The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

For someone unfamiliar with Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin comic, Steven Spielberg establishes an aura of adventure with a delightful animated credits sequence. It’s a nonstop globetrotting sequence that summates a lot of what you’ll be seeing in the feature. It also inadvertently serves to illustrate the major problems that plague Spielberg’s adaption. The sequence features silhouettes of the film’s hero, Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his sidekick Snowy as they span the globe. It’s thrilling and has a good sense of slapstick humor, but at the same time, it’s superficial and easy to digest. It’s perfectly suited for a credits sequence, but when we are finally introduced to Tintin, his dog, and the ensemble cast, it becomes disappointingly clear that they’re never going to expand beyond their character niche.

Tintin was scripted by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. Wright’s sense of whimsy translates well onscreen, especially in earlier portions of the film when Tintin and Snowy banter with a merchant and contend with a local pickpocket. But like Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, many of the characters operate under thin circumstances. None of them are particularly world weary, especially the titular hero. Problems with the script aside, Tintin transitions from a grounded piece of investigative work to a full-fledged action caper with mixed results. Spielberg has incredible control over the camera, as he swoops into the action and positions his camera with grace. But what becomes problematic is the way he stacks these action sequences one after another. It becomes relentless. It’s basically the antithesis of War Horse, as The Adventures of Tintin refuses to pause for a pensive state, instead embracing a hyperactive tone.

So, it’s got a lot of energy. Such relentless energy becomes problematic, as there’s hardly any room to breathe and appreciate any singular aspect to Tintin’s design. Despite an impressive single shot chase sequence through the streets of Morocco near the film’s end, none of the action sequences leave much of an impression. And what’s even more flabbergasting is that the Moroccan action sequence does not cap off the film – we’re still left with a rather clumsy action sequence involving cranes and an anticlimactic conclusion. The Adventures of Tintin works well in spurts, but like War Horse, there no level of attachment to any of the characters. On a technical level, the film is quite impressive, and that Moroccan chase sequence is really good, but otherwise, it didn’t leave much of an impression.

Rating: 6/10