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Created by the Belgian comic artist, Hergť, the character of Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy have amassed an enormous and devoted following across the globe.  European fans have devoured his adventures since 1929.  Counted amongst Tintinís admirers is legendary director Steven Spielberg, who takes the opportunity by way of cutting edge technology to bring his childhood hero to the big screen.

Tintin, an aspiring journalist, has a nose for both a scoop and for trouble.  When the young man buys a model ship at an outdoor market, he canít predict the secret hiding inside the toy; one that will lead him and his intrepid canine pal, Snowy, on a high-stakes, action-packed mystery.  The scroll tucked inside the model of the ship called the Unicorn is coveted by our filmís bad guy, Sakharine, who possesses one of the scrolls, but needs Tintinís and a third located in Morocco to lead him to hidden treasure.  Sakharine shanghais Tintin and Snowy and dumps them onboard a boat steered by a permanently intoxicated captain.  Forced to swill liquor by the evil Sakharine, Captain Haddock is too snozzled to remember the great ancestral line he hails from.  Itís that lineage that plays a part in the search for the scrolls as it is Haddockís ancestors who hid the treasure in the first place.  The captain and the cub reporter join forces to try to keep the scrolls out of Sakharineís hands and return the treasure to the Haddock family.

Noisy, repetitive and obnoxious, Tintin is sensory overload thatís somehow blindingly dull.  I walked into the cinema with very little clue as to who exactly Tintin was and left the movie exactly the same way.  Donít look for any character development here, folks, cos it ainít happening.  Spielberg expects his audience to already be as clued in as he about the ginger lad with the towering hair wall.  In Europe, the popularity of Tintin is such that his tales have been adapted into nearly every medium; comic books, radio shows, live action movies, even stage plays.  In the United States, however, Tintin was no Charlie Brown or Archie, not even a Beetle Bailey.  Appearing on these shores mostly as a feature in a Jack and Jill-type monthly childrenís story anthology that ceased publication in the mid-1970ís, for many Americans, Tintin is simply not a household name.  There needed to be some background: Why does this young fellow live alone with just a clever terrier for company?  Why does everyone in the streets know who he is?  Whatís with the hair wall?  As an uninitiated viewer, I felt like Iíd been dropped into the middle of a story long in progress.  Having missed the main characterís exposition left me with no reason to care about him as his personality isnít exactly the most charismatic.  When the film becomes more about the recovery of Captain HaddockĎs family name and treasure, I found myself bored, as well.  Haddockís continual screw-ups, moaning, and bleary, drunken escapades grew extremely thin very fast.  A lot of the Indiana Jones-style, swashbuckling action repeats itself rather unthrillingly, occurring in a vacuum of constant momentum so unimpeded by an involving narrative, that the onslaught of big explosions and heaps of destruction are strangely unaffecting.  Spielberg chose to make this film in the performance capture medium; animating over his actorís movements.  It seemed a lot of effort for a not great result.  Though nowhere as creepy as The Polar Express, this computer-generated animation (provided by producer Peter Jacksonís Weta Digital effects house) still has that similarly off-putting photo-realism with stiff, waxy-ish features and glassy eyes on its characters.  If he hadnít intended to make a full-on live-action feature, I have no idea why the director didnít simply opt for the original Hergť character designs; taking those charming, flat drawings into 3D.  For as rich-looking texturally as the animation is, there seemed to be no point to filming the movie in this way, and for all the expense, everything still looks terribly ordinary and forgettable.  In contrast to Hergťís signature, gloriously clean drawing style, things in this version seemed packed in, convoluted and overstuffed.

Aesthetic grievances aside, ultimately, no amount of CGI razzle-dazzle is going to substitute for a shallow script.  Creating such a callow, strident version of this beloved comic reduces it to being just another noisy cartoon thatís loud enough to keep the kiddies glued to their seats due to the barrage of onscreen overstimulation, but itís not doing a thing to help them cherish the characters.  With an introduction by Steven Spielberg, I looked forward to discovering what so much of the world adored about this comic book legend and his friends, but after watching The Adventures of Tintin, Iíll let the world keep him.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

December 21st, 2011

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  Paramount Pictures)

 

 

 

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