Rousing adventure captures motion like no other
He waited 40 years to make an animated film, but Steven Spielberg created a doozie for his first. Based on Belgian writer/novelist Herge’s comic series, (popular overseas but little known here in the states except by those few familiar with the wonderful morning cartoon) Spielberg elevates the motion capture animation process to new heights.
Along with the wondrous visuals that include the most lifelike human CG characters to date, Spielberg, co-producer Peter Jackson and the Weta Digital crew have created a rollicking adventure that careens at a lightning speed from one death and gravity defying adventure to the next.
Tintin (voiced by Jaime Bell) is an inquisitive young reporter with a knack for solving mysteries, whose pluck is only outdone by his penchant for getting into and out of perilous situations.
In this first of what hopes to be many installations, our young protagonist is at the center of a scheme to find the whereabouts of a treasure trove that supposedly went down with the sinking, some generations before, of the pirate ship “The Unicorn.” Trying to get there first is the nefarious Ivan Sakharine (Daniel Craig) who kidnaps Tintin along with his faithful dog Snowy and aims to exploit an old family nemesis– the almost always inebriated Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis)–to unlock the code and find the bounty.
From the high seas to the Sahara desert and through the streets of a Moroccan port, the action sequences are elaborate and relentless. One sequence that lasts only about 10 minutes and involves two fiery, battling pirate ships might be one of the most exquisitely staged seaworthy skirmishes ever filmed– the kind a certain Disney franchise only dreams about. Another chase and escape scene goes uncut for over 3 minutes and contains enough thrills for several movies.
The film’s main flaws are its’ reliance on an exhausting pace and a lack of witty humor that might draw in an adult audience.
Spielberg honed his gift for crafting complex and groundbreaking action scenes with films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and continues to impress in his current work as exemplified by the breathtaking battle sequences in “War Horse.”
But with motion capture animation as a tool, Spielberg’s imagination can go unencumbered by the restrictions of live action. He has had the rights to the Tintin series since the early 80’s, but the technology is finally here to allow our finest filmmaker to create something both groundbreaking of craft and breakneck in action.
The 3D treatment is excellent but certainly not necessary to enjoy the non-stop fun.
Rated PG for action violence, some drunkeness and smoking.