For those of you who may have found this through google or some other way and are not a regular follower of this site, I can assure you that while you will find many, many reviews of ”The Adventures of Tintin” on the internet, you will find very few written by somebody who has been an avid Tintin fan for years to the extent that he has been following every last piece of information available about the progress of this movie since it was first announced almost five years ago that Spielberg was going to pick up his old project and finally make a Tintin movie. Here you will find two such reviews. One is Chris’ review, the guy who started this blog and wrote everything until his schedule got busy and allowed me to write posts. Shortly after the movie premiered over in Europe he wrote a great review for both the Tintin fan and the man who’s never heard of him until now alike. I recommend you check it out here
The other such review of course is mine. I’m probably the biggest American Tintin fan you’ll ever meet. For those of you clueless people out there, Tintin is a very well known comic the Belgian George Remi (pen name Herge) drew from the late 1920s to the 70s. Tintin is a reporter that always finds himself on incredible adventures with his faithful white fox terrier, Snowy. He’s never been popular in the USA, but just about every other country in the world has heard of him. If you think that’s an exaggeration, check out how well Tintin did in the box offices over seas. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this movie much more than I’ve ever looked forward to see any other movie in my life. Did it live up to my expectations? In a world where movie tickets are expensive, is it worth your cash? What if you’re not a Tintin fan? Will you enjoy it?
I hate spoilers as much as you do so need not worry about reading any here. First of all, if you are new to Tintin you will not be lost. The movie does a terrific job of introducing the movie’s main characters. If you are a fan, you will recognise all of them as the characters you know, not as some horribly distorted version of them Hollywood threw together. Everybody making this movie went to great lengths to make sure that the original stories and artwork were respected as much as possible. The movie actually combines two Tintin albums, ”The crab with the golden claws” and ”The Secret of the Unicorn (there’s also a little bit of ”Red Rackhams treasure” in there, but not much), but you’d never know they weren’t one fluent storyline if you’ve never read the books because they are so magnificently blended together. As a matter of fact, while there are certain things that surely only a Tintin fan will appreciate when they watch the film, there are some things only somebody who is not at all familiar with the storyline will experience fully. I had very few problems while I was watching the movie, but one of them was really my own fault: I know the story of ”The Secret of the Unicorn” like the back of my hand. As a result I already knew almost everything that Tintin discovers little by little throughout the film. At some points I thought that the mystery side of the movie had been a bit overdramatized and that Tintin was taking just a little too long to put all the pieces together (quite literally), but again, the answer to the mystery is obvious once you already know the secret. But even when I knew what was coming, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. There are lots of hilarious lines in the film, many straight from the books but most just clever new lines the excellent writers came up with. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that actors only did the voices in this film: every movement from their bodies and faces has captured by computer, and the animators then did an excellent job of putting ”digital makeup” on. Jamie Bell did a very good job as Tintin. Some people have complained in other reviews that the movie is so action packed there is little time for Tintin’s character to be really developed. But the truth is that we know very little about Tintin, and Jamie Bell did a great job at not answering those questions for us. We don’t know who his boss is or who his parents are. We don’t really care. What we do know is that once he sets his mind to do something, he heroicly keeps going against all odds no matter where in the world danger takes him. And the movie does a wonderful job at taking us on the adventure with him.Pretty much every frame of the movie is a piece of art…You could get a sense of what I’m talking about by checking out some of the movie stills or watching the trailers, but you really won’t understand just how great it looks until you see it in the movies. Especially the city of Brussels and the port in Morocco are bright,colorful and incredibly detailed. As far as the people go, they look wonderful to me. They still look like the cartoon characters from the comics, but when you see each individual hair on their heads and the sand and the sweat on their faces as they trod through the desert, you have to remind yourself it isn’t real and congrutalute Weta for their great job. The movie is in a number of formats, but I recommend you go see it in IMAX 3D like I did (if you can find one that doesn’t have all of it’s showtimes filled up with ”Mission Impossible 4”). Chris didn’t particularly like the 3D, but I’ve always been a big fan of IMAX 3D and really enjoyed certain sections when it looked like the dust Tintin’s flashlight was hitting or the woodchips that were exploding or even Captain Haddock’s nose were really in front of my face. Aside from a few moments when the camera pans so quickly a few things seem out of focus, this is a movie that the 3D really works well in, especially on the enormous screen. However I’d say that if you see it in 2D you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing too much because the 3D is more of a fun added bonus to the movie experience.
