I have never read Tintin books. I think I have seen a few Tintin cartoons but don’t remember too much from them. I remember his pointy hair, the flash light and a white fluffy dog. Saw the animated movie version today and I am dearly regretting not reading those books, not watching the cartoons and I surely regret that I forgot about the amusing duo of Thompson and Thomson.
The movie does not spend any time in introducing many things. Within the first few minutes almost all major characters are brought to the screen or at least referenced by a major character with little to no background information. For instance, in a particularly short but revealing scene, a wall shows several awards and news paper clippings, each celebrating Tintin’s crime discoveries. For someone who does not know much about the series, I did not find this kind of screenplay uninformative in any way because Spielberg wields his magic with expert precision. The movie is an adventure, as suggested by the title, but not a cliché in any way, at least for me, because there is nothing in the move that distracted me from it. And this from a guy who can’t keep his focus if his life depended on it.
The movie is in gorgeous animation format – I watched it with the effects magnified by IMAX 3D – and there is not much ground to gain in this sector. The scenes are so realistic, barring the people who are intentionally made more comic book looking, that its hard to see where it can progress from here. There are shots of reflections caught in bubbles on the ocean surface, distorted human faces shown through glass bottles that are empty and sometimes half filled, objects hurtling on all kinds of surfaces from sand in Saharan desert to high-strung cables in Morocco, from rusty old ship to airplanes. One particular action sequence is sure to invoke comparisons to the break neck chase sequences from old Indiana Jones movies. In fact right after the action scene ended, I remember exactly thinking that it closely resembled chase sequences from Indiana Jones movies. It was brilliant is what I am trying to say here.
The story itself is, I am told, constructed from three different stories stitched at the right sections to make it into a standard length movie. I did not notice this while watching the movie because of the previously mentioned magic wielding by the director. The plot is nicely stitched together and with no noticeable flaws in logic and the dialogues are kept pretty much straight forward. For an almost-first-time viewer, like me, Tintin did not seem like a guy who makes sarcastic, unkind or even rude remarks at anyone. Captain Haddock lays out some profane-sounding-but-totally-family-friendly phrases but they are either a drunk slur or a thick Irish accent. Fun fact: Majority of field tests have proven that Irish accents and drunk slurs in any language are very much identical. In any case the writing is splendid and, barring some of the Captain’s lines, always progressing the plot. The place where the story starts or Tintin’s nationality and origins are kept unopened in the movie but you don’t really think about them until the movie is over. Again the credit for keeping us so engrossed in the story goes to the – say it with me – magic wielding by Spielberg.
One of the oddest thing about this story is the lack of female characters. There are only a few who even show up on-screen and only two of them get to speak lines. If you guessed that Tintin does not have lady in his life you are right (he is actually just a kid), but you may also rejoice in the fact that no other character has a marital partner either, unless you prefer to think that Thomson and Thompson have something going on.
I thought about how to finish this review. I did not want to say anything about the story, just because I don’t see why I should. I’ll say the movie has lots of action scenes. It employs impressive cinematography and exquisite quality of artwork. The story is thrilling and the sense of adventure lingers a bit even after you exit the theater. It’s an awesome movie.
I guess, if you don’t like awesomeness for any particular reason then don’t watch it. For the rest of you sane people, you really don’t have a choice.
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