First beginning in 1930, The Adventures of Tintin was published, a Belgian comic about a journalist who helps solve mysteries and find treasure. The series remains highly popular, and prolific in francophone culture. Having tens of thousands of fans worldwide, one of them being our own Silverwolf, The Adventure of Tintin, it is one of the most prolific European comic book series in the history of comics.
I am going to admit, I was exposed to Tintin at a very young age, watching the television show in Spanish and occasionally being exposed to the comics. I didn’t like them back then; I was much more into the French-language comic “Asterix and Obelix,” about ancient Gaul and Rome. I think, looking back, “Tintin” was too mature for me at the time, but now that I am older, and have a slightly longer attention span, I decided checking out the new movie would be a good way to dive into the franchise. So, this week, on Manic Movie Magic, let’s take a look at The Adventures of Tintin.
The Adventures of Tintin starts with the title character, and his adorable dog Snowy, in an silhouette opening showing the typical adventure: discover a mysterious scandal or treasure, Tintin going to investigating, getting in trouble with the wrong people, but ultimately saving the day. When the opening is over, we see Tintin and Snowy roaming a flea market, when he spots a model boat. After buying it, he is warned that the ship will put him danger. Tintin, of course, doesn’t make much of it, and goes back home.
After an accident which breaks the model boat, and one of the men who warned Tintin is gunned down on his doorstep, Tintin finds his apartment broken into without anything being stolen. With the help of Snowy, who acts like his own character rather than just the token cute pet, Tintin finds a hidden piece of paper. Tintin, a journalist, does what any good journalist would do – research! He finds out the ship he had a model of was the Unicorn, a ship believed to have been carrying a secret cargo.
However, his luck is short lived after he is captured by a man who is obsessed with finding the sunken treasure. Finding that Tintin doesn’t have the map on him, due to a pickpocket, and manages to escape the cargo bay to find Captain Haddock, a drunk whose ancestor captained the Unicorn. They escape on a life boat, which Haddock sets on fire because…well, drunk is as drunk does.
The rest of the film is devoted to Tintin, Haddock, and Snowy, stopping the evil man from stealing the last piece of the puzzle, saving the day, and ultimately finding the treasure to live happily ever after. How it gets there, and the big reveal about how everything is connected is handled so well, it would be a shame to ruin it.
The film introduces the three main characters without glossing over their backstories or character development. Arguably, the story is Haddock-centered, really developing his character the most, but Tintin never has to fight for the spotlight. I also like how Snowy is a real character, rather than just thrown in there to be the sympathetic, lovable pet who just barks and pants. It’s a great story that really highlights the origins of Tintin and Haddock’s friendship…though whether or not that’s a good thing, I have yet to decide…
The film is also more adult than I thought it was going to be. I know there’s that stereotype that animation is for kids, but this was advertised on Nickelodeon, and it seemed to be very kid-centered. However, there are people dying on screen, and a lot of alcohol present, which is something you would never see in a Disney film (at least, not yet). Obviously, this was done to stay true to the original comic, and I’m sure the maturity of the content was part of what made the series as a whole so good in the first place – even kids know that people die, and drink, and do drugs, and treating a young audience with that kind of respect goes a long way subconsciously. Yet, it still somehow manages to maintain a certain innocence to the characters, which was nice to see them pull off.
The film looks so fantastic, it’s hard to explain. I don’t like motion capture, it looks to creepily human for my taste, like in the Polar Express. It’s something about their faces which makes me uncomfortable, but strangely enough, that wasn’t a problem for me in this film. The scenes are all gorgeous, bordering between animated and live action, and sucking me into every scene with ease. The details on the backgrounds, costumes, and characters are flawless, really showing how far the technology has come.
The only big part of the film I wasn’t pleased with was the subplot with the pickpocket. I understand why it was important to the plot, i.e. so Tintin wouldn’t have the map on him when he was captured, but that’s all it was necessary for. It wasn’t particularly funny, or interesting, and didn’t develop any characters or story, so I felt it could have been left out. Again, this could have been done to stay true to the original comic, but I’m still not sure if it was the best decision.
Overall, the film is a lot of fun, with plenty of that mature themes and jokes that appeals to the adults, with all the action and excitement that holds the kids’ attention. I think it is one of the most enjoyable animated films I have seen in a while. If you can, go watch it, it’s worth the cash. It certainly makes me want to go back and see just what I was missing as a kid.
Tune in next week when I finished out the current-films portion of films I would dare to review on this site (never shall you see a review of Joyful Noise…NEVER!) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.