The Adventures of Tintin Review
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Steven Spielberg has definitely had a busy year. Not only did he produce the J. J. Abrams-directed summer release, Super 8 (while acting as executive producer on a handful of other big releases), but he also managed to direct not one but two holiday releases: War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, which follows the animated adventures of a beloved young sleuth.

The adventure begins when baby-faced young journalist Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) buys a model of an old ship called the Unicorn in the market. After he brings it home, a man is killed on Tintin’s doorstep and someone else breaks into his apartment—and Tintin begins to suspect that the ship may have an interesting story to tell.

With his faithful pup, Snowy, at his side, Tintin goes in search of answers regarding the ill-fated Unicorn. But just as he gets close, he’s kidnapped by the sinister Sakharine (Daniel Craig) and taken aboard a ship called the Karaboudjan. There, he meets the drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), descendant of Sir Francis Haddock—the captain of the Unicorn.

Together, Tintin and Haddock set out to foil Sakharine’s plan and solve the mystery of the Unicorn.

It seems that Spielberg has been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. While the ‘70s setting of Super 8 made it feel like classic Spielberg sci-fi and War Horse’s epic World War I story felt like a rather naïve ‘80s family drama, Tintin also travels back to a more innocent time for a classic adventure. The problem, however, is that, while both of Spielberg’s latest directorial efforts have a kind of classic beauty, both are also surprisingly shallow.

The Adventures of Tintin is definitely a gorgeous film. Though it’s Spielberg’s first attempt at animation, it’s a truly remarkable first attempt. From the wild seas to the shooting flames, the animation is so detailed and lifelike that you’ll be convinced that Spielberg must have poached a few of Pixar’s top animators. Unfortunately, though, the motion capture characters still look just a little bit off. They look a little too plastic—and that comes through in their personalities, too.

As a hero, Tintin is bland and unremarkable. In fact, he seems to fade into the background during much of the film. Captain Haddock has a much stronger personality, but he, too, is one-note. He’s a drunk, and that’s about all there is to him. Other characters, on the other hand, are simply annoying—like bumbling cops Thomson and Thompson (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg).

The story, meanwhile, is about as hazy as its characters. It’s so simple, in fact, that very little of interest happens in the film’s first half. There are kidnappings and escapes and a side story about a pickpocket—but none of it is as thrilling as it could have been. It isn’t until the second half of the film that the action and adventure finally begin to pick up—but, by then, it’s too late; the kids have already checked out, and the grown-ups are already surfing on their smartphones.

The Adventures of Tintin is certainly a sight to behold. The animation is absolutely stunning—and the second half of the film brings plenty of crowd-pleasing action. But the bland characters and sleepy first half make it a surprisingly flat and mostly forgettable family flick.

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