While motion capture in film is nowhere near as intolerable as when first introduced via Robert Zemeckis’ excruciating Polar Express, until 2022 it hasn’t looked great. This year, however, it may have even finally hit its stride. From the dusty plains of Rango to Andy Serkis’ hopeful Oscar-nominated turn as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it was only a matter of time before Zemeckis’ long time buddy, Steven Spielberg, unsurprisingly, one upped him. Along with producer Peter Jackson as his partner in crime, Hergé’s beloved Belgian character finally gets a sea worthy big budget adaptation in The Adventures of Tintin.
While already a huge moneymaker overseas (currently standing at a massive $239 million), this isn’t the first time Tintin and his faithful canine companion Snowy have made their way to the States. When it was announced that Spielberg and Jackson were uniting to bring a trilogy of sorts to the big screen, it was a moment of glee. Even if just because I knew they would set out to prove exactly what you can really do with full length motion capture animated films and 3-D features as well.
The story may seem a tad convoluted, but that’s not the point of The Adventures of Tintin. Spielberg has finally made the best Indiana Jones-like film since Indy rode off into the sunset in 1989. Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young reporter who’s just set his sights on a replica of the fabled Unicorn, a model ship. After it’s quickly snatched away by Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), Tintin finds himself kidnapped where he meets up with the whiskey swilling Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Together, the three (Snowy in tow), must travel the globe to discover the secret of the Unicorn including a lost treasure buried beneath the sea by Haddock’s pirating relative, Sir Francis Haddock (Serkis again), after the best Pirates of the Caribbean sea battle Disney never gave us.
The screenplay was originally drafted by Steven Moffat (Dr. Who, Sherlock, Coupling), with a rewrite by the brilliant Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). The three have written an amazing film that could easily have taken place within the Indiana Jones universe. If they wound up being our Three Wise Men for the rumored fifth venture, I’d be even more on board than I already am. As a Spielberg fanatic, I have to admit that I didn’t despise Crystal Skull. I know how much he loves his aliens and considering the timeline of the entry it fit in far better than people may want to admit.
But now Spielberg and Jackson have welcomed in a whole new kind of adventure. Where, thanks to the CG assistance of course, whole action sequences can be breathtakingly choreographed into a single take. And considering the writers, it should come as no surprise that there are references aplenty to The Beard’s previous work, along with the original Hergé comics as well. As I mentioned the motion capture here finally works – even if Jamie Bell may seem a bit too wide eyed and you’re dying for him to blink.
But nothing spoils the fun thanks to Spielberg reveling in his yesteryears and whisking us away on his most grand adventure in a long time. If it hadn’t been for the aforementioned Rango being a complete original, where this is based on previous material, it would be my frontrunner for best animated film of the year at the Academy Awards. As it stands however, The Adventures of Tintin still takes the case of being my favorite animated film of the year.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures