Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig
Release Date: Out Now
The Adventures of Tintin has been in the making for almost three years now, and marks the first time that director Steven Spielberg has used 3D performance capture technology. Co-written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the film seamlessly combines three of Hergé’s original comics into one story.
The screenplay doesn’t adhere to the original work religiously, which may upset hardcore fans, but Tintin (Jamie Bell) appears as the same crime-fighting journalist with the perfect quiff that he always was, complete down to his indiscernible age and complete lack of personality. His canine sidekick, Snowy, brings more fun and energy to any scene than Tintin himself, who is pretty lifeless, and almost as flat his comic book counterpart.
This may not be so much the fault of Bell’s acting as a disadvantage of using performance capture technology, which, it has been said, causes some degree of emotional detachment for viewers. The characters are not fake enough to be automatically classified as animated by the viewer, nor are they real enough to fully believe in – they have something of a soulless look about them. It’s not just Bell who suffers as a result of this lack of depth, as it is also particularly obvious in the portrayal of Thompson and Thomson, two clumsy, incompetent detectives, played by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Frost and Pegg are known for their comic collaborations, however most of that chemistry is quickly lost in the uncanny valley.
One person who still manages to shine is performance capture veteran Andy Serkis, who plays Captain Haddock, a drunken seaman who becomes Tintin’s sidekick in all the action and is easily the film’s most memorable character. Providing some comic relief next to Tintin’s straight-and-narrow approach, his presence can only be welcomed.
While not inherently bad, the plot gets a little lost in all the action, causing the film to lag somewhat in the middle. It is, however, visually stunning. Much as the motion capture has caused difficulties for the actors, the sets are beautiful and intricate – the level of detail found is almost exceptional. From the animated opening sequence, which bears a striking resemblance to the opening of Spielberg’s own Catch Me If You Can, to a motorcycle chase through a Moroccan souk, the effects are incredible. The film is no masterpiece, but it is buoyant and energetic, and sure to be a box-office hit.
In a Nutshell: Both made possible and limited by it’s medium, Tintin is imperfect but enjoyable classical Hollywood fare.