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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Release Date: 12-21-2011)

        Looking for a big way to cap off the year in movies? How about a Steven Spielberg double-feature? The director has not one, but two films in theaters right now, their release dates slotted a mere 4 days apart from one another. It's quite the under-taking, but it becomes even more impressive when one considers a few particulars. The man hasn't helmed a flick since 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (he hasn't made a movie that anyone actually liked since his 2005 double-header of War of the Worlds and Munich). What's more, both of his newest under-takings are truly Spielberg-ian in size. On friday, I'll be taking a look at his latest battle epic, War Horse, and today, I'll be diving into The Adventures of Tintin, his preliminary experiment with both animation and 3-D.

        Based on the famous-everywhere-but-in-the-U.S. writings of Hergé, Tintin is the story of the titular boy-reporter (portrayed through motion-capture technology by Jamie Bell), his trusty dog Snowy, and a model ships that sets them on the course of a globe-trotting adventure. The aforementioned trinket prompts the attention of Sakharine (Daniel Craig), a clearly evil type (Goatee, Spectacles, Walking Cane, Pet Hawk... you get the drill) who eventually kidnaps Tintin, taking him aboard his ship, believing the boy might have knowledge of a precious secret. While onboard, Tintin meets the vessel's former Captain, Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis), and the two manage to escape the ship, and set off on a quest of their own, Sakharine ever-close behind.

        The plot of this movie is a trifle, providing the characters with excuses to go here, and look for that, and it's, 'See you next time!' ending makes it feel even that much more trivial. No, Tintin is not much of a movie in terms of story-line, because the technology on hand seems to be Spielberg's true focus, and, trust me, it'll be yours as well. This is the very first motion capture movie I have ever seen where the human characters didn't look like they had dead souls behind their shallow eyes. That might sound like faint praise, but this is an animation style that people have been toying around with for years now, and Tintin is honestly the very, very first that I've seen where the humans are at least passable as humans. The texture of the film, always a strong-point for this style of animation, is marvelous, the desert dunes, and the endless oceans appearing tactile and lavish. There's even a single-take action shot that traces through an entire crumbling city which is as impressive as any Five minute stretch of film this year. Not unlike this summer's Transformers movie, Tintin is kind of heartless, and can become exhausting with its endless desire for action, but said action is top-notch, and it never forgets to bring the wow.

Grade: B

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