“Tintin” talkback

Our long national nightmare is almost over. The trailers and billboards for The Adventures of Tintin will start to disappear as the film opens today in the USA – and the manufactured enthusiasm starts to wind down.

This is not “the future of animation”. Mo-cap works for alien creatures, penguins and “apes”. It works for games. It will not replace human beings in narrative stories for motion pictures. I’m sure there are clever and correct uses for motion capture technology – outside of James Cameron (Avatar) and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), I haven’t seen it yet.

The Adventures of Tintin is a major letdown. Surprisingly, the core problem for me wasn’t the use of mo-cap, but the lack of empathy with the major characters. We are never properly introduced to Tintin, nor why we should care what happens to him. Or why he looks like that. Or has a gun.

The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly published reviews that summed up my feelings exactly. Even better, enjoy this review published in today’s The Detroit News:

Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ creates animated, nonstop, excruciating headache by Tom Long

A clamorous headache of a movie, it’s hard to say who the intended audience for “The Adventures of Tintin” might be.

Is it 60-year-olds who want to relive fond memories of a childhood hero? It’s hard to imagine today’s youth being taken with a youngster in knee-pants with a funny hair cut that looks plastered on.

Or is this a film for techno-geeks who want to see just how far director Steven Spielberg can push motion-capture animation? To answer that question, he can push it too far. “Tintin” is the sort of nonstop noise parade that quickly becomes exhausting rather than exciting.

You know how Harrison Ford sighed, pulled his gun and just shot a threatening bad guy in the first “Indiana Jones”? You want to do that to Tintin after about half an hour. And he’s the hero.

The plot is a mess, essentially just a set-up for scene after scene after scene after scene of animated stunts that have no real effect. It starts out with someone being murdered, then Tintin (Jamie Bell) gets kidnapped and taken aboard a boat where he teams up with a drunkard captain (Andy Serkis) to find clues to a sunken treasure, battling all the while with a dastardly bad guy (Daniel Craig).

This film offers no context – who is this Tintin guy; why does he dress like that; how come the kid wields guns; who pays for his stylist and why hasn’t that stylist been shot? Without knowing something about or caring about the character it’s hard to invest in the action, especially since it’s animated. It should be character first, then story, then action, but “Tintin” reverses all that to disastrous effect. You’re just plopped into an action-adventure story with a character you know nothing about.

Unless, of course, you’re that 60-year-old reliving fond memories of a childhood hero. In which case, well, have fun. But no one else will.

What did you think? Did you love it? Per our standard “talkback” rules, our comments section is only open to those who have actually seen the film. All other comments will be deleted.


  • http://www.gfxalchemist.com/ Eric Oliver

    Unfortunately Tin Tin lacked the character development to make it’s audience bond with the main character. I was waiting to find out about the story of the bond between the Snowy and Tin Tin. It seemed like the film was channeling Indiana Jones without the character development.

    I heard they combined three books into one movie, which can be a recipe for failure. After the first 20 minutes of the film, it just went off track into plot based story land. I look at mo-cap not being perfected as a great opportunity for unconquered territory. When any part of the medium is pushed to a really high level, it seems to start getting cheapened out by products which proceed it, until it’s no longer looked at as a viable option.

    • Ergo

      It’s Tintin, not “Tin Tin”. Like most names, it’s a single word.

      I always thought Tintin was a tough sell for a feature film, let alone a franchise, because people expect character development, but that’s not what Tintin is. What you know about him is as much as you’ll ever know, as aside from “Tintin in Tibet”, his stories aren’t driven by character.

      • http://www.gfxalchemist.com/ Eric Oliver

        Yeah, it doesn’t work for a traditional movie regardless

  • Bill

    Not quite 60, but I did know and enjoy the stories as a kid. I was deeply disappointed with the animated series. The series repeated beats every 10 minutes. I thought this film did a much better job of keeping the formula going over a feature.

    I hate 3-D except for theme park rides, but I thought this film made good use of the gimmick in some very active sequences. Spielberg was having way too much fun moving the CG camera around bringing too much attention to the technique instead of trusting the story – much the way shakey camera shows jar you out of the suspension of disbelief just to point out that there is some guy hand holding a heavy camera.

    Jerry is right about motion capture. The Tin-tin character is as dead-eyed as the Polar Express kid, and the character animation is as phoney as the very first CG experiments. It does work better for cartoony characters. Having seen the “test” at Comic Con with Andy Serkis as Haddock in makeup, I wish the film had been done that way instead. Seeing 3-D noses a foot long jut out of the screen was disturbing. A brief 2-D clip I saw worked better and the noses didn’t seem as ridiculous.

