Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The Adventures of TinTin (2011) movie review
Overall verdict: 8/10
The Good: Sticks true to the look and feel of the original comic, exquisite 3D CGI, excellent acting, well played humor,
The Bad: deviates from the comics exact storyline, minimal character development, convenient plot twists, retains the flaws of the comic
Current Availability Status: In Cinemas 10 November 2011
Come on, admit it, if your first English comic was not Archie or Asterix, it most likely was TINTIN. The world spanning adventures of an intrepid young reporter as he takes meets unique people, unearths ancient secrets, brings corrupt businessmen to justice, travels to exotic lands and do what imaginative children can only dream about. Each book was a whole new genre including some that touched on horror and science fiction. Steven Spielberg's computer animated "The Adventures of TinTin" combines two books' storylines, and throws in some minor tweaks for coherence, but manages to stay true to the spirit of what made the original stories such a good read.
Purists would no doubt condemn the condensing of two stories, "The Secret of The Unicorn" and "The Crab With the Golden Claws", into a single movie. Why go through the trouble and change the story? Because, to be honest, adapting only a single story would not do justice to TinTin as a whole. The Secret Of the Unicorn is essentially a mystery tale like something out of Sherlock Holmes. No big action pieces, no worldwide adventure, no exotic locales. While the condensation of stories is jarring for those familiar with the originals, it is done in such a coherant manner that it seems like a single proper story.
Famous reporter TinTin stumbles upon a mysterious model of an ancient ship, The Unicorn, which lands him in the biggest case of his life involving a long lost pirate's loot, a clandestine plot to steal a royal treasure and an unresolved family feud. Along the way he meets Captain Haddock, a washed up ship captain with a drinking problem, who might hold the key to the mystery. If only he could stay sober long enough to remember.
Everyone is exactly how one remembers them either from the comic or the classic cartoons. The bumbling Thomson/Thompson twins, Captain Haddock's comical rage, TinTin's inquisitive nature, it is all there. Nostalgia is the order of the day as the film takes us back to a simpler time of childhood. The character chemistry, adrenaline charged chases and light hearted dialogue call to mind swashbuckling pulp novel adventures in the vein of Indiana Jones. Sadly, the flaws of the original comic are all there too. The film is so plot driven that little attention is given to character development. Like the comic, there may be one too many convenient turn of events.
Before you are turned away by the seemingly simplistic narrative, it will be the animation itself that would grab you back. Final Fantasy is yesterday's news compared to the animation in The Adventures of TinTin. Yes, they may have "cheated" by using motion capture, but the results are magnificent. Everything moves like how they do in real life; vehicles have a sense of mass, there is visible inertia in moving objects, and characters move like actual people. The stunning level of detail, right down to the pores on characters' skin and individual hair follicles, is coupled with designs very similar to the cartoony art of the comics.
Try thinking of Spielberg's "The Adventures Of TinTin" less of an adaptation of the comics but more of a homage to the entire franchise. The whole movie is littered with dozens of allusions and shout outs to other stories in the series. Fans would have a field day recognising all the Easter eggs and cameos. After a slow start, the show really picks up and never lets up; well written dialogue, excellent cast chemistry and timely humor providing endless entertainment. Whether you are a child endlessly pouring through TinTin comics in the library, or an "ex-child" who followed the cartoon on weekday evenings, The Adventures of TinTin is pure fun and a great way to see your favorite characters come alive.
Go For it: if you like adventure stories like Indiana Jones or have read/watched the classic Tintin comics/cartoons as a child
Avoid it: if even the slightest change from the original comic bothers you
Voice work: A
Replay Value: C