The Adventures of Tintin Reviewed: Spoiling Those Childhood Memories

Stunning visuals, stand-out performances and a hit with the kids. So why did Tintin fail to impress this writer?
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Stunning visuals, stand-out performances and a hit with the kids. So why did Tintin fail to impress this writer?

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SPOILER ALERT: These words should have been written on the screen at the beginning of the film. What it actually spoilt, to a degree, was my childhood memory of reading Herge’s Adventures of Tintin. To be fair I was always more of an Asterix fan – even though they are of course not mutually exclusive - but both had the fun, humour and escapism I looked for as a child. And still do as an adult. Although there was escapism in this move, the fun and humour elements were lacking. Don’t get me wrong, Tintin looks incredible.

From the opening scene, you feel your jaw figuratively dropping. Of all the 3D films I’ve seen, this was by far one of the best uses of the medium. You very quickly accept that the characters are real – and that was in essence one of the problems. I remember watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit and had the same dilemma. The blending of animation and live-action was so seamless that you accepted the characters were real. It was then up to the script to let it down. And it did. The same with Tintin. Although it looks astonishing, and I can’t emphasise the look of it enough, it lacks any warmth, wit or real emotion. With lines of dialogue like “Close, but not cigar” and “The bad news is we’ve only got one bullet!” “What’s the good news?” “We’ve got one bullet!” it felt very script-by-numbers. Not only that but the convoluted plot included so mush exposition you found yourself wishing it were on SKY Plus so you could fast-forward.

Don’t get me wrong, Tintin looks incredible. From the opening scene, you feel your jaw figuratively dropping. Of all the 3D films I’ve seen, this was by far one of the best uses of the medium.

It’s a shame that as much time was spent on the script as it obviously had been on the visuals. Speaking, again, of the visuals, I have to say that even though the look was 3D, the performances, with the exception of Andy Serkis, felt very 1D. Jamie Bell’s gives little depth or range to his Tintin voice-over, making it feel that as though you are simply hearing the words being read. Daniel Craig plays a by-the-book villain, again lacking any real emotion. The Thompson Twins are a disappointment, especially when you consider they are being portrayed by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They are an odd hybrid of Mr Bean or Johnny English (which is basically the same character but with dialogue) and Steve Martin’s version of Inspector Clouseau. The opportunity for their light relief is missed and replaced with awkward unfunny clumsiness. For the most part they are used in a sub plot about a pickpocket which leads nowhere and feels laboured.

Andy Serkis however does excel in his portrayal of Captain Haddock. It’s just a shame that the dialogue he is given doesn’t take full advantage if his abilities.

One particular series of back-story scenes, which are meant to form the spine of the plot, doesn’t actually even involve any of our protagonists. Again save for the actual spectacle of the scenes, leaves us with little emotional interest. Unfortunately a theme which ran throughout.

I watched the film with my two children; my 12 year old daughter and my 10 year old son. As they do after every film, they give it marks out of ten. My son gave it 9 and my daughter gave it 7. So perhaps I am just jaded. Perhaps the film just hasn’t lived up to my childhood memories - or my childlike optimism of what this could have been. Maybe it’s just not aimed at me. What was interesting was that my daughter said: “Now that they’ve explained everything, I bet the next one will be better.” You know, if they add some humour, improve on plot and give some warmth to most of the performances, I bet she’s right.

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