The Adventures of Tintin review

:. Director: Steven Spielberg
:. Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig
:. Running Time: 2:10
:. Year: 2011
:. Country: USA


How to adapt for the big screen an internationally renowned comic book featuring the adventures of a young reporter? How to modernize a somewhat outdated work for a new generation? How to attract in the same theater old fans and young spectators who are not very familiar with Tintin? These are the questions director Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones) and producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) must have asked themselves and are attempting to answer here.

If the opening sequence pays a beautiful homage to the comic book (use of shadows, inclusion of Tintin's author, Herge, as a street artist) while being reminiscent of James Bond's openings, it also shows clearly Mr. Spielberg's intentions: offering his own version of Tintin. And since the best adaptations are usually a clear departure from the originals, this new version is shot in 3D, using James Cameron's Avatar motion capture technology and featuring Jamie Bell (of Billy Elliot's fame) in the title role. Thanks to these tools, the filmmaker can finally appropriate the myth, give it life onscreen and push its visual boundaries.

This take on The Secret of the Unicorn, first chapter of a planned trilogy, borrows from several Tintin comic books, whether it's in terms of storyline or elements (for example the red jeep from Tintin in the Congo). Most of the book's emblematic characters are here, except for Professor Tournesol: Captain Haddock, Thomson and Thompson and the Castafiore among others. Mr. Spielberg however fails to give them proper life: they might be smoothly animated but they lack a psychological dimension. They look like lifeless puppets caught in a relentless script and, even the central character, which has been slightly masculinized, seems to just be used as a catalyst for all those adventures.

Rather than character development, the director prefers to privileges two elements here: speed and fluidity. Chases abound, in the tradition of James Bond and Jason Bourne movies, one of the most spectacular sequences being set for more than 6 minutes in a Moroccan town, from the streets to the roofs; a scene which mixes effectively speed and fluidity, turning Tintin into a modern Indiana Jones while supporting characters are relegated in the background.

All those ingredients turn The Adventures of Tintin into an entertaining and satisfying blockbuster, filled with thrills and taking spectators on a relentless adventure, from beginning to end. Mr. Spielberg is like a kid playing with his new - technologic - toys whether he is using reflections as transitions from one plan to another, flooding the desert or making bold camera moves; he even makes references to earlier works such as Jaws. The result proves to be quite effective and should satisfy both Tintin aficionados and neophytes; the lack of emotional depth however limits what could have been a success.

  Moland Fengkov

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