The Adventures of Tintin

Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis
Review: 4 stars (of five)

The Adventures of Tintin is a ceaseless wonder of adventure that arguably lacks a true emotional core that would allow audiences to connect with the story and characters. Instead, Stephen Spielberg’s animated adaptation of the beloved European comic is a breathtaking series of events as the director’s restless camera, which literally does not stop moving, roller-coasters through the plot.

The action and the look of the movie are simply fantastic. Stephen Spielberg, given an action film and completely untethered from the laws of physics, delivers jaw-dropping results. Even the “uncanny valley” issue is as close to solved as it ever has been. The utter visual creepiness of the humans in, say, Beowulf or Polar Express is reduced almost to zero.

The problem is with the story. Tintin, young reporter with a surprisingly intelligent little dog, is the ostensible star of the film, but he has no stake in the story. Sure, he has to out of an escalating series of jams that started with an accidental occurrence, but he can walk away at almost any point. Yes, he wants to get the story behind the film’s mysteries, but how compelling is that? He has no significant desires and does not change, learn or grow in any way. Instead, then, our main character is a crazed and drunken ship’s captain who finds himself at the core of a mad search for treasure lost by a seafaring ancestor. And as character arcs go, his isn’t really well-rendered, either.

Despite this lack (and it may be due to the source material, which was full of wild international action, not deep introspection), the film has definite charm. In period and tone, it’s like Raiders of the Lost Ark on fast forward, cramming in all the action of that franchise in one film.

So be it, then—the film doesn’t connect as deeply as it could, denying it the classic status of, say, Finding Nemo. For me, that would also make it harder to watch the film repeatedly, as the action is actually somewhat exhausting, and without a deeper connection to the characters, that intensity would become harder to take on repeated viewings.

But it’s still a mind-blowing joy to watch, at least once.