Movies Worth Rewatching: The Adventures of Tintin

This week we’re wrapping up our month long spotlight of the films of Steven Spielberg by talking about one of his most recent films, The Adventures of Tintin (2011, Paramount Pictures).

I was first introduced to the characters and stories of The Adventures of Tintin through the animated TV series of the same name back in the early 90s.  The rich world of Tintin had everything a boy could ask for, adventure, intrigue, rockets, exotic travel and drunks (wait, what?). Ten-year old me didn’t stand a chance, it was love at first sight.  I was a regular viewer of the HBO-released TV series all the way through its three season run, even going as far as to rewatch it during reruns on Nickelodeon.  As time passed, Tintin slowly faded into the melting pot of influences that have made me the nerd I am today.  About ten years later, somewhere in my college years, a good friend bought me a collection of the original Hergé comics from the 30s, recalling from conversation that I liked a TV series of the same name.  This would be the first time I’d ever directly seen Hergé’s absolutely stunning art and stories, and just like with the TV series before, I fell in love with Tintin all over again.  Although the TV adaptation was surprisingly faithful to the books, they paled in comparison to the beautiful panel work and well researched world of Hergé’s well crafted stories.  Time continued to pass and my collection of comics continued to grow, and eventually the magic of Tintin once again faded into the background of my life.  Another ten years later, as fate would have it, Tintin jumped back into my life again when the news broke that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson had plans to adapt The Adventures of Tintin into a major motion picture.

Leading up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin, I was honestly a bit skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy it.  Although I knew full well that I loved the source material, I was less sure of some of the elements going into its film adaptation, mainly Spielberg and Jackson’s choice of using a motion capture animation style to create the film.  Up until that point, I hadn’t enjoyed any of the motion capture animated films that had been released, mostly because I never understood why those filmmakers hadn’t just made a “real” (or live action) movie instead.  Pair that with my recent dissatisfaction with the newer films of Steven Spielberg and a cross-country move and you’ve got your classic “Mel’s Out” movie cocktail. Despite everything I saw leading up to The Adventures of Tintin‘s release telling me I would love it, I had convinced myself that it would be no good and managed to miss seeing it in theaters during its release.  Thankfully Ben, the famous fellow from this website, convinced me to give Tintin and Steven Spielberg another try.  So, certain that I would regret the decision later, I blind-bought The Adventures of Tintin on Blu-ray and, great snakes, I’m so happy I was wrong!  Just like it had done before time and time again, the world of Tintin grabbed ahold of my heart and took me along for an amazing ride.

So, how does it hold up one week and five viewings later?  (true story)

I really love The Adventures of Tintin, and I can’t help kicking myself for not watching it sooner.  Steven Spielberg returns to classic form and creates a movie that belongs right alongside any of the great, celebrated films of his past while successfully proving the cynic in me wrong.  Adding to the nostalgic “Spielberg” feel, John Williams provides an absolutely incredible score which melds perfectly into the numerous varied tones of the film, while also taking a few moments to direct your attention to just how beautifully the music was composed (most notably in the piece over the opening credits of the film, really fantastic stuff!).  The story combines elements of two of my favorite Tintin stories together, The Secret of the Unicorn and The Crab with the Golden Claw, and does a fine job of it.  Although they do take some liberties with the stories, they remain incredibly faithful to the spirit of Hergé’s work, often “winking” at fans of the original comics with details placed in the background throughout the movie.

