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Review: The Adventures of Tintin

PUBLISHED: 09:05 28 October 2011

Tintin (played by Jamie Bell), Haddock (played by Andy Serkis) and Snowy await rescue.

Tintin (played by Jamie Bell), Haddock (played by Andy Serkis) and Snowy await rescue.

Copyright© 2010 DW Studios L.L.C. All rights reserved.

There is always great trepidation whenever Hollywood announces an adaptation of a beloved character. When it is taking on the cartoon adventures of intrepid boy reporter Tintin, it is dabbling with cherished childhood memories.

But fans can relax because this potentially three-film collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson is as faithful and as loving as any of them could wish, which is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a strange marriage between cutting-edge technology — the whole thing is rendered in motion capture, computer animation, topped off with an ineffectual coating of 3D — and the most traditional of storytelling.

The joy of Hergé’s books is simplicity. The drawings were clean and clear, while the stories were straightforward tales of derring-do set in a world where foreign travel was in itself a great adventure.

Once upon a time Spielberg took the old thrills of Boy’s Own action serials and made them relevant for contemporary audience. Unlike Raiders, though, the pleasures of Tintin are mostly nostalgic and passive. It’s lovely to see seaplanes and deserts and foreign legion feature in a big screen adventure again but the project never really excites.

Partly this is down to the limitations of motion capture animation. However photorealistic it is, you never quite accept it as reality. As a result, there is nothing at stake, no jeopardy in the action sequences.

Also Tintin himself is a dull old stick, too strait-laced and humourless to engage. Jamie Bell gives him a voice which sounds like Ewan McGregor’s young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels and his dialogue is almost entirely exposition.

Unlike recent motion capture films such as A Christmas Carol and Beowulf, or even the little loved Mars Needs Moms, where you really felt like you watching an actor’s performance, here it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much more than the voices.

The project reminded me of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy which was sumptuous and groundbreaking and breathtaking but somehow never quite engaging.

You can do so much with this technology – you can make people laugh and fill them with wonder. But, as yet, you can’t coax them out to the edge of their seats.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: SECRET OF THE GOLDEN UNICORN (PG)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Toby Jones

Length: 107 mins

***

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