Great Snakes! The Adventures of Tintin Review

While I can respect that Nickelodeon’s been able to reach such fame coming from such small beginnings, I still think its early era of broadcast was its best, airing their new material alongside some classics: Heathcliffe, Dennis the Menace, Tiny Toon Adventures, and of course The Adventures of Tintin. Although my memories of the series are vague, I trusted that the series held up enough for me to pick up the first season release on DVD a while back. Long story short: not great, but not bad; the kind of entertainment I’d watch while multitasking on something else.

Still, while rather slow by today’s standards, The Adventures of Tintin still lies in the hearts of many old-schoolers worldwide as the epitome of the action hero. A mild mannered journalist that went on adventures and solved mysteries all for the sake of getting the scoop… and an adorable dog sidekick that was neither bipedal nor capable of speaking English. It was only a matter of time before Spielberg adapted it into something.

And thankfully, that something is quite well… something.

The Adventures of Tintin movie brings back an element of adventure to the adventure genre that’s been lacking as of late. Sure, there’ve been plenty of fantasy and sci-fi adventure for the masses, but for the longest time we’ve been without a good old fashioned non-super-powered non-fantastical adventure. The kind of adventure where all you need is a map, compass, and whatever names you wish to give your fists in a ballroom blitz.

The movie is an adaptation of series creator Hergé’s “Secret of the Unicorn” story arc, though takes elements from other arcs as well, sending Tintin globetrotting through deserts, palaces, alleyways; the works. Serving as the first of hopefully many other adaptations to come, the film does a good job of establishing the titular character as not only a journalist, but a journalist on a mission to capture whatever the hot new story is at any cost. This time around, however, it seems like trouble’s found him when what seems like a random purchase at a market ends up (literally) holding the key to Tintin’s latest adventure.

As Tintin begins his latest quest, his search leads him to a one Captain Haddock—certified drunkard and scene stealer. Without spoiling too much, the old lush is more than meets the eye, providing quite the backstory to better flesh out the movie’s villain from what I remember watching in the TV adaptation. He also serves as the perfect comic relief to Tintin, who can come off as a bit too much of the straight man at times. Together, the two form an odd pairing, but to say that something of a bromance forms between them would be overstating it. I can’t imagine the two characters spending down time together in any other circumstances, but their back and forths are enjoyable enough.

What really makes the movie, though, is the action. As mentioned, the film doesn’t rely on any fantastic elements like energy blasts or the like for their action scenes, and rather focuses on what each character can do with their bare hands. As such, audiences are exposed to fisticuffs, shootouts, and on more occasions than one, drunken bottle throwing. You’d think with all the raw fights in the movie, the series would have gotten harsher treatment, but leave it to the Nickelodeon brand to guarantee a PG rating or lower for their films. As long as it introduces a new generation to the kind of wanton destruction my dad would talk about when he watched Popeye as a kid, then I’m fine with it.

On a technical level, I’m sure most people were concerned about the choice of using motion capture for the film. The technique hasn’t exactly garnered that many fans with its uncanny looks, but rest assured that such a problem doesn’t exist in this film. Rather than making the people look as realistic as possible, the motion capturing techniques are used merely to capture the realism of textures such as clothes and skin while still sticking to the cartoony design from the original works, which don’t look as bad as you’d think. If motion capturing were done in this fashion more often (read: Gollum and King Kong over Beowulf and Polar Express) maybe more people would be open to its use in future animated works.

Sadly, the same can’t be said about the 3D aspect of the movie. Oddly enough, I found that in every theater in my area, only one 2D showing was available for each place, with each of those showings only being in the morning, essentially forcing me to watch the movie in 3D. As gorgeous as the film looks with its number of scene changes, the 3D effect doesn’t do much, and I’ll go as far as say that it kills the experience, since the only times I really noticed the effect were during scenes taking place in dingy areas where I was greeted to 3D dust and one particular scenes involving the antagonist pointing a cane to my face in the most blatantly 3D friendly way possible. If anything, I want my money back for this. 3D is still nothing but a hokey experiment that studios think they have to fall back on even though they’re perfectly capable of making movies that can stand well enough based on their script alone.

Short version: excellent movie and I hope they continue with the franchise, but wake up early for a 2D screening.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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