Published Dec 21, 2011Much like the similarly lauded Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, Steven Spielberg has crafted a modern masterpiece throwback that champions the roots of cinema and the films of yesteryear, attempting to recapture the magic and wonder of celluloid that have long since become humdrum with film's ubiquity. But rather than exploring the nature of passions lost, mirroring a love of movies to the human condition, as Scorsese did, Spielberg's Adventures of Tintin focuses on capturing the tone and whimsical spirit of the adventure film without any undue discussion of the subject.
Moving ahead with rapid propulsion and borderline pornographic visual delight, this adaptation of the popular European comic of the same name by Hergé introduces the boy wonder sleuth, Tintin (Jamie Bell), in the midst of stumbling onto a new mystery. He and his perpetually hungry, but helpful, dog Snowy investigate the peculiarities surrounding a model ship purchased at a street festival after two bizarre men offer warnings and financial remuneration to take it off his hands.
It leads to a hidden scroll, which leads to other hidden scrolls, which lead to a ship voyage, a dangerous plane flight and a destructive motorcycle chase through a small Middle Eastern village with the alcoholic Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). And since the action is so rapid and constant, the specificities of what the scrolls say about a possible buried treasure are secondary to the playful PG violence and adventure.
While Spielberg tends towards naive sentiment in his films – something that almost ruins War Horse – his tendency to cut to the cutesy reaction shot and go for the goofy, mood-lightening laugh actually work in this context. Being an animated film for slightly older children and adults alike, the cheesy peripheral gags, such as Snowy stealing a sandwich from a rat or an elderly woman assaulting two police officers, play as fun and quirky rather than groan inducing and trite.
And even though this rollicking adventure, with its eerily realistic animation, is simple and superficial in nature, the sheer vibrancy and entertainment value make it an absolute must-see for anyone looking to have a fully realized cinematic experience. Let's hope that it finds some success and winds up as a holiday franchise for years to come. (Paramount)