The Adventures of Tintin

Year: 2011
Studio: Paramount
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson
Writer: Edgar Wright/Joe Cornish/Steven Moffat/Hergé
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Cary Elwes, Toby Jones

A few weeks before seeing Tintin I wrote about how I wasn't the least bit interested it, that how every film Steven Spielberg used to make was like a dream that came straight out of your own movie fantasies. He seemed in tune with the audience like no other director but Tintin looked like just another holiday blockbuster.

And while I was pleasantly surprised by the result, it was still only as good as a lot of other films that have come out over the last few years. There was some big talk about how it was the Spielbeard's first animated film and the technique was indeed impressive – motion capturing actors faces and expressions on the fantastical body and face shapes straight out of the comic book was a fantastic technical achievement, but as soon as you stop marveling at the cinematic arts that went into the film (about a minute in, so immersive and complete are they here) you start asking for a story.

The one film of Spielberg's canon I thought it was most related to was actually Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tintin had the same meta-mid 20th century feel, the jetsetting from one exotic locale to another and the swashbuckling action Spielberg and Lucas bought back to cinema in the 70s and 80s.

Boy investigator and reporter Tintin (Bell) comes across a rare model ship in a marketplace, and he's no sooner taken possession of it than bad men are gunning for it at any cost. It's not until after his apartment is ransacked and several chase sequences have ensued that Tintin realises the ship contains a secret message.

He teams up with the drunken Captain Haddock (Serkis) – a character many lesser scripts would render irritating pretty quickly but who remains likeable and funny throughout – to track down the other parts of the message that exist in two identical model ships, all the while with the villain Rackham (Craig) trying to beat them there.

Spielberg and his team (probably with a lot of input from producer Peter Jackson, the other proud overseer of the passion project) have come up with some great sequences. The entirely digital landscape has let them play fast and loose with physics and imagine big, and while it's that sense of scope that puts Tintin above the shoulders of most CGI adventure films, it's still lesser Spielberg.

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