Film Review: The Adventures of Tintin

It seems that turning our childhood memories into bigger, better and even more realistic adventures through the use of 3D animation on screen has become the latest trend of 21st century film-making. I certainly can’t complain – it gives us a reason to wear cool glasses and watch something that we won’t be judged as being ‘too old’ for. But can even the greatest directors of our time maintain the enchantment of our old-time favourites that we grew up with? It’s a lot to ask.

Together, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson have brought Herge’s popular comic series, The Adventures of Tintin, to life as a 3D motion capture film. The plot involves the eager journalist Tintin (Jamie Bell) who teams up with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) to uncover the mystery behind his grandfather’s ship, The Unicorn. Yet their quest is impeded by a family fiend, Sakharine (Daniel Craig), who is also intent on finding out the secret of the ship. 

The film opens ambiguously, with only a show of feet and a gaggle of off screen voices and sounds, building our anticipation of these CGI characters. Once revealed, we’re startled to see Tintin as an animated yet weirdly realistic human character, with big twinkling eyes instead of the two iconic ink dots we’ve been so accustomed to.

Yet we gradually get over this as we realize it’s got all the hallmarks of any Hollywood film: the panning, sweeping camera movements and fancy high angle shots almost makes us feel as if we’re watching a real movie instead of a digital adaptation.The refinement of the character’s realistic qualities, from the glossiness of Tintin’s tuft of hair to the finely wrought wrinkles on Captain Haddock’s face renders them so lifelike and visceral, it’s as though the film might have used real actors and on location shooting instead of CGI.

But despite this sense of realism, Tintin’s flatness and vacant aura means we connect much more to Captain Haddock, whose sense of humour and witty lines seem to make up for tinTin’s lack of energy and life. Indeed, Andy Serkis’s skilful performance in portraying the drunken Captain is probably what makes the film most enjoyable. Despite the amount of work that’s gone into creating the exhilarating action scenes, complete with thrilling car chases, rapid plane rides and dodging bullets that are typical of big budget Hollywood films, it all seems a little disappointing to find a favourable classic turned into another of Hollywood’s mainstream products.

Whilst being enhanced by brilliant 3D effects, our enjoyable journey with Tintin and friends takes you across high seas to the ends of Morocco and the Saharan desert,  but there’s still something waning in the film’s overall appearance. Those who have read and grown up with the comics and watched the TV series might leave the cinema feeling somewhat empty – proving that even Hollywood royalty can’t recapture the magic of Herge’s pen and ink.