Review of The Adventures of Tintin


Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin --

Rating: PG-13 (for intense action, violence, and adult references)
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Directed by: Stephen Spielberg
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

"The Adventures of Tintin" is a nonstop action and adventure thrill ride that audiences of all ages can enjoy. Directed by the master of all things fantastic and exciting, Stephen Spielberg ("War of the Worlds," "Jurassic Park"), the film combines several elements of old Hollywood to make a story that is an intriguing mixture of mystery, travel piece, treasure-hunt, comedy, cat-and-mouse chase, and action. What's genius about this blend of genres and devices is that Spielberg attempts to make it all kid-friendly and he succeeds.

This film tells the story of Tintin (Jamie Bell, "Man on a Ledge," "Jane Eyre"), a gutsy young journalist with a wholesome appeal, and his faithful dog, Snowy. The film begins as Tintin, desperate to be the reporter that gets the next big scoop, finds himself in trouble from the outset. He buys a model of an old ship at a local market. Soon after purchasing the ship, he finds himself pursued by the minions of the creepy Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Dream House"). Skharine has a model ship exactly like Tintin's, and he wants to own the pair. He is also in search of a third ship which would complete his collection. The model ships aren't worth anything by themselves, but they have pieces of a secret puzzle hidden within them, and this is what Sakharine wants. Tintin does a bit of digging, and he learns that the model ships symbolize the Unicorn, which was a seventeenth-century ship containing treasure that was attacked by pirates.

Although he does his best to escape the villain, Tintin is eventually captured by Sakharine's minions, and he's held hostage on a steamboat, where he aligns with the ship's captain, Haddock (Andy Serkis, "Wild Bill," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"). Haddock is perpetually drunk and decidedly strange, but Tintin knows that the secret to the model ships is locked inside Haddock's addled brain.

While searching for the secrets, which Tintin believes might possibly reveal a treasure; the two escape some sticky situations and end up in Bagghar, a fictional North African city where the third ship is located. Sakharine is close behind them, and his pursuit leads to a series of adrenaline-boosting action sequences. While they are downright impossible for real actors to accomplish, the stunts carried out in these sequences are breathtaking and undeniably thrilling to watch.

The age of the film's hero, Tintin is never given, but in both his appearance and behavior, he seems to be no more than sixteen. His youth doesn't prevent Tintin from getting into some interesting and dangerous situations, and it isn't difficult for audiences of all ages to be sucked into his adventure.

"The Adventures of Tintin" is the first 3D animated feature for Spielberg, and he proves he can direct these types of films with his usual genius. The film's storyline is adapted from a 1929 comic strip series that has been a hit in Europe for years. It is relatively new to American viewers, but it is not one of those film adaptations that take only the existing fan base into consideration. "The Adventures of Tintin" is accessible for viewers who've never heard of the hero before.

Although "The Adventures of Tintin" is rated for an older audience due to the action and references to Haddock's drinking, most will find it is suitable for family audiences. However, younger viewers will most likely miss the humorous undertones in many of the film's scenes, particularly those relating to Haddock's character.

One confusing element for all ages might be the subplot involving a pickpocket and the identical twin detectives that are tracking him down. There seems to be little point to the events involving these bumbling characters, but their curious inclusion is quickly forgotten because they add an atmosphere of comedy and fun exactly when it's needed, which is probably just what Spielberg intended.

The action is impossible, the excitement is never-ending, and the use of computer imagery allows the adventure to step outside the bounds of plausibility. However, the outlandish and impossible scenes pale in comparison to the scenes that remain within the boundaries of the real world. These scenes are what capture a sense of urgency and danger for the film's characters. But it's the opportunities for viewers to step outside the realm of believability and dive into sheer fantasy and adventure that makes "The Adventures of Tintin" worth seeing.