BY BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM
Author’s Note: This section is dedicated to calling attention to lesser-known animated movies and television. If somebody has a suggestion for me to review or discuss, please feel free to email me and I will see what I can do!
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Film legends Steven Spielberg (“Schindler’s List,” “Jurassic Park”) and Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong”) present the animation adventure, “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011). The film is based on Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s comics, which for five decades during the mid-20th century was an international icon. In fact, the study of “Tintin” in literary circles is known as “Tintinology.”
The animated film combines a few different “Tintin” albums, primarily focusing on “The Secret of the Unicorn” (1943). The story follows Belgian journalist Tintin and his fox terrier, Snowy, who get ensnared in a quest for the famous sunken ship, the Unicorn, and its lost treasure. Along the swash-buckling adventure, they meet Captain Haddock, the perpetually drunk descendent of the Unicorn’s original captain and make a dangerous enemy who is in pursuit of treasure…and revenge.
I can guarantee that the animation behind “Tintin” is unlike any you have ever seen before, and that in itself is more than worth the viewing. The movie) employed advanced motion-capture technology, so the characters’ movements were actually actors wearing tight-fitting black spandex that the computers could transform into animation. The result is animation that has a highly realistic—almost surrealist—interaction between people and objects, which some traditional animation enthusiasts find unsettling but I found it absolutely enthralling. Granted, there are some moments where the motion capture falters and some of the peoples’ movements don’t perfectly inhabit the environment, but the film took a giant risk, and overall, it pays off immensely.
Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot”) and Andy Serkis ( “Lord of the Rings”) lead a very talented cast with accents that actually match their geographic locations. The soundtrack, which was nominated for an Academy Award, sets the rhythm and mood excellently, and the cinematography is one of the most creative and fun pieces I’ve seen in animation. The movie borrows a lot from different elements—noir films, the spirit of “Indiana Jones” or “Treasure Planet,” and comedic exaggeration of its foundational medium—and incorporates them into its own unique story. (Quick tip: Snowy is quite amusing to watch in the background of the film.)
The weakest points of the movie are its plot and emotional appeal. Due to the Indiana Jones-like adventure, the storyline is fairly formulaic, has a lack of surprising twists and tends to feel like you’re watching a highly elaborate video game. Another one of those annoying minor-yet-major plots holes is that “Tintin” never really explains how the villain knew about the treasure to begin with. The film also doesn’t allow much in the way of emotional elevation, as it has a constant stream of excitement and intense action sequences.
But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the emotional dramas of “Up” or “The Land Before Time” and allow yourself to experience pure, raw adrenaline. “Tintin” is a fantastic movie for when your brain is tired and just needs something to simply enjoy. If you’re thirsting for more “Tintin,” Peter Jackson will be directing a sequel with a tentative release date of Dec. 2016.