Review: The Adventures of Tintin (2011 movie)

Like The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007), this film uses computer-generated animation based in large part on motion capture of live actors (which explains why the credits this animated film include stunt performers).

This is of course an adaptation of the famous comic strip and later comic book series created by Belgian artist and writer Remi Georges (1907–1983), better known by his pen name Hergé. More precisely, it’s an adaptation of the English-language version of the comic, which differs a little from the French original among other things in making Tintin a resident of England rather than Belgium and using different names for many of the characters.

Director Stephen Spielberg and Hergé were fans of one another’s work, and Spielberg actually acquired the rights to make a Tintin movie while Hergé was still alive. An animated version of Hergé himself is the first character seen in the movie. Spielberg’s original intent was to make a live-action film, but Peter Jackson (whose company supplied much of the technology and expertise) reportedly convinced him that CGI would be more liberating in terms of what could be accomplished. In fact, some scenes are so full of complex, extremely rapid action that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on except in general outline.

Tintin is a young journalist and adventurer whose purchase of a model ship gets him into his latest series of narrow scrapes. The story is taken from three of Tintin’s book-length adventures, including the one in which he first meets series regular Captain Haddock, a merchant seaman who drinks far too much but is otherwise capable and loyal. The captain and Tintin’s dog, a white fox terrier named Snowy (Milou in the original), contribute comedic bits as well as their own derring-do, along with incompetent detectives Thompson and Thomson (né DuPont and DuPond).

It’s not deep, but it’s a lot of fun and possibly Spielberg’s best action film since Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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