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The Adventures of Tintin always in motion 

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THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN

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DIRECTED BY Steven Spielberg

STARS Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis

Finally, here's one seven-year itch that can be scratched.

When 2004's The Polar Express made film history as the first animated movie to be created wholly by employing the motion-capture process, we instantly recognized that we were in the presence of something ghastly. Awkward and unsightly, the ersatz innovation rendered all characters stiff, clammy and lifeless — anything but animated. Even as recent as two years ago, with the release of the Jim Carrey vehicle A Christmas Carol, it was clear that the format had not yet hit its stride, and it wasn't unreasonable to speculate as to whether it ever would. But thanks to director Steven Spielberg, producer Peter Jackson and their crack team of technicians and artists, The Adventures of Tintin emerges as the first motion-capture movie to fully fulfill the promise of this hyped advent in animation.

Based on the internationally beloved comic series created by Belgian writer-illustrator Hergé (I myself enjoyed them as a lad, even though French writer René Goscinny's Asterix was my main Euro-fix), this finds squeaky-clean boy reporter Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell), accompanied by his clever canine companion Snowy, acquiring a model ship that in turn is being sought by the villainous Sakharine (Daniel Craig). Tintin's curiosity eventually lands him on a real seafaring vessel that belongs to the drunken Captain Haddock (motion-capture superstar Andy Serkis, of Gollum and ape fame), and together, they set out to distant lands to locate hidden treasure.

While the motion-capture process still isn't as pleasing to the eye as either old-school Disney or new-school Pixar, its employment in The Adventures of Tintin still qualifies as leaps and bounds ahead of its use in the unwieldy antecedents in this field. What's more, with the overseer of the Indiana Jones franchise at the controls, this cartoon cliffhanger manages to consistently serve up the breathless thrills. Even the 3-D, hardly ever worth the effort (or higher admission price), works for the greater good of the picture, at one with Spielberg's kinetic and imaginatively designed set-pieces. Adults looking for a family film among the new holiday outings — specifically, adults who don't want to be tortured by singing chipmunks (wouldn't that be all of them?) — have found their flick.

Go here for a look at the 10 Best & 10 Worst Films of 2011.

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