time friend Captain Haddock.   Based on the Tintin graphic novels “The Crab with the Golden Claws” and “The Secret of The Unicorn”.

Whereas War Horse was heavily related to Spielberg’s previous heavily dramatic films, Tintin is Spielberg in pure child-like wonder mode.   This is hardly surprising, given that the source material is loved by children to this day the world over.   Spielberg had done his research, and the film is lovingly crafted, with many elements specifically referencing  not only other comics in the series, but also  featuring Herge himself, with the creator making a cameo in the film, just as he often did in the comics he drew and the cartoon series from the 1990’s.

When in rollicking sense of adventure mode, this is a brilliant film, and while there are no specific Indiana Jones references made, the films share enough similarity in pacing and humour of these larger set-pieces to be considered close cousins of each other.   It is in these moments that the film works best.

However, while there is nothing actually wrong with the film, in the slower, more investigative scenes, the films seems to lack a little of something that I even now cannot put my finger on.   Perhaps it is that in these moments, Tintin scrutinises everything just the same as Indy did as well.   It is in this moment that a craggy face does justice to the inscrutable looks, whereas from Tintin there needs to remain some level of naivety in his approach to the problems.   Not so much in intelligence, as it is clear from the novels that he is brilliant at what he does.   However in the novels he also tends to think the best of everyone until it is proven to him that he cannot.   At times this can be annoying true, but I think it was also part of the charm of the character.

This is no reflection on Bell’s motion captured performance.   He plays his role just as well as veteran Serkis does, and they feed off of each other really well.   It is a fine believable performance, and he is an actor that continues to rise in my estimation.   Out of all the younger actors today, Spielberg and Jackson could not have chosen better.   It is hard to see how that something missing crept in, yet it has.    Serkis himself once again shows incredible range behind the motion capture, with his Scottish Brogue a far cry from Gollum or Caesar, and the performance itself is given with an irrepressible energy.   Craig clearly revels in getting to play the villain, clearly shedding his Bond persona and going for a sneering, conniving performance that is both threatening, and yet remains fun throughout.   Pegg and Frost are the perfect Thompson and Thomson, with their easy camaraderie vital to the performance.   My only complaint with them is that they were underutilised!

For me the other thing that was missing was the score that I associate with Tintin, that being the theme from the 1990’s cartoon.   Even John Williams, a composer that has me normally rushing out to buy every single one of his soundtracks, was unable to wipe that original frolicking tune from my mind, and I at times could hear it in my head whilst the large action sequences were playing.

Overall, The Adventures of Tintin was a great way to spend two hours, but as a Tintin fan who has recently gone back to watching the cartoon series, there were elements that I would have wished seen common to both.   Spielberg has made a very entertaining Spielberg film.   However, just as his Kubrick adaptation Artificial Intelligence would have benefitted from being a little more like Kubrick, his Tintin adaptation would have benefited from being a little more Herge.   It will be interesting to see in what direction Peter Jackson takes the inevitable sequel.

 3 stars out of 5


The Adventures of Tintin on IMDB

The Adventures of Tintin on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW6TkX1YOK8]

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