With gorgeous animation and action typical of its director, Steven Spielberg brings a comic strip to the big screen — in 3-D, no less.
“The Adventures of Tintin” has a lot in common with “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and other fanciful Spielbergian adventures, and it’s sure to delight children and adults who enjoy a good romp, particularly those who are aficionados of the art of animation.
The fun begins right away with a mini-story that’s told without dialogue as the opening credits roll. The era is the past, which befits characters who first appeared in the 1920s. (If you haven’t heard of Tintin, that’s no surprise because the first comics were in French.) The characters of mystery-solving reporter Tintin (the voice of Jamie Bell, “Billy Elliott”) and his faithful dog Snowy are more well-known in Europe.
After Tintin spies a beautiful model ship in a market, his life turns upside-down, with thieves and danger lurking seemingly everywhere. With the help, or perhaps that should be the hindrance, of the hard-drinking Captain Haddock (voiced by Andy Serkis, recently applauded for his marvelous work in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), the trio sets out to solve an ages-old mystery that involves a code and Haddock’s ancestors. The sinister Sakharine (voice of Daniel Craig) is on hand to complicate matters further.
The movie includes some entertaining chases on land and on sea, and its dialogue and characters are generally good-humored without being silly.
The star of the show is the motion-capture animation, which delivers rich details and nods to Spielberg. Several of the characters have a distinctly Spielberg-esque appearance, which adds to the overall lighthearted tone. This film takes what was done in “The Polar Express” to the next level in terms of sophistication. Look at the fur on Snowy and the texture of the characters’ clothing and you’ll see a richness that hasn’t been obvious in previous animated projects using this process.
You won’t need to be familiar with the characters to enjoy them. Kids in particular will get a kick out of the delightfully resourceful Snowy, and most audiences will appreciate Tintin’s quick wit and tenacity as he tries to solve a puzzle while keeping Captain Haddock in line.
It’s the first in a series of Tintin adventures, and I, for one, am glad to see the emergence of a new, fresh franchise.