Best Movies of All Time + Steven Spielberg



"You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There's something you need to know about failure, Tintin. You can never let it defeat you."
-- Captain Haddock

The Adventures of Tintin is a 2011 animated adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg that utilizes motion capture technology. After purchasing a model of a history-laden ship called the Unicorn, well-known reporter Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) learns that the demand for the model is rather high. He starts to search for the story behind the ship, but he soon finds himself wrapped up in a more nefarious plot. Tintin is kidnapped by a man named Sakharine (voiced by Daniel Craig), who plans to find the secret behind the story of the Unicorn, which is only held by a descendant of the ship's captain, Sir Francis Haddock. Fortunately for Sakharine, he has found the last remaining member of the Haddock lineage, Captain Haddock (voiced by Andy Serkis), and plans to use him to find the answer he seeks. Wanting to learn the truth before Sakharine, Tintin teams with Haddock to keep Sakharine from finding the secret of the Unicorn, chasing him to the ends of the earth in order to stop him.

When I first heard about this film, I recognized the Tintin namesake despite having not been at all familiar with the original Belgian comic books. The biggest reason behind my desire to see the film was the collaboration between Hollywood legends Spielberg and Peter Jackson, as well as the fact that this would serve as the former's first animated feature film. Jackson, having been well-versed with the concept of motion capture, surely helped ease Spielberg into the filming technique. Their teamwork made this an almost must-see for me, but as with any movie, it had to be seen to be potentially enjoyed. It earned generally favorable reviews - it currently holds a 75% approval rating on - but it hasn't had the overwhelming success I thought it might. And after having watched it, I think it should easily have those rave reviews.

I want to start with the animation, which was stunningly beautiful. I've heard a couple of critics knock the motion-capture style that Tintin uses, citing that it takes away from the even-handed style of cartooning that the original comic books pioneered. While this style is referenced by a joke early in the film, I still think that the animation in this film does quite a bit of justice. It gave the filmmakers quite a wide range with which to work. But there's something absolutely beautiful about this film's animation. Aside from the motion-capture techniques used to create Gollum in the Lord of the Rings franchise, I personally think this is the best I've ever seen motion capture work. It's utterly stunning. I can't even begin to describe it.

I'm a little torn about how to talk about the acting in the film. Because the performances are technically motion capture performances, we do have the actors giving the live performances in front of a camera. It's only after the filming is done that the animation is laid over their acting. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) claims that the performances are vocal ones, and seeing as the actual actors aren't really seen on-screen, I suppose that's how they have to be reviewed. In that sense, the vocal acting is simply stunning. Bell is great, but I think that Serkis and Craig deserve a lot of mention. We also get some comic relief from the likes of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

The real shining moment of this film, however, is in its screenplay. Spielberg steals a page from his own playbook by bringing us a very Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque film, and it plays out almost as wonderfully. The story's scope is enormous, and the action and adventure run non-stop from start to finish. At the same time, however, we're getting a lot of comedy along the way, just like in the Indiana Jones franchise of old. I also thought the characters were written incredibly well, even if some of their relationships - mostly the one between Tintin and Haddock - echoed some former relationships from the Indy franchise (i.e., Indiana and Henry Jones Sr.). The story also offers just the right amount of twists and turns, and it's enough to keep the audience guessing until the very last scene. The screenwriters did a fantastic job with this one.

I also want to applaud the film's musical score, which was composed by the always-great John Williams. Last year, I heard Williams comment that his score for this film would be just as iconic as the scores he composed for Jaws and Star Wars, and although this one will probably never reach that particular echelon, I do have to say that it proved to be fantastic and fit the film's tone incredibly well. Here's a snippet for your listening pleasure:

At the end of the day, The Adventures of Tintin met and surpassed my every expectation. I have to say that I think Spielberg and Jackson have made quite the combination and have produced a fantastic film, and I wouldn't be surprised were they to collaborate again and craft a sequel to this one. They've left the possibility open, so if this film's success can translate to box office gross, then we should be seeing another Tintin adventure somewhere on the distant horizon. If you haven't had a chance to see this film, I think you need to do yourself a favor and get a theater as quickly as possible.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A
2 Thumbs Up

2011, adventure, Adventures of Tintin, Andy Serkis, animated, Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, John Williams (I), movie review, Nick Frost, Oscar nom, Peter Jackson, Simon Pegg, and more:

Relevant to: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN + Steven Spielberg