The Adventures of Tintin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
If Indiana Jones had smooth skin, a British accent, lifeless eyes and no sense of humour, he might come across something like the plucky reporter at the heart of The Adventures of Tintin.
Of course, Indiana Jones had none of those things which is what made him so great, and while Tintin undoubtedly has its moments of greatness, it is let down primarily by the weakness of its central character.
After its highly stylised opening credits roll, the Steven Spielberg-directed motion-capture animation starts off excruciatingly slow.
While we’re thrust immediately into the story, the first half an hour of the film feels like little more than a very good radio play, with some vaguely interesting images coincidentally happening at the same time. The story is good, the voices great, but the visuals are just okay, and not particularly exciting.
Then something happens – the story really kicks into gear, and Spielberg, having become familiar with the rules of the cinematic format, goes about systematically breaking them.
The result is an hour and a bit of awesome animated action. As Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Capt Haddock (Andy Serkis) race all over the world to beat the villainous Sakharine (Daniel Craig) to the treasure, the laws of physics, animation and storytelling are bent to breaking point.
Unfortunately, beyond these impressive visuals and genuine globetrotting thrills, Tintin remains a difficult film to truly enjoy.
It does feel like a cartoon version of Indiana Jones – and that’s true in terms of style and tone – but where they differ is that Indy is a captivating main character, whereas the baby-faced Tintin simply is not.
He has no interesting flaws or central character points, nor does he develop in any way throughout the story. Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings) is undeniably the master of motion-capture performance, but even he is underutilised, little more than a nonstop comic relief device – one that despite being entertaining, gets a bit tiring over the run of the film.
More effective are the comic hijinks of Shaun of the Dead duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who play bumbling twin inspectors Thomson and Thompson; their screen time is more tapered, keeping their humour fresher and funnier than Haddock’s.
As for Sakharine: he’s largely forgettable, and you probably wouldn’t recognise Craig’s uninspired voice work if you didn’t see his name in the credits.
Despite these shortcomings, Tintin remains an entertaining film. It is unlikely to go down in Spielberg’s list of all-time greatest works, but if nothing else, it is an interesting experiment in motion capture technology that provides enough thrills and spills to keep fans and newcomers to the franchise entertained.