2011 has been a busy year for Steven Spielberg, specifically December. Super 8 was a collaboration with director J.J. Abrams that commingled much of the themes and styles of both filmmakers. For The Adventures of Tintin, Spielberg turned to Peter Jackson to assist with the motion-capture process in order to successfully adapt the colorful world of Hergé’s Tintin.
Tintin (Jamie Bell) purchases an antique model of a sailing ship called The Unicorn just prior to two other men asking for the same item, a mysterious man named Barnaby and Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig) and mysterious man named Barnaby. After Tintin and his White Fox Terrier Snowy arrive home and find The Unicorn model missing, the two find that the model clearly has more importance than they had originally assumed. Along with detectives Thomson and Thompson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and the boozed Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), Tintin sets out on an international adventure.
I was an adoring fan of the 1990s HBO animated adaptation of the franchise when it was syndicated on Nickelodeon. Spielberg and Jackson have captured the suspense, humor, and timelessness of Tintin in this 2011 adaptation. The film is far from a mere adaptation, it cleverly builds upon the foundation that had already existed. The Tintin comics, and the animated series, is known for its use of color. However, something very contemporary has happened to this adaptation. All action was captured using the latest motion-capture technology thanks to Peter Jackson’s award-winning WETA Digital company. This is why the character motion of the film looks so natural, yet the cartoonish nature deters any negative bias toward the film. Essentially, The Adventures of Tintin does not attempt to replicate reality, instead the filmmakers chosen to alter our reality to better reflect the reality that Hergé had created. The film is slightly darker in tone, but still encapsulates the spirit of the franchise despite its more subdued palate.
Tintin is familiar territory for Spielberg, it is essentially an Indiana Jones for the rest of the world and targeted towards children. Those who have disdain towards Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, The Adventures of Tintin may be the serialized swashbuckling period franchise that would tide over dissenting Indiana Jones fans. Like Jones, Tintin typically investigates antiques that apparently have more value than they appear or at least lead to a treasure of fortune or truth. Tintin may feel as if plot points are typical or even overtly cliché, especially when comparing it to Indiana Jones. However, it is Tintin that created many of the conventional suspense tropes seen in action/adventures like these. Essentially, the film is not let down by these clichés, but succeeds because they are appear natural an sincere.
Michael Bay’s egregious Transformers franchise in which Spielberg has been serving as executive director has rubbed off on Spielberg. Tintin features a few scenes in which our senses, especially when viewed in 3D, are overcome with sonic and virtual noise that seems almost too much at times. Despite this, a lovely soundtrack from veteran film composer John Williams and an Saul Bass inspired opening title sequence allows The Adventures of Tintin to be recreated and served to a new generation with admiration for the world that Hergé’s created and a humble eye towards the future.