Now Playing: ‘Tintin’ Makes Mo-Cap Worthwhile

When I learned early on that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ was being animated via motion capture, I immediately began dreading the experience, mainly due to memories of Bob Zemeckis’ terrible ImageMovers mo-cap movies. Even when friends from the UK conveyed rave reviews for ‘Tintin’, I wasn’t fully on-board. Not until the foreign box office reflected a lot of love for the finished product did I began looking forward to it. Had I known then what I know now, ‘Tintin’ would have been one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

Spielberg and Jackson didn’t go the Zemeckis route for motion capture. They went the James Cameron ‘Avatar‘ route – and it’s awesome. Imagine the detail of Pixar’s CG animation used with mo-cap. That’s what you get with ‘Tintin’. The textures and details are exquisite, even in 3D. Considering how strong this first ‘Tintin’ film is, I now look forward to the second installment with the enthusiasm that I should have had for this first chapter all along.

For other Americans like me who were previously ignorant of the character, ‘Tintin’ is in no way connected with the dog series ‘Rin Tin Tin’. Yes, there’s a dog in ‘Tintin’, but it’s not the titular character. Tintin is a young reporter who tries to solve mysteries. His dog, Snowy, joins him for each mission. In this first film, they try to uncover the curse of the nautical Haddock family.

Imagine ‘Raider of the Lost Ark’ made with motion capture. It’s an adventure of memorable proportions that the entire family will enjoy. Spielberg and Jackson do creative things with ‘Tintin’ that you’re not used to seeing in animation –most notably a several-minute single-take action sequence that takes you in and out of destruction and danger.

Before taking kids to see the movie, beware of two things: 1) Captain Haddock is a constantly-drinking drunk, and 2) There’s intense danger around every corner. Many times, Tintin and Haddock find themselves dodging close-range fully automatic machine gun fire. This isn’t simply a kids’ movie. Like I said earlier, this is animated ‘Indiana Jones’. The threat of death is constant.

Child or not, if you love fun adventure flicks, ‘Tintin’ will be right up your alley. Take advantage of it finally opening in America and get out there to see it.

Rating: ★★★★☆


    • Luke Hickman

      ‘Tintin’ – but you really cannot compare the two. My ‘War Horse’ review will be online tomorrow morning.

  1. EM

    I just saw Tintin this morning, in 3D. Like Luke, I had my doubts, but it really is a fun roller coaster, wholesome if full of danger—replete with the best of that ’30s–’40s adventure idiom that Raiders of the Lost Ark recaptured so well. Milou a.k.a. Snowy is adorable without cloying preciosity. Human characters feel real, without that dead-eyed look that has plagued Zemeckis’ efforts.

    Tintin is also the most terrifying film of 2011. While none of the human characters are utterly photorealistic—indeed, there are touches of intentional cartooniness such as exaggerated noses and Tintin’s trademark cowlick—they are the most real-looking human animations I have ever seen. Rather than alienating me from the uncanny valley, they terrified me with the implications for fraud.

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