Adventure seeking reporter Tintin finds a clue to an ancient treasure and with his companion Captain Haddock and his loyal dog Snowy, they set off on a search for the sunken ship that carried the lost fortune. Meanwhile the malevolent Red Rackham is determined to find the treasure and will stop at nothing to beat Tintin to it.
The Adventures of Tintin are a series of comic books written and drawn by Belgian artist Georges Remi, though the books were published under the author name Herge. The series first appeared in newspaper form in the very late 1920’s and has since been released in collected editions and sold in a number of countries around the world.
Directed by Steven Speilberg and produced by Peter Jackson, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ has two of the most influential creative forces of the mainstream film industry attached. Filmed using motion capture from live action performances and translating that to digital models the project has garnered much interest from a technical perspective as well as for the works that it is translating to film.
For the first film in the potential franchise the story is based on three of the original story arcs from the books including ‘The Crab with the Golden Claws’, ‘The Secret of the Unicorn’ and ‘Red Rackham’s Treasure’ with a screenplay from Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffat.
On a technical level, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is a marvel to watch, the level of detail in the animation is breathtaking, from the smallest detail on the characters to the wide landscape shots during the film, this production has achieved a new level for this style of animation and it is exciting to think of the possible applications for the technology in the future. Peter Jackson previously stated;
We’re making them look photorealistic; the fibers of their clothing, the pores of their skin and each individual hair. They look exactly like real people – but real Herge people.
and while it’s not quite as he describes, it is extremely close. Previous films animated in a similar style have suffered from the issue of ‘dead eyes’ within the characters, where there appears to be a lack of focus in the eyes of the character who might appear to be staring blankly in one direction rather than focusing on an object. ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ doesn’t resolve it completely, however it’s very close and overall this film is a visual joy to watch.
Unfortunately where the film does disappoint in the visuals like so many other films is in the 3D aspect. Once again like countless other films before it the 3D effect is under utilised and at times a distraction from the charm of the look of the film. The extra price is simply not warranted here.
Within Tintin audiences will find a fun adventure film with a lot of charm, the opening act wastes no time setting up the premise for what will be the adventure for the remainder of the film, with events quickly unfolding. As things progress however the pacing of the film is somewhat mixed as things tend to meander somewhat over a lengthy running time, consequently the film may have benefited from a slight tightening of the script.
Throughout the film we get the sense of Tintin as an investigative reporter, and we see a mystery unfolding however the film doesn’t tend to focus on Tintin’s detective prowess, instead preferring to keep things light hearted, deductions are quickly made with corresponding action sequences interweaved throughout the globe trotting quest. The action always takes place among interesting set pieces with the film full of great escapes and thrilling fist fights which face a difficult balancing act between articulating a sense of realism vs. the light adventure tone of the film.
The performances behind the central characters of Tintin and Captain Haddock bring the characters to life, and the cast are strong for the most part. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thompson and Thompson are goofy highlights but mostly a restrained version of their usual entertaining selves.
For those not familiar with the stories upon which this film is based, the ending is likely to come across somewhat abrupt and incomplete. No doubt there is an intention for the franchise to continue, so something to keep in mind as you may be left wondering while the credits roll what happened to the final portion of the film.
‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is both a technological achievement, and a fun light-hearted globe trotting adventure film. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars, it’s released in cinemas around Australia on boxing day 2011.