Film has been wildly successful overseas, but critics wonder if it's worth the hype.
By Kevin P. Sullivan
"The Adventures of Tintin" Photo: Paramount
It has already made a killing overseas, but now it's time for "The Adventure of Tintin" to make a splash in the States. Though not as widely known in the U.S., Tintin has the help of two of today's most popular filmmakers, director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson.
The reviews are generally positive for "The Adventures of Tintin," with 75 percent of critics' approval, according to RottenTomatoes.com. We've taken our own sampling of the critical response, so here's a rundown on what they have to say.
" 'The Adventures of Tintin' derives mainly from three World War II-era books, 'The Crab With the Golden Claws,' 'The Secret of the Unicorn' and 'Red Rackham's Treasure.' These titles mean a great deal to Tintin's European fan base — the film has already made close to a quarter-billion dollars overseas — and less so to the average American multiplex visitor. The script, by Steven Moffat and the team of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish follows Tintin (who looks either 12, 22 or somewhere in between) and his faithful dog Snowy as they come into possession of a model sailing ship, the Unicorn, containing a clue to the whereabouts of a vast treasure. Kidnapped and bundled on board a steamship commanded by the career alcoholic Capt. Haddock, our boy-man hero becomes the pawn in an age-old duel between Haddock, a good old sot, and the sinister Sakharine." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
The Performance Capture
"I'm not one of those people with a knee-jerk disdain for motion capture (I enjoyed 'The Polar Express' and loved Jim Carrey in 'A Christmas Carol'), but in 'Tintin,' the technique that renders all that movement so flowing and frictionless also makes the characters come off as if their souls were made of sponge. Is this the 'uncanny valley' — the much-discussed phenomenon whereby motion-capture characters look just human enough so that what's missing from their eyes is subtly disquieting?" — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"I was surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. Spielberg not only uses 3-D but bases his story on one of Europe's most beloved comic characters. The 3-D he pulls off, just as Scorsese did in 'Hugo,' because he employs it as an enhancement to 2-D instead of an attention-grabbing gimmick." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"If the mocap technique falls somewhere between live-action and animated moviemaking, the same goes for the performances, which are altogether fluid yet sometimes (especially in certain dialogue-heavy sequences) give the impression of watching a very realistic video game with the sound turned up a few thousand notches. [Andy] Serkis ('King Kong,' 'The Lord of the Rings') nonetheless manages to turn Haddock into what will surely be the trilogy's most memorable personage, while [Jamie] Bell ('Billy Elliot') makes Tintin about as interesting as he can be, which is to say sometimes less so than his dog." — Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
The Final Word
"Though the acting is uniformly strong, the story just isn't engrossing, particularly for those not familiar with Tintin comics. There are a few spectacular scenes, such as a biplane flying into a lightning storm and a crash-landing in the Sahara, but the thrills are sporadic. Chases abound but none is breathtaking. ... The much-publicized collaboration between producer Peter Jackson and Spielberg sets high expectations. But while the technical artistry is there, the film lacks a sense of magic, intrigue and mystery." — Claudia Puig, USA Today