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Review: The Adventures of Tintin

09/01/2012

I should state from the outset that I have been a fan on Tintin for many, many years. Decades, really. Ever since I first spotted one of the books at my local library. Tintin (along with Asterix) was my comic of choice when I was growing up, and one that has always held a special place in my heart.

It is understandable then that I was rather excited to hear that someone was making Tintin movie. Sure, it isn’t the first to be made – there where three live action attempts back in the 60’s that received mixed reviews, the animated movie Lake of the Sharks, and an animated series from the early 90’s. What got me so excited this time around was who was behind the film. Steven Spielberg as director, Peter Jackson as producer, and Weta handling the CG. Could it get any better?

One of the things that had bugged me about the previous live action attempts was they all seemed to end up with Snowy, Tintin’s faithful dog, being a little too realistic – mostly because they used a real dog. Sure, there were limitations at the time. They couldn’t just add a CG dog in later, and using a puppet or animatronic dog would have just looked wrong. I also believed that having characters on the screen who actually looked like the ones in the books would help the movie enormously.

I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed.

Sure, they had taken some liberties with the original story, borrowing heavily from Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure, and Crab with the Golden Claws, but the result was well worth it. What we end up with is, effectively an origin story for the adventures of Tintin and Captian Haddock. Early in the film there are references to some of Tintin’s earlier adventures, but only three or four of them. Spielberg and Jackson (would that be Spielson or Jackberg?) have left themselves plenty of stories to base future movies on, and there will be future movies. Spielberg confirmed last month that there will be a sequel. Jackson will be directing, but not until he finishes work on The Hobbit.

Each character’s appearance is faithful to how they look in the books, to the point where you can recognise them on sight. The only one that seemed a little iffy to me was Bianca Castafiore. He face was a little too smooth, and it looked like she was wearing some sort of mask. Fortunately, she only makes a brief appearance in the film. My favourite character was undoubtedly Snowy. Sure, it’s easy to make a dog look like it does in a cartoon, but it was more than that. There was a vitality to him that you don’t normally see in animated depictions of real animals. There was more expression in his performance than Keanu Reeves’ entire filmography.

Thomson (Simon Pegg) and Thompson (Nick Frost) were also a hoot. Or was that Thompson and Thomson...

I must admit that I was a little disappointed that they mashed the stories together in the manner they did. Not so much that they cannibalised much of the plot of Crab with the Golden Claws, but more that they left out so much of Red Rackham’s Treasure. I can understand their reasons for doing so. You wouldn’t want to introduce a main character two-thirds of the way through the movie. The story would have also been far too drawn out. Sadly, we’re not likely to see it on-screen, but that’s ok. I like the implication that Tintin has a lot of these adventures and we only see the particularly epic ones. Also, it may encourage children to pick up the books and give them a read.

Overall, I think Tintin is the closest we’ll come to a perfect kids action movie. The violence is kept to a minimum, the heroes have to use their wits and skill to overcome the bad guys, and there’s still plenty of action and laughs to entertain the adults accompanying the kids. Sure, there was a lot of concern about the often racist depictions of other cultures in the comics, but I don’t think that will be a problem with the movies. The process used to export the characters from page to screen helps smooth out a lot of the more egregious features.

Finally, the big question: do you need to see the movie in 3D? The honest answer is no. Sparing and subtle use of 3D throughout the film, with very few ‘rushing at the camera’ moments means you are not overwhelmed by the technology. If you don’t mind paying a little extra for the experience then go for it, but you’re not going to miss anything if you don’t.

MyJanWriMo Update
This post’s word count: 800
Total word count: 2911

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