This is a movie you can take your kids to (they’ll LOVE Snowy), but it’s not just a movie for kids. I fear that many people will go to action packed Mission Impossible 4 and miss one of the best movies that came out this year. What really made the movie for me was Andy Serkis’ brilliant performance as Captain Haddock. Haddock is absolutely hilarious. When you’re not laughing at what he’s doing, you’re laughing at his lines, and when you’re not laughing at his lines you’re probably laughing at his face. He has a Scottish accent in the film (most of us didn’t see him that way in the books) but I fell in love with this version of Haddock immediately as Serkis brought it to life before my eyes. There were times when shots Haddock and a flashback of Sir Francis alternate with a fluency that could only really be acchieved using motion capture.The Thompsons also have a great part in the film, and the only thing I regret about their parts is that I wish they had appeared more in the movie! ”Tintin 2”, which has been officially confirmed, is said to give them a larger role. Daniel Craig did an awesome job as the villain Sakharine, and it’s funny to recognise James Bond playing a villain’s part. He is not the most evil of villains, but he certainly beats (in my mind anyway) the ”Bird Brothers” that were the somewhat pathetic villains in the original stories. I disliked to some degree how Allan, who was a main villain in ”The crab with the golden claws” became more of a wimpy sidekick to Sakharine, but it did work well in the story.
For Tintin Fans (the only spoilers here will be spoilers to non-Tintin fans)
If you are a Tintin fan worried that they’ve taken the stories and thrown in too many pointless action scenes, don’t worry about it. There were really very few sections that I didn’t instantly recognise from one of the books,even when the trailers sometimes make it seem like there are more, and they were anything but annoying. Actually I was very pleased that finally Tintin was doing something new because much of the fun for me in watching the movie was seeing what fun new things the writers could come up with for Tintin to do without insulting the fans. As I said before, the storyline was very familiar to me, and it was good to see some changes to it to make the movie more exciting. The scene in Bagghar with a brilliant cameo appearance of Castafiore and the chaos that follows is actually one of my favorite parts. If Herge could see it today, I think he’d laugh. And the other new scene at the end,a final clash between Haddock and the villain,is a great way to finish their side of the story. Never once do the new scenes seem to make the characters do something against their personality, and if they slow down the story at all it’s only so you can take a moment to enjoy yourself and laugh at what’s going on.
Tintin DOES use a gun (just like he does in the books) but as far as I could tell he never once killed anybody and hardly if ever wounds somebody. He shoots at motors or ropes to get what he wants or protect himself.
Any Tintin fan would be a fool not to go see this in theaters while they still can! Herge’s artwork is apparent from the first 3 seconds of the movie, and both the style and music of the intro feels like you’re watching the beginning of ”Catch me if you can” with about 14 million tributes to the different Tintin albums thrown in. It’s fun to watch moments throughout the movie that have elements thrown in from different books. There are more easter eggs in this movie that any I’ve ever seen, and if you have a good Tintin fan that can go with you to watch the movie you’ll enjoy yourself that much more, because you’ll both be the only people in the theater that know why you’re laughing at what’s on the screen. I won’t say what it is, but there’s a magnificent tribute to ”Explorers on the moon” that I really enjoyed. I can’t wait to own this movie on blu-ray and watch it with all the pizza and popcorn I couldn’t afford when I watched it in IMAX, this time with the remote control to pause the image and read newspaper clippings, compare character’s faces with the albums or look for more references.
You really have to see this movie. Europe loved it for good reasons. If you don’t know who Tintin is, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you DO know who Tintin is, you would make a grave error to not watch this because you are worried about ”what they’ve done to Tintin”. Don’t worry about it, trust me. No matter who you are, this is a must see. It’s the biggest installment in Tintin’s history since Alpha-Art was published.
If I could make a suggestion for the next film it would only be that the next story not revolve as much around a mystery and more around whether or not Tintin will be able to complete his clearly defined objective at all (i.e save Calculus from the Bordurians…hint hint…) I love that heroic side of Tintin that will do anything to save a friend, and I hope to see that developed more in the next film.
Go out America, and enjoy the film. Spielberg, Jackson, Weta, and the whole massive team in the credits, I applaud your hard work. The wait was worth it.