The Adventures of Tintin – Great Snakes!
So, I have to confess…that I’ve never read The Adventures of Tintin. It somehow completely passed me by during my childhood, and I never knew anything more about it than that there is a guy named Tintin, he has a dog named Snowy, and there is a sea captain? And that was fine by me, because there are so many amazing stories out there to read that, try as I might, I can’t get to all of them. And so because I have none of the requisite nostalgia that drove others to see it, this newest Tintin incarnation (in 3D!) almost passed me by. However some friends whose opinions I trust just would not shut up about how great it is. And I hate to miss out on something great just because I’m ignorant of it, and so today I went to judge it for myself.
The Adventures of Tintin is so awesome, you guys!
Hm, no wait, let me sound more professional. *Ahem*
The Adventures of Tintin is a glorious piece of story-telling and visual effects eye-candy that will no doubt be known as a benchmark for future movie-makers in the years to come. I cannot imagine the hours/days/weeks etc of painstaking and constant attention to detail that was required to achieve some of the best effects I’ve seen in an animated film yet. Every item, every bit of scenery, was exquisitely crafted. And amazingly enough they managed to find their way out of the uncanny valley and actually present us with such humanistic features that you could actually empathize with the characters and not be horrified by them (*cough*Polar Express*cough*). It wasn’t even enough for them to create the world in such vivid form, they had to go and be clever about it too and throw in shots that would be daring and inventive in any old live-action film. There is a moment where Snowy is holding a magnifying glass in his mouth and we see Tintin’s features through it, shrunk down and distorted in a comical fashion. It’s a cute scene, but think about that for a moment, think about how much extra work that must have created for the animators. And yet it is pulled off seamlessly without the appearance of any creative boasting.
Let’s not forget the story though. It’s easy to be dazzled by all of the visual deliciousness, but Tintin is meant to be a mystery-adventure, enjoyable by the young and old. I was in a small theatre and the children there definitely liked it. And I happened to be seeing it with my father, and (mid-film) he turned to me and gave me a huge thumbs up for suggesting it. It is fast-paced without being overwhemingly so*, and the twists and turns in the plot are both complicated enough to keep you interested, while hinted at properly such that you can guess along with the characters. And of course there is the action-adventure component, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are fires, explosions, sea-battles, airplane rides, sword fights, and a long chase scene that puts Mission Impossible to shame. The only thing I found jarring in all of it is the use of gun by characters (including Tintin himself). I understand that it is true to the material, but you just don’t expect to see the protagonist of a “children’s movie” pull a gun.
Oh, and speaking of the guns, I must add a side-note. My father is ex-military and takes the props in films very. seriously. A movie will be ruined for him if they use a plane built in the ’40s in a film set in the ’20s (happens more than you’d think). So it’s no surprise that the first thing he commented on when we left the theatre was the weapons and aircraft in the film – however it was all praise! He was practically gushing over how the Walther PPK was exactly like the one he has held himself. It is just one more aspect of this beautifully composed film to which I can tip my hat.
It really should not have been a surprise that it’s such a solid film, when just reading the production credits was making me freak out with girlish glee. An unbelievable dream-team was assembled to bring to life one of the world’s most beloved characters, and this is a team that I trust. Let’s go down the list, shall we? Written by Steven Moffat (Dr. Who, Sherlock), and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim)! Directed by Spielberg Himself, with requisite score by John f-ing Williams! Starring no less than Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Andy Serkis and Jamie Bell. My beloved Cary Elwes even showed up for a brief time. Oh, and the pièce de résistance: Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson was a producer.
Honestly, I couldn’t have disliked it if I’d tried. And while sometimes I quite enjoy my cinematic cynicism, there are times when we have to throw some habits out the window and just enjoy what’s in front of us. And I enjoyed the “great snakes!” out of Tintin.
*My main complaint about Steven Moffat has been that he sometimes has a sort of kitchen-sink attitude toward storytelling. This hasn’t been so much of an issue with Sherlock, but it was ruined some potentially wonderful Dr. Who for me. He gets so caught up in all of the possibilities of a story that he can’t help himself but throw them all in. It is overwhelming and can take you out of a story completely. However I saw none of that in this film, even during its most frenetic scenes. I must imagine that both Edgar Wright and Spielberg had hands in that, and am glad that Moffat can be tempered. Tintin could easily have flown over the heads of the audience (particularly its youngest members) but instead it was high-energy and accessible. Job well done chaps.