The clues and masts of The Adventures of Tintin

Posted by CB Droege

This adaptation of the classic comic book hits all the right markers, as the overture of the film captures the spirit and sorry of the original comic perfectly.

The first few scenes were nearly shot for shot with the original book, with the exception of the visual devices which were used to introduce the animation style to the audience. 

The tone is a bit more childish than I expected, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Then again, it did have some very funny moments. I think I laughed out loud more than I ever did at the original books or at the 90s cartoon, but I also groaned more at the silly stuff.

Perhaps it was because the physical comedy was not left entirely to Thompson and Thomson, who are supposed to be the primary source for slapstick. Here, they were hardly used at all, and instead, some of that comedy was worked into other scenes.

That wasn’t the only change to the stories that was made in the conversion. A lot of the clues leading Tintin around the world were different, or came about differently, but still were given little exposition. I felt like if I hadn’t already known the story, there were major parts of the film that I would not have understood - but partly this is always the curse of an audience which is only partly familiar with the source material. 

It would likely have been boring to have gone too much into things for those who already know what’s going on, but dabbling too little leaves those who never saw the original rather lost. Frankly, it’s a difficult balance to strike, and I don’t think the film fails at striking it, but I think I probably enjoyed the movie more thoroughly being already familiar with the story.

Since the film was released in Europe well before its US release, there have already been quite a few reviews bouncing around, so you’ve likely seen the comments that the film was too fast, and the characters remained under-developed in pursuit of the action. While this is true to a certain extent, it is a by-product of the adaptation. It’s a faithful adaptation to many extents, including the lack of sub-plots. It feels fast because the protagonists are moving from one action to the next, doggedly pursuing their goals. This is how the books feel as well, though it’s a more natural flow for comics.

The main thing that makes the film feel mis-paced is the definite lack of a romantic sub-plot. Film-goers are used to finding breaks in the action for romantic development in their action films, but this film lacks such a development, as Tintin forever remains resolutely single. The audience is waiting for kisses that never come, but I don’t think this is a failing on the part of this film.

The motion capture in the film is outstanding. Jamie Bell plays well the put-upon protagonist. Though they appear only briefly, Simon Peg and Nick Frost are spot on for Thompson and Thomson, and the other major characters were just as well depicted. They also look outstanding. I could really picture all of the funny-faced characters from Herge’s original comics, with their crazy noses and stocky bodies. I don’t think the film would have worked at all if it had been live-action performances. The semi-real figures, standing just on the other side of the uncanny valley really make the characters work.

In addition, the CGI scenery is beautiful, and crumbles nicely when needed, leading to action that could never be made real with even a AAA Hollywood budget - leading to what might be the best chase-scene in recent cinema history.

Overall, it’s a fun but not too deep action flick which utilizes modern CGI to good extent. It’s got plenty of action for action fans, but not so much violence that it’s not good for kids. It’s a true all-audiences story, and the 3D is native to the production - so it won’t give you a headache - if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Adventures of Tintin is in theaters now.