PG! Because it's animaaaaaattttteeeeddd! This is about a kid reporter who uses a gun and a guy who drinks way too much. But because it is animated and aimed at kids, it is PG. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the PG part. More movies should be PG. But this is definitely a PG-13 if it was live action. But this is another example of hypocrisy because there is some danger and violence in this movie. PG.
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
This! This is the Indiana Jones movie that we wanted. Okay, that's a really brave thing to say and I want to pat myself on the back for saying that. Honestly, the names that went into this movie. I showed this to my daughter because she had finished by Tintin 3-pack hardcover. I remember that my wife and I watched this movie in the theater back in 2011 because Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were in this movie and that I was a big Tintin fan when I was a kid. But since then, a lot has happened. Um, the script was written by Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat. I'm going to let you sit with that for a second. My favorite director of the modern era and then the guy who was in charge of my favorite era of Doctor Who and creator of Sherlock. Then Peter Jackson produced it? Then, and this goes back to my initial comment, Steven Spielberg directed it just like he did when he made the Indiana Jones films? Like, this movie looks and feels like Indiana Jones. John Williams did the score! How is this movie not talked about forever.
Oh, I think I know why. I don't know what Hollywood's obsession with motion capture animation is. We keep getting these movies and the novelty died almost as fast as it started. We had The Polar Express and that's it. (And I didn't even like The Polar Express.) The odd thing about mocap animation is that it aims for photo-realism. But then, what's the point? I'm going to spend a lot of this review answering a lot of my rhetorical questions. You can make an entire world look amazing for cheap when you make it animated. There's this fantastic look to the movie, but this movie is about spectacle. So is Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones looks awesome because people are doing real stunts. The world is mindblowing because someone actually made all of that stuff. We're seeing real things and real danger. But, at the end of the day, as detailed as the world of Tintin and Beowulf are, no one is any danger. It's all on a controlled soundstage. No one is high up in the air. It's motion capture suits. While I completely stand by Tintin as a successful movie, the energy is kind of deflated knowing that everything is done with motion capture suits. I hated Die Another Day, despite being a big Bond fan. It's the idea of a digital action sequence. It works with things like The Matrix because there is something to ground the entire experience. But with Tintin, there are these epic set pieces that really have to work hard to get my attention. I'm not saying it doesn't succeed. But it does spend way too much time to win me over to its side. I mentioned that motion capture animation is a bit of a novelty and I think that's the movie's biggest problem. If the movie was going to be animated, even with motion capture, it should have embraced the style of the cartoon. This cake-and-eat-it-too nonsense is what gets under my skin. The movie is clearly animated (although I had to explain to my daughter what she was seeing). Why not go for the Herge models? I mean, everyone involved is clearly a fan of the source material. There are so many references to the style that Herge gave the characters. Either go live action or make it stylized. (Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse, I have high hopes for you.)
When watching the movie, I absolutely had the best time with it. My kids were watching. Sometimes they snuggled with me and sometimes they were half-paying attention. That's part of being a parent. But when I write about it, I can see why The Adventures of Tintin didn't work on the level that it should have. The thing that I really liked were the characters and the beat-to-beat moments that just clicked. But as an actual plot, I found it to be extremely thin. I'm going to slightly excuse the movie a bit because I wasn't the best audience member for the entire film. I had to start cooking dinner and I knew that my wife probably wouldn't be excited to watch The Adventures of Tintin. But there was this middle lag (coincidentally, I'm sure, over the part where I started cooking dinner). I was still paying attention. Probably more attention than my kids were. But that odd connection between Captain Haddock and his ancestor was a bit of a stretch. I wanted to get on board (pun intended), but it seemed a bit of a stretch that this entire thing was a familial legacy. I don't think that the movie really needed it. Again, it's Indiana Jones. Chasing down a lost treasure is all that is really needed. (Okay, Indiana Jones has more to it than that, but the foundation is the lost treasure.) Considering that this movie is simply using the Indiana Jones template, I'm surprised that the Raiders formula isn't more important. The Ark of the Covenant is important, but it isn't specifically tied to Indiana Jones or the side characters too intimately. (Marion's father spent his life looking for it, but the actual ark isn't tied to the family history.) We don't really get character building stuff until the third installment. So why tie the narrative to Captain Haddock? There's a lot to throw at the screen to begin with. Why complicate matters by introducing a character and introducing this legacy that needs to be explored more than others. Haddock is a caricature. I don't need depth added to his arc. That's where the movie kind of falls apart. I want to get used to these characters before they are made complex for me. Honestly, it's weird. Tintin himself doesn't really get much character background, but an archetype like Haddock has a rich history? It's weird.
There's something that is kind of unresolved in the movie. Haddock has this arc (pun intended) where he goes from drunken buffoon to true friend over the course of the film. That's perfectly fine. But Haddock is blamed for something he didn't do. It's the moment in the story when Tintin finally is fed up with Haddock's drinking and there's a split between the two characters. That moment is resolved without an explanation. It's a little cliche, honestly. It's so cliche that Spielberg almost didn't feel like filming it. We all know that people forgive each other in the heat of action and that the story needs to move on. But in this case, there's nothing that actually resolves that. The characters just like each other again. Maybe that is more true to life, but it also feels very undercooked. I kind of need these characters to have a little more investment in these moments, especially considering that these characters didn't know each other before this adventure. Maybe there's just too much and it all feels a bit undercooked. (I liked this movie! Why am I hating on it right now?) Thomson and Thompson were the reason I saw this movie initially. This is on me, but when I saw this movie for Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, I was hoping for more Edgar Wright. These characters are fine and I have to consider that they are in a kids' adventure movie. But there's nothing absolutely hilarious about them either. There are bits. Those bits are great. I really like the world that Tintin inhabits, but it's all just peeking under the hood instead of inhabiting this world. Maybe that's my complaint for a lot of Spielberg's later adventure stories. We get so much teasing and graphics, but none of it really feels lived in. I want to know Tintin closely. I want these characters to feel fleshed out; not with outrageous backstories, but with actual human interaction. We are told that Tintin is this great journalist / adventurer, but we don't get to experience Tintin as a human being. Indiana Jones was frustrated a lot of the time. We get to see what he's running away from. Tintin just kind of stumbles into adventure and continues his pursuit of it, regardless of consequence. I don't know. The thing is, I want more Tintin. There's something absolutely brilliant and it isn't being completely fed here. It's fun without the actual payoff that I need. Regardless, I had a good time. This entire review was me complaining about a movie that I enjoyed. But I also know why it might be hard to get a sequel off of the ground.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.