Surprisingly, my biggest concern before seeing The Adventures of Tintin, the motion capture animation style used to make the film, happens to be my absolute favorite part of the movie.  This film is breathtakingly gorgeous, blending together crucial character design distinctions from Hergé with a super realistic animation style.  Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson truly bring the original comics to life in a way that a traditionally shot film could have never done.  Movies like The Adventures of Tintin are why motion capture animation should exist, and if you’re like me and have waited to see it as a result of previous bad motion capture animation movies, your wait is over.  One benefit of this style of animation that hadn’t occurred to me before was the filmmaker’s freedom to choose the absolute right actor for the job, regardless of their physical appearance.  The cast of The Adventures of Tintin are all famous and spectacular and make for great marketing on movie posters, but if I had not known who was in this film before seeing it, I would have never been able to guess by their performances.  Every single actor gives 100% to the role, completely allowing the characters of the film to shine through instead of the actors’ individual personalities (with special mention to the incredibly talented Andy Serkis for stealing every scene with his performance as Captain Haddock).  As someone who was already familiar with the characters of Tintin before seeing the movie adaptation, I was delightfully surprised to just see the characters I loved on the screen instead of Hollywood personalities.  I really hope to see more of this inspired use of technology as more and more illustrated stories get adapted to film.

If you’ve never been exposed to the incredible world of Hergé and The Adventures of Tintin, I highly recommend you check it out in one of its many fantastic forms.  This film currently sits high on my favorite movies of the past few years and has yet to leave my Blu-ray player since it was purchased.  The Adventures of Tintin is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray and is well worth whatever price the store is asking for.  Trust me, I’ve just eaten more than my fair share of crow over it.  With no thanks to me, the film was an international success at the box office and will thankfully be followed up by a sequel with a release date and story particulars to come sometime in the future.

by Mel Dale



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4 Comments on “Movies Worth Rewatching: The Adventures of Tintin”

  1. Mel Dale June 30, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    I can see where you’re coming from, although I would have to disagree with your opinion on the tone and intended audience of the original comics. Although they are full of content that is unacceptable for children (by modern standards at least), The Adventures of Tintin began in the children’s supplement to a newspaper. Hergé full intended his primary audience for Tintin to be children. That’s not to say his work doesn’t also resonate with adults, because I absolutely feel it does, but to point of fact it is a children’s comic. If Spielberg and Jackson were to have ignored that aspect of Hergé’s work, I feel they would have also lost the spirit of the original stories. I was actually shocked at how much of the original content was still in the movie. We see our young protagonist concealing a deadly firearm as he approaches a stranger, people getting gunned down in doorways, all kinds of drunken shenanigans, plenty of humans hitting other humans (unheard of in modern children’s movies), heck there’s even a little blood spot on Red Rackham after Sir Francis stabs him. Crazy stuff.

  2. Nikolas dane June 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    To be honest, is not that i didn’t enjoy it, I actually did. Maybe I was expecting something more “grown up” and more directed to a more mature audience. It’s hard to explain but to put it into simple words I think the script was directed for children and not for a late teen or more mature audience. I am 27 years old and read the saw the cartoons when I was kid and when I was in my teens I came across with the comics. And when I go to the core of the characters i feel they were a more audience mature characters. A drunk sailor, a crazy professor, two dumb detectives and of course the”somebody is going to kill me” journalist.

    The characters are faith full and I am not saying that the material isn’t. Everything was great, but i feel this movie was directed to a “Family” view audience when I felt that the comic books were for a more teen plus reader.

    All in all it is great and was astonished by many things that they did.

  3. Mel Dale June 29, 2012 at 4:18 am #

    Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. I’d be interested to hear what issues you had with it that kept it from being a solid adaptation in your opinion. I usually look to see if the spirit of the source material is there, whether the voice of the characters is still present, and finally whether or not the central thesis of the original work is still the thesis of the adaptation. For me, The Adventures of Tintin nailed all three of these. Perhaps there’s something in the original Hergé comics that you were looking for that wasn’t as important to me? It’s interesting how two people can enjoy the same thing but for two completely different reasons.

  4. Nikolas Dane June 29, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    I had lots of issues wuth this movie, but in the end it was a great attempt to do a Tintin movie. To be honest I would have liked that the movie was not that cartoonish, and maybe to “dumbed down” for kids to enjoy it.

    I loved the comics and the animated series, I think I always considered it as a more mature story and not as young viewer.

    Other than that I really liked it and the Animation is amazing.

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