Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

I saw Tintin last night, and went in with mildly high expectations; what with Spielberg directing and the promise of Indiana Jones like adventure… Now that I’ve seen Tintin, I can safely say Indiana Jones this is not.

There is just some weird thing about Tintin that made me not like it. Or several weird things. It’s not so much in the animation style, but at the same time, the animation grew real tiring to me. There were times when the action was so outlandish and cartoonish that it warranted actually being a cartoon. Then there was maybe 75% of the rest of the movie when your wondering what advantage does animating this film have over just shooting live action? I would say last year’s A-Team movie had more over-the-top action than Tintin did, and that didn’t need to be animated. I do understand that the Tintin source material is a cartoon, but well, I guess I’m trying to say that the mocap animation didn’t really do it for me, just on principle. The animation itself was very well executed, but I didn’t see the overall point of it all.

The story had some problems of its own. This is no origin story. The film starts off with Tintin being a well established journalist. This is shown through a cool opening title sequence, and some closeups of some newspapers on the wall of Tintin’s office. Kind of a neat way to establish who this kid is without a word of dialogue, to anybody (like me) who has no knowledge of the source material, I suppose. But for all the gripes everyone is giving the new Spider-man movie for redoing the origin story, the way that Tintin starts really felt like I was walking in partway through the movie. But not in a good Indiana Jones kind of way. The opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Arc does a great job establishing Indiana Jones through a long sequence of bad ass, now iconic imagery and then leads into him as a professor. You learn all you really need to know about Indy’s backstory and personality in the first 30 minutes of the movie. In Tintin however, the character is just kind of introduced to us, and well, there he is. Some dorky inquisitive little dude who likes to solve mysteries, I guess. No real action scene to introduce the character, mainly just him walking around, doing normal things.

I didn’t care for the character of Tintin much. This movie treated his character in such a way that it almost insulted the intelligence of the audience. Now, I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a movie for really little kids (it didn’t come across that way), but the way that the plot plops along was pretty dumb. For one thing, everything just kind of happens by coincidence, or Tintin’s dog finds something strange for no reason, and it gets investigated and leads to the next major plot point. The entire film gets set in motion because Tintin buys a model ship from a street vendor on a whim, and the villain shows up a minute later on the same street and creates the random conflict that is, basically, the main conflict of the film. It was such a stupid, random way to begin the main plot, in my opinion.

For another, Tintin talks to himself. Or he talks to his dog, I’m not sure. For the first 45 minutes of the movie, Tintin is literally explaining everything he is thinking about, out-loud, to himself. It makes him come across as mentally deranged. That, or they assumed the audience wasn’t capable of understanding what was gong on, so they had to explain every little detail of the mystery at all times. Kind of crappy storytelling there, Spielberg. If this was supposed to be because it was a movie for children, I’d like to point out that several people get gunned down with machine guns in the film, and it also features a character that’s such an alcoholic that at one point he needs to drink rubbing alcohol just get get his fix.

And lastly, Tintin isn’t actually all that important to the story. He’s just kind of there for the ride. I mean he does a ton of things to move the plot along, but it didn’t ultimately feel like he was the heart of the story. Captain Haddock felt like he should have been the main focus in my opinion. I guess I just found Tintin’s character annoying.

There are some good things about the film, though. It does eventually get the spirit of adventure in it. But it takes a while. There are also some nice action scenes, but eventually they start to wear you down. The Morocco sequence, which was supposed to be the biggest action scene of the film, was actually kind of mind-numbing. Just things happening without any hesitation, real humor, or emotional investment. It fatigued me. But the villain felt pretty Spielbergy to me. He could have been an Indiana Jones-type villain. He had the perfect level of smarminess and prickish sophistication, while still being a big enough asshole to want to murder a some young kid he just met. The mystery itself isn’t bad, but the way that it unfolds seemed kind of half-assed to me.

Ultimately the film isn’t a complete failure. It struggled to hold my attention at times, but it may be different for a kid or someone who cares about the source material. It was only offered in 3D at the theater I went to, and while the 3D was decent, it was also nothing that I hadn’t seen before. My whole experience with Tintin… ehhhhh… But I did have a blue ICEE at the theater for the first time in years, and it was actually really good. That was a plus.

Adventures of Tintin – 5.5 out of 10

The blue ICEE I drank while watching it – 9 out of 10

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