With The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Spielberg has finally decided to play with some of the newest toys of cinema, and in his first motion capture film, he revolutionizes the format. Moreso than Avatar, here Spielberg is let loose to play with the camera as he sees fit, and you can see an invigorated director who’s able to stage sequences in ways that would be unimaginable in live action. And that’s enough to make it a must-see.

The Players:

The Plot:

After purchasing a antique minature ship, Tintin (Bell) is targeted by Ivanovich Sakharine (Craig) and his minions. The ship holds a secret and Tintin uncovers it with just enough time to be kidnapped and put to sea. There he meets Captain Haddock (Serkis) a drunk with a connection to that mystery. It seems if three pieces of a puzzle are put together, a treasure will be revealed. And it turns out that Ivanovich and Haddock’s family have a long standing grudge.

The Good:

  • Spielberg’s Camera: Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest working directors, and the man has always been one of the most technically proficient filmmakers in the history of cinema. Here, unmoored from having a practical camera, he’s able to do things that just aren’t humanly possible in live action. From a spectacular one-shot action sequence, to how he moves a camera on a boat, it’s like watching a maestro given everything he’s ever wanted. But even the introduction of Tintin via his famous hair is a delight. The man is just that good.
  • Andy Serkis: Though Jamie Bell’s Tintin is more avatar than action star, Serkis’s Captain Haddock is a delightful character who goes from fall down drunk to avenger of a family legacy. It’s a fun role, and he makes the best impression of the cast, though Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are charming as the bumbling Thompson twins (yes, the band was named after them).
  • That One Shot: Seriously, there is no better action sequence this or any other year than the one shot of Tintin and Haddock trying to get a scrap of paper as a broken dam sends water flooding down on them, and bad guys are chasing them. Spielberg’s sense of action in films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has never left the master, and it’s one of those shots that left me cackling in delight.
  • Sense of Adventure: It’s easy to say that this is better than the last Indiana Jones film. But it’s also fair to say that it’s better than the last two Indiana Jones films.

The Bad:

  • Tintin, Kinda Boring: If there’s a problem with the film it’s that as an adult this doesn’t have the sort of lead that’s exceptional. Tintin is a young reporter who’s not a total blank, but is meant to be an audience surrogate for the children in the audience. The script does what they can with the character, and it’s a fun movie and story regardless, but if the film has one drawback, it’s that the main character is a bit of a blank.
  • Sequels: The film treats a follow-up like a an afterthought, and though the film works on its own merits, it’s still the shortest theatrical film Spielberg has ever made. It’s nice that the film’s reasonably tight, but the ending undercuts some goodwill by insisting there will be more.

Overall:

Robert Zemeckis blanched at the idea that Motion-Capture movies are animated films, but if they are, then Tintin is easily the best animated film of the year. It’s a ridiculously entertaining film that never outstays its welcome.

Rating: 8.8/10

The Adventures of Tintin hits theaters December 21.

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Trailer: