I regularly enjoy myself when I'm watching a movie in the theater or on DVD, I wouldn't spend so much time doing it if I didn't. It is only on rare occasions though when I actually find myself truly amazed by what it is I'm watching. Steven Spielberg's 2011 animated featured, produced by Peter Jackson, The Adventures of Tintin gave me one of those "wow" experiences.
A motion capture animated feature, The Adventures of Tintin brings the classic Hergé comic series to brilliant, wonderful, wondrous light. It is not only visually stunning—although it certainly is that—it is a perfect Indiana Jones-esque serialized-style adventure. In the bonus features on the new Blu-ray, Spielberg talks about how when Raiders initially came out, some French critics compared it to Hergé's Tintin stories, although Spielberg was unaware of the character at the time. Watching the movie, and before hearing that moment in the bonus features, the similarities to the Indiana Jones movies immediately struck me and will to any fans of the now classic Harrison Ford films.
Tintin stars Jamie Bell as the famed young journalist, Tintin, and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock, a drunk sea captain who unknowingly may hold the key to a great mystery. The film opens with Tintin purchasing a model of a ship, the Unicorn, at a market and quickly realizing that there are several other interested, nefarious, parties who will stop at nothing to get the model. As it turns out, the ship is but one of three and may hold information about the location of a hidden treasure.
Yes, it is one of those movies with sunken ships and secret treasures and evil doers, but it is a great example of the genre. The big bad in the film is Sakharine, portrayed by Daniel Craig. And, just as with Serkis' Haddock, Craig's Sakharine is an over-the-top near-caricature of an individual. Okay, Haddock has some serious moments, but his buffoonery far outweighs the serious aspects of the character.
On the whole, the film is less interested in drawing complicated pictures of individuals than taking the viewer on a thrilling rollercoaster ride. Don't get me wrong, the characters are unquestionably interesting, but save for the occasional moments with Haddock, the film isn't interested in much of what's going on inside them.
What Tintin is concerned with is creating an exciting, inventive, visually stimulating movie, and there it succeeds in spades. Not only does the motion capture animation look absolutely gorgeous, but the action sequences are grandiose and sweeping. There is, throughout virtually the entire film, a palpable tension present, and while it ebbs and flows depending on the scene, it never really disappears.