    The story was obvious, but fun. I particularly enjoyed the revelation of why Haddock was the only one who could solve the puzzle. I look forward to future “episodes” when Spielberg or Peter Jackson are a bit more restrained using their new toys.

  • Murphy

    The whole thing seemed like Spielberg was trying to channel Baz Luhrman.

  • Rick R.

    I have seen the film, and I wouldn’t be as harsh on it as Jerry, but I do agree the pacing was exhausting and the film does assume you know who he is. For the record, I vaguely know him, heard of him in my childhood as a trivia question more than as a hero.

    The pacing was on par with the last Indiana Jones movie, which was also over the top and not as fun as Spielberg’s older stuff. Spielberg’s strength as a director is the slower bits, like Robert Shaw talking about the ship that went down in WWII in Jaws, or the love scene on the boat in Raiders where Marion was alternately helping and beating up Indy. Too bad Steven seems to have forgotten how to tie those into his non-drama stories. But since the current Doctor Who has similar problems, I’ll guess Steven Moffat’s script was an influence there.

    Jamie Bell was Tintin, not Elijah Wood, though? Okay… maybe it was the Serkis influence, but for me Tintin I woulda swore Tintin was Frodo. I kept waiting for Ian McKellen to be in the voice cast.

    Tintin had some nice moments though, like Bill said. I felt kinda invested in the Haddock/bad guy story, and I liked the dog.

  • U.S. Tintin fan

    I saw a 2-d advanced screening of the film. I thought it stayed very true to the spirit of the books and the characters, I recognized a lot of sight gags from the comics and they seemed to have translated them well into animation. Although I probably would have preferred either live action or maybe even 2-d animation, the mo-cap didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Is that because I’m a major fan willing to overlook things for the sake of enjoying Tintin on the bigscreen? Maybe. My only small gripe is that some of the characters seemed to “float” in certain scenes. As for Speilberg and his magic flying camera, the Tintin comics were quite cinematic, I think Herge would have been intrigued by the way this movie was filmed.

    As for that review, it is truly awful, to be honest. I understand if he didn’t like the film, but he also seems to have little to no respect for the Tintin franchise and it’s millions of fans the world over. It’s the fact that he insists that any Tintin fan is “over 60″ and that “modern” kids would never be intrigued by a character like Tintin. WHY? Because he’s not some snarky arrogant pop culture reference spewing machine, like the kind spawned and weaned on the web, like the reviewer seems to be?

    I’m only 25, but I’ve loved the Tintin books since I discovered them as a child. They are great books full of wonderful characters, lots of action and great physical comedy. I’ve been hoping against hope that this movie revives interest in the Tintin universe, especially in the United States. I think kids need a good hero like Tintin to inspire them to be more heroic and brave, instead of some aggressively “hip” franchise that plays to their baser instincts. I understand if fellow Tintin fans or even animation fans don’t appreciate the way this film was animated, or motion referenced. Yes,in a perfect world there would be a perfect Tintin film. But really, it was leagues above what I was expecting, and I would encourage people to give it a chance, if only to open up modern kid’s eyes to a great cartoon franchise they might never have heard about otherwise. We are all cartoon fans after all.

    • http://dokdibujos.blogspot.com/ Dokeck

      I agree with age, Im 31 and Tintin was the first comic my parents exposed me to and Im not even european (although my granthmother was). Is just one of those titles along with Asterix and Disney comics that can be transmited from one generation to another when they are parent-kids.
      It seems that was not the case with that critic.
      To stay on topic: I enjoyed the movie, but probably because I loved the franchise, it needed more space between all the action.

  • Barney Miller

    Spielberg is normally restrained in his filmmaking. It’s one of the reasons I like his best films so much. I don’t mean he’s boring, it’s just that, even in his lesser films (mostly), the action is clear and entertaining. Tintin plays like a pre-viz neophyte’s wet dream. The camera is all over the place, even in quiet, expositional sequences. Not that it really matters, because the rules of the world change so much, you don’t know if he wanted to make a photo real action movie or a slapstick, 30s style animated romp.

    One scene in particular revolves around the supposed life threatening peril created when Tintin is thrown from the cockpit of a plane and is sliding toward the propeller. We’re supposed to be on the edge of our seats as Tintin’s head is nearly cut off. At the last second, Haddock accidentally scoops him out of the way, gets sucked into the propellor and whipped around like Daffy in a Clampett cartoon!!!!

    They spent all this time building “realistic” characters and adding a buttload of lens flares, only to break the entire consistency of the world they created.

    I’ve got a feeling Spielberg just looked at Tintin dailies on the set of War Horse, while his pre-viz team directed the film. Really disappointing.

