Tintin is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th Century with publication dates ranging from 1929 to 1976. Since they were originally written in French, the comics were recommended to me to help me learn the language. I really didn't get into them as a kid so I wasn't excited when The Adventures of Tintin (2011) was announced. Now that I've seen it, I'm mad that I missed it in theaters!
After buying a model ship off a market stall, young journalist Tintin (Jamie Bell) is initially puzzled that the sinister Mr. Sakharine (Daniel Craig) should be so eager to buy it from him, even to the point of murder and kidnapping Tintin to join his gang as they sail to Morocco in on an old cargo ship. Sakharine has bribed the crew to revolt against the ship's captain, the drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Tintin, his pet dog Snowy, Haddock, and a couple of bumbling twin Interpol detectives (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) travel from Europe to the Sahara and Morocco in pursuit of a pickpocket, a model-ship collectors, and a long lost treasure.
Starting out, I didn't realize how many big names were in this movie. It's directed by Steven Spielberg, who is famous for countless cinema icons. It's produced by Peter Jackson, who is famous for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and others. The screenplay was written by Steven Moffat who is known for writing and directed smash hit BBC series Doctor Who and Sherlock. It stars Andy Serkis, who is best known for playing Gollum in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit; Daniel Craig, the current James Bond; And Simon Pegg and Nick Frost who appear in many British comedy movies together. There's even a musical score by John Williams who did the music for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, and Harry Potter. Could this cast and crew get any better!?
Speaking of Indiana Jones, The Adventures of Tintin resembles a kid-friendly Indiana Jones movie. There is a lot of action and a complex mystery to solve that begins with a couple of innocuous and seemingly unrelated events that all snowball into a large globetrotting adventure. What's really excellent is they give you enough hints to be able to solve the mystery along with Tintin. That means there are competent writers behind this script; everything is suitably well developed and the plot unfolds at a very agreeable pace.
The film is animated, and uses motion capture for the characters. The actors put on suits with sensors to capture the motion of the actors so the animated characters will move the same way. There have been a couple other movies which have done this, and some of them don't look so good; if the actors aren't physically expressive enough, the animated characters end up looking ridged and out of place in the animated world. That wasn't the case here. The movement of the characters was well captured and utilized, while also having some silly cartoony stunts that helped keep the animated movie looking like it was actually animated.
There is so much fine detail in The Adventures of Tintin! The detail in the characters is particularly astounding. Close-ups of the characters show some highly detailed skin; freckles, tiny blemishes, even finger prints. If not for slightly exaggerated features (like unusually large noses) to make the characters resemble the source illustrations, you'd swear they were real people.
One of the best scenes was a chase scene near the end. Our heroes and the villains are all after the same thing which stays more or less in the center of the screen as it is moved through and around buildings and cars. Everyone moves and jumps on and off screen trying to catch their target as the camera changes directions and angles in one long sweeping shot. It just boggles the mind how much work that one scene would have taken to pull off effectively. And it was beautifully done! That scene, and others, could easily have been motion sick-inducing but the pace is smooth and the action is well choreographed.
The Adventures of Tintin was really quite good. It was much more intelligent and ambitious than any other 3-D family film I've seen so far. It was filmed in 3-D, so I imagine the 3-D is exceptional. I ended up seeing it in 2-D on Netflix Instant Play. There's an outstanding cast and crew, some solid characters, some good laughs, excellent action, and some incredible animation. The only thing I could see as being a red flag to parents is Captain Haddock's constant drinking; it's depicted as being a funny thing that is only somewhat discouraged. I don't think it's a good enough reason not to watch it as a family, but drinking should probably be discussed afterwards. I recommend seeing The Adventures of Tintin. It's a solid enough movie that I think it's worth the price to own a copy of, probably a 3-D version if you own or have access to a 3-D television. There's a good reason this is Nickelodeon's highest grossing movie.
Check out the trailer to see the amazing animation:
Check out the trailer to see the amazing animation:
Do you have a favorite 3-D family movie? Which one is it and why did you like it so much? Comment below and tell me why!