Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.
First off, I think we all have been waiting for the day to come when Steven Spielberg directs more movies. Tintin and War Horse, released in the same month, have been the first movies he has directed since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, which got a less than stellar reception. Spielberg now has movies under his direction slated to release in the following two years, along with many films he is producing. It’s good to have him back in full swing.
The story is about a young Journalist named Tintin, who originally appeared in an English comic strip, created by Georges “Herge” Remi in 1929.
The movie starts fast. We are introduced to Tintin, played by Jamie Bell [Billy Elliot, Jumper] and his dog Snowy out in the market, where a pickpocket is making easy work of the casual customers. Tintin spies a rare model wooden ship, and decides to buy it. This is where the action and craziness starts. An American tries to buy it off of Tintin, who refuses, and tells him to get rid of the ship and stay away from it or else trouble will find him. Seconds later, another man offers to buy it for any price. This man is Sakharine, played by Daniel Craig [Casino Royal, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo], and he’s not very nice. He later steals the model from Tintin, and when he doesn’t find what he wants, he ransacks Tintin’s flat. When that doesn’t run out, he kidnaps Tintin. When Tintin manages to escape his cell, he finds himself on a boat captained by a drunk Captain Haddock, played by Andy Serkis [Lord of the Ring trilogy], who is a descendant of Sir Francis Haddock, the creator of the 3 Unicorns, or ship models. Two of them are known, and the third one needs to be found. So Tintin and Sakharine enter on a race against each other to find it.
If you couldn’t tell by that attempted summary, the story is pretty chaotic and a little hard to follow. A lot of things happen in a short amount of time and several important people are introduced all at once. Not only that, but the motives and goals of these characters are unclear. They all seem to be risking their lives and taking the lives of others to obtain a model ship, which isn’t explained in full until long into the movie. After that, however, the pacing and the action take a much better level and the movie flourishes.
It is hard to believe that this is Spielberg’s first animated movie. But with his past record of ushering in new film styles and perfecting others, it’s no surprise how well it is done here. I was unable to see this movie in 3D, but I have heard from most every source that the use of it was superb, just as Scorsese used it in ‘Hugo’. There are some really great things in this film that you wouldn’t see other directors do in an animated movie: really long continuous scenes and 3 dimensional camera takes that one would use in a real film.
The animation style is remarkable, and not very common these days. Trying to grasp the similarities between this animation and real life and other animation is enough to keep your mind busy for the entire length of the movie. John Williams also does well to bring his legendary musical styling to the animated screen for the first time.
The cast and crew as a while did a fine job, which is no surprise when you look at all the names attached to it. Producer Peter Jackson, screenplay writers Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright, and all of the actors listed previously. The movie is also sprinkled with the comedy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who voice police officers Thompson and Thomson.
3/4 – “Tintin”‘s story is chaotic and messy to start, but once it levels out, the movie is very exciting and entertaining. The visual style is gorgeous, and director Steven Spielberg does well to bring an old time comic strip to modern big screen.