Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Opens locally Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 (check for showtimes)
Run Time: 1 hour 47 minutes, Rated PG
Starring (voices of): Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Cary Elwes
Directed by Steven Spielberg
The Adventures of Tintin is one of two Steven Spielberg movies being released this week (with War Horse opening Christmas Day), uncommon for sure by any director let alone a legendary one. The brilliant Spielberg is our generation’s most successful filmmaker, with an unmatched filmography of iconic films such as the Indiana Jones Saga, E.T., Jaws, Schindler’s List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Minority Report, and Jurassic Park, to name a few. With Tintin, he gives us his first animated film, and shoots a rare misfire. It is adventure for adventure’s sake, a hollow and insignificant journey that is fleshed out about as much as the 2-dimensional comic book character it is based on.
Tintin is a young carrot-topped reporter, resembling perhaps Conan O’Brien in his youth. He is one of the most well-known comic book characters in the world, despite not being too well known stateside. I was reminded of the book series Encyclopedia Brown, where a young kid sets out to solve mystery after puzzle after problem. In Tintin’s case, he is accompanied by his pet Snowy, a white fox terrier who seems to be just as brilliant at solving crimes.
In the film, we get the feeling that Tintin has had several adventures, with that serial feel to it as if it we are just peeking in on a mid-season episode. This particular adventure has Tintin & Snowy searching for a buried pirate treasure, as he teams up with the drunken sea-Captain Haddock as they try to find the treasure before the sinister bad guy, Sakharine, does.
The simplicity of the film ends up being its major flaw. It's family-friendly and innocent enough but not as clever as you would expect coming from Spielberg. A few action scenes are impressively imagined, but there’s nothing at stake and therefore nothing to care about. The character of Tintin is forgettable…he’s no Indiana Jones and is just a bland dude. Some depth or purpose would have done him and this film some good, but Spielberg is only interested in chases and mysteries that really don't lead us anywhere.
Another iconic filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, showed true passion and innovation when he recently dabbled in 3-D, in last month’s Hugo. In comparison, Spielberg instead comes across a bit out-dated. He clearly has a body of work that speaks for itself, but I sense that Tintin could have gone straight to video had Spielberg's name not been attached.
One amusing aspect of the film was the striking resemblance that the bad guy has to Spielberg himself, who must have relished at the thought of being portrayed as a villain. Even Captain Haddock appears shockingly like the film’s co-producer Peter Jackson, the director of the amazing Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
But The Adventures of Tintin is not Spielberg’s “precious.” It’s not funny or interesting enough to be considered by younger viewers, and it is too simple-minded and straight-forward to appeal to adults. It is not a god-awful film, but the few bright spots are lost at sea. The end result is a mediocre and forgetful film destined to rank as one of Spielberg’s worst.
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