When Steven Spielberg discovered a French film review of his very own Raiders of the Lost Ark, the critic compared his blockbuster masterpiece to The Advenutures of Tintin. Since then, he became an avid fan of the comic book series by Herge, who funnily enough thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice. Collaborating with longtime Tintin fan and producer Peter Jackson, we see three of Herge’s stories in the form of one glorious performance capture adventure.
Having bought a small model of the mysterious sunken ship Unicorn for two quid, Tintin’s (Jamie Bell) life as well as his dog Snowy’s are in jeopardy as someone else is trying to find the actual ship. During the way, Tintin encounters the drunken buffoon Haddock (Andy Serkis), whose ancestor happened to be the captain of the Unicorn.
Following the box office bomb Mars Needs Moms which caused Disney to shut down Robert Zemeckis’ company ImageMovers Digital, Avatar‘s Weta Digital are the real heroes of performance capture as they truly capture Herge’s artwork, including the artist’s distinctive character designs from Tintin’s pointy hair to Haddock’s big fat nose. With photo-realistic computer animation to expand the comics’ two-dimensional drawings, there’s a lot of room for swashbuckling action and this is when Spielberg comes in.
The aforementioned comparison of Indiana Jones to Tintin is clearly a no-brainer as there are set-pieces that although are huge and fun, they are similar to the adventures of good old Indy, but fortunately the film becomes his own. Collaborating with his usual cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, the atmosphere to a lot of sequences have a very film noir quality which works due to Tintin’s investigative actions. Those who loved the opening sequence of Catch Me If You Can will enjoy this film’s 1960’s-influenced opening which has a few clever nods to the comics.
In the role of the pointy-haired boy scout hero, Billy Elliot himself Jamie Bell captures the blandness of Tintin who was always an innocent figure and never really got his hands dirty. In other words, he was just a device to go through these adventures, but if there is any substance to come out of Tintin, it was his chemistry with the lovable Snowy. From hobbit, to ape, to ape again, Andy Serkis has all the big laughs as Captain Haddock whose actions are both slapstick and drunkenness.
With a lot of the humour one of cartoony slapstick, it’s a shame that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost aren’t as fun as expected in the roles of Thomson and Thompson, even with Edgar Wright co-writing the script. As well as the other screenwriters Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), the combination of three of Herge’s stories makes the plot both baggy and contrived, particularly the use of an opera singer as a secret weapon.
Whilst it’s not Raiders, it’s not Crystal Skull, as the Spielberg/Jackson collaboration successfully brings Tintin and co to a third-dimensional adventure that is a real treat for the whole family.
The Adventures of Tintin is in cinemas 26th October 2011.
DIRECTOR: STEVEN SPIELBERG
SCREENWRITERS: EDGAR WRIGHT, JOE CORNISH, STEVEN MOFFAT
STARRING: JAMIE BELL, ANDY SERKIS, DANIEL CRAIG, SIMON PEGG, NICK FROST
RUNTIME: 107 MINS
COUNTRY: UNITED STATES, NEW ZEALAND