Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

Directed by Steven Spielberg.
2011. Rated PG, 107 minutes.

Daniel Mays
Gad Elmaleh

We kinda sorta meet Tintin (Bell) and his dog. He buys a model ship, and people immediately start trying to buy it from him. When he won’t sell, they try stealing it. Should he get killed in the process, the bad guys won’t think it such a big deal. That’s The Adventures of Tintin in a nutshell. Actually, that’s it, almost entirely. The only other thing you need to know is eventually he teams up with an alcoholic sea-captain whom the bad guys, one of whom looks suspiciously like the movie's director, want to keep around for some reason. Lots of swashbuckling ensues.

My main problem with Tintin is that’s all there is. We get no set up and are thrust into the adventure with no emotional attachment to anything on the screen. Director Steven Spielberg is certainly no stranger to telling his story through action. He did a masterful job of just that in Saving Private Ryan. The difference is through that action, including very real looking death all around the survivors, the weariness of those men and their determination through it all we form a bond with them that submerges us in the film. Here, especially since it’s aimed at children, that action doesn’t have nearly the same weight. It’s a blitzkrieg of dazzling sights and sounds. However, like a fireworks show, when the smoke clears there is nothing there.

This isn’t to say that Tintin is a bad movie. It is not. The animation is top notch and gives us some wonderful visuals throughout. Action is pretty much non-stop so you, most likely, won’t be bored. And if you like pratfalls and slapstick comedy, you’ll laugh a lot, too.

No one, myself included, is really qualified to tell Steven Spielberg how to make a movie. I just feel he went way too fast with this one. I would love to see Tintin, and even the villains, more firmly established before we really get into his adventure. Instead, it’s like a mashup of his own Indiana Jones flicks and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes without the heart of either. We can see many of the director’s normal touches, but it feels like a dumbed down version of his normal work like he’s pandering to an even younger crowd than his popcorn flicks usually shoot for. Ironically, his pal J.J. Abrams made the best Spielberg flick in the last couple years with Super 8. There is no question that Spielberg is a magician when it comes to filmmaking. However, this particular trick falls flat. It wants to wow us by constantly showing us our card. Unfortunately, we never get to actually pick one.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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