Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Adventures of TinTin review, a spectacle from two cinematic geniuses

I never read the TinTin comic strip.  I've always known who the character was, and what he looked like, but nothing else really.  So when I went to see this film, it was all new to me.  The movie is The Adventures of TinTin.  It is directed by one of the greatest story tellers in cinematic history, Steven Spielberg; and produced by another great, Peter Jackson.  It features the voice talents of Jaime Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig.  Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Visuals
Holy mother of wow.  The movie is absolutely gorgeous.  I watched it in 3D (the theater I went to did not have the 2D version).  It is among the best looking animated film I've ever seen.  The characters in the film look so real, some scenes had me asking myself, "how did they do that?".  This doesn't surprise me in the least.  Peter Jackson is a special effects genius and knows how to bring the goods.  Nicely done.

The Scope
This goes in conjunction with the visuals.  The settings in the movie are breath taking.  The detail, color and size of all the various locations, is something that requires a second viewing to fully appreciate.  The oceans, the Sahara desert, the dam; if you've seen the film, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Beautiful.

The Score
John Williams is the best in the game.  He's worked with Speilberg in the past, and they re-teamed for 'TinTin'.  The score is invigorating and matches the excitement on screen.  What I love about Williams' score the most: it doesn't take over the movie!  There are animated films, or action films in general, where the score takes over the scene.  Another thing, you can just tell when you hear a Williams score, please don't ask me to explain.

The Action
There is  a scene in the film that is easily one of the best in animation history.  It's actually been talked about a lot online.  It's a great example of the action in the film; it's the chase sequence through a crowded city on a motorcycle, in one continuous shot!  Granted it's animation and one continuous shot is not as impressive as live-action; but it still requires very detailed planning and execution.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Story
For such a big, spectacular film, the story is weak.  Yes, there are pirates and amazing settings, like I mentioned earlier.  But the villain, Rackham, who is voiced by Daniel Craig, is exposed early in the film.  Fine, that's not a big deal.  And obviously the movie is a treasure hunt, the trailer tells us so.  But Rackham's motivation is a family feud started generations earlier?  Seriously?  He's not really interested in the treasure?  It doesn't work at all.  And please don't worry, this is not a spoiler, it is revealed pretty early in the film.

At times, it felt like the action was for no reason.  I mentioned earlier I loved the action, but if it's not serving a purpose, or adding anything to the story, why?  There is a specific scene that really annoyed me.  I wont divulge too much, but look for the scene involving two cranes.  The definition of over-the-top and unnecessary.

Nothing at Risk
There's nothing really at risk in the film.  There's no diabolical scheme that will affect the world, or so much as a small city.  There's no weight to the characters at all.  The closest we get to emotion in the film involves Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) trying to quit drinking.  I was really disappointed in this aspect of the film.  Peter Jackson got us to believe a billion pound ape was sensitive, we could have seen more of that magic here.

The Verdict
A beautiful spectacle with very little substance
The movie was a good one.  It was a well crafted animated film.  But it doesn't pack the emotional punch that Pixar has mastered in this genre.  Everyone involved, especially Speilberg, Jackson, Bell, Serkis and Craig, should be proud of the outcome.  But there was just a little more flash, and a little less heart than I would have liked to see out of this Dream Team of film makers.

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