  • captain baldsworth

    not explaining who tintin is in the comics worked wonderfully; the reader just became the hero and that was that. film is such a completely different animal! that’s why films of books have a hard time; sometime they work, sometime they don’t. with film, you have another language than comics, and some things need to be explained. then there is the problem of rhythm: it’s chaos. considering that spielberg and jackson are involved here, this is a stunning wreck.

  • Dave

    Plusses: Close to the feel of original Tintin stories, good set pieces and action sequences, fun use of flashback, nice comedic beats

    Minuses: Mocap, Camera-of-God, fluffy.

    Heartbreaker: Trading in Hergé’s clean-lined style for the semi-realism of the film.

    • http://www.gfxalchemist.com/ Eric Oliver

      Yeah, that’s was the main thing that bothered me.

  • http://www.gloriousbounty.com Edward J Grug III

    I am only 31 and I am Australian, which is a country that has had Tintin for a long time and knows him well.

    I LOVED the movie. It might be my favourite of the year. I did see it in a 3D theatre, though I am almost blind in one of my eyes and don’t actually see 3D. Nevertheless, I enjoyed almost every minute of the film, felt it stayed very true to the source material and dropped a lot of great references for the fan.

    My wife had never read a Tintin book and she also loved the film. In fact, she has now started reading the series.

    Sorry you guys didn’t like it.

  • tonk82

    The main complain is about Tintin hmself? Well… tintin is like… he is in the comics, nothing more, nothing less.

    He was always an average reporter involved in adventures bigger than life.He is just a path to tell the story.

    Everybody else has 100% charisma: haddock, the brothers, milú (the dog)… and Tintin is what makes everything work.

    It’s not like you are suppossed to know who Tintin is, he is exactly what the movie shows.

    A lot of people think that the movie was released in Europe first, because Tintin is not very well known in the United States. This kind of review shows something more… a lot of american critics seem unable to understand Tintin and the movie at all. It’s sad. Loved the movie when it was released here in Spain.

  • Brian Kidd

    I know very little about Tintin, so I can’t comment on how true the film was to the source material. All I can do is judge it as a film and, as such, I felt it was a failure. The plot was wafer-thin and the characters even more-so. There were times where I actually had trouble figuring out why they were going to the different locations. I thought Andy Serkis did the best job of any of the actors at creating a charming character. The mo-cap didn’t bother me. I felt it works fine for an adventure story. I just felt like the film was let down by the lack of characterization. For those of you saying, “The original comics don’t have deep characterization,” that’s fine. Films are a different medium, however, and the script should have been adjusted accordingly. I felt like I wasted $24 taking my son, although he seemed to be okay with it.

  • James

    I just got back from seeing Tintin and, leaving out the problems I had with how Spielberg handled the story, here is my PERSONAL OPINION on the “animation”:

    I think there was a lot of good stuff going for this film on the technical side. However: The one “mocappy” problem that still plagues it is… THOSE DANG EYES. All the characters, especially Tintin himself felt like they were just staring off into space. Rarely did I see the characters make any eye contact and it was very off-putting and strange. It pulled me out of the film. There’s a simple solution: make the eyes BIGGER for one and let the animators go in and put in those essential eye darts and blinks that bring LIFE to the eyes. Like they did with ‘Avatar’. Don’t just touch up the facial capture data. It’s not enough.

    So yeah, I think keyframe animators can breath steady about their jobs for a while.

    Now the positives: the animal animation was fantastic. Snowy the dog looked awesome. So did the Falcon. The facial and body animation on the humans is leaps and bounds over Beowulf and Mars Needs Moms. Despite the eyes, the characters actually have some expression in their faces. It’s a step in the right direction but there is a lot of work to be done.

  • Josef

    I thought the film was excellent and true to the source material. And who does action/adventure as well as Spielberg? The action sequences were just amazing. I kind of expected a negative response here because I understand the bitterness toward mo-cap, but if you didn’t like it, your in the minority here. I went to 2 screenings and everyone loved it. This is a great film.

    • Snagglepuss

      I agree, I loved the flick and you seem to have cherry picked some of the negative reviews. AV Club gave it a B+, and Ebert, an active opponent of both 3D and mocap gave it 3.5 stars.

  • http://elioliart.com Some Girl

    Just watched it! I have to disagree on a lot of what Jerry said. If you ever have watched the documentary of Herge and the concept of Tintin called “Tintin and I”, you will learn that yes, Tintin has an unknown back story. His character is supposed to be Herge himself, wishing to be that adventurer. Tintin can be replaced with all of us, the adventurer in all of us. His personality may be “dead pan”, but it was the thrill for Herge and the reader of the comics to imagine himself into the extraordinary world on Tintin.

    So..that explains a bunch on why Jerry is so confused, which many will be if they do not know the intention of the character itself.

    Now, for the animation. Mo- cap is mo-cap, so yes, it may have it’s share of moments of eeriness. BUT, I for one, looked passed that and saw some really great characters. Maybe not fully fleshed out in personality, which was ok. I don’t have to know a back story for everyone. This may not be the best movie for 3D, with all the fun action, it can get a little , dizzy? And I wouldn’t go far to call it a waste of money. It was well worth it, even my parents enjoyed it.

    As for this whole eye issue, it is not as bad as some people make it out to be. It was actually pretty lifelike, you know, it had life in them. Especially some of Tintin’s excited expressions, the eyes gleamed.

    As for story, I admittingly have not yet to read the comics, but I thank the movie for sparking my interest to buy the comics, discover more about the adventures, and anxiously await the sequel.

    It is impossible not to have fun, well in this case, crack a smile in this film. Like some of the dialog in the movie, I guess I am not a realist, but an optimist. Going with the intentions to point out the technicalities in a film and not really focusing on the “just going to enjoy a good movie” aspect, then I won’t be surprised if you left disappointed.
    And regarding the story, the movie is close to what I have read so far, loyal to the 3 books that were used to be in this one film of hopefully many others (2). But things have to be tweaked, as for any comic/book adaption, for it to be easy to follow and interesting for the casual viewer, A.K.A., not the Tintinologist.

    Just to put it short: It’s fun, action packed, intriguing, humorous, and it was not creepy like Polar Express.
    I think some of the critics are being a tad bit too harsh on this film, many pointing out more of the technical aspects.

    Oh, and if any of you are wondering, he gets his trademark quiff from riding on a motorcycle from a chase in one of the first books, but it never goes back down.
    (1929′s The Land of The Soviets)

    And he has a gun, because, well, why wouldn’t you if you were in his shoes? Don’t ask questions, and just enjoy the movie.
    I recommend it. Go buy the books while your at it. :)

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I had a wonderful time watching the film today myself and felt if i hadn’t known about Tintin at all before going in, I would’ve still enjoyed it equally for much the same reason if I thought of the main guy as myself in that scenario!

  • Bud

    MOCAP or not, the film is very weak. The action scenes are fun for a moment, but get tiresome fast. There is little character development, and less character animation. Everyone moves precisely the same, and the movement illuminates nothing about the characters. It’s also all very “weightless,” especially that dog. To be honest, the whole thing felt like a long trailer for a video game, not a movie. Seeing as spielberg knows next to NOTHING about animation, it’s no surprise.

    • Matt

      The guy behind Animaniacs and Tiny Toons knows nothing about animation. OK, yeah, sure..

  • Parker

    To each his own, I personally enjoyed the movie despite some quibbles. But Jerry, how can call the movie a “major letdown” if you’ve done nothing to suggest that you actually thought you would have liked it.

  • crabjuice

    I’m a bit ambivalent about it.

    One one hand, it’s a good action film, for kids. On the other hand, I couldn’t get past the ugly visuals. While I don’t agree that Tintin himself was dead eyed (in fact, in terms of realistic CG characters, he’s without a doubt the best one I have ever seen. Miles ahead of garbage like Polar Express).

    Tintin is one of the most beloved comics in the world, I don’t think that we need to introduce him and really define who he is. Who cares about why he has that haircut? That’s how he was designed! It’s irrelevant, we knew what we needed to know, and in that regards, they stayed true to the spirit of the original comic, I’m actually grateful they didn’t try to modernize the protagonist’s character. It’s such a rare thing in adaptations nowadays.

    While the plot was changed a lot from the comic book, it was actually well done, most of the time. They didn’t add too much and removed a lot of verbosity that wouldn’t have translated well into film.

    The action was well done, but I find that having it ‘animated’ didn’t work so well, especially when you’re aiming for realistic visuals. That being said, the chase scenes were really creative, but not as impressive as they would have been in live action…

    But to me, where the film falls flat is in the character design. Why is Tintin the only goodlooking person in that universe? He looks ‘human’, whereas all the other characters have grotesque deformities that are only emphasized but the hyperrealistic skin texture… The characters didn’t look like they were from the same movie. Another one of the most bothersome things to me was Captain Haddock’s eyes. They’re surrounded by old man skin, wrinkles and blemishes everywhere, but why the hell did they have a perfect almont shape with well-kept eyelashes that you would only find on a teenager? If you’re gonna bother going through all the trouble of making realistic skin, get the damn eye structure right! But the worst design of all has to be Milou (Snowy). It didn’t look like a dog, it didn’t even look like a deformed dog, I don’t know what it looked like, but it was dislocated, and it was ugly.

    Another weak point of the film, just like almost anything with cg-animated: moving camera. It’s overdone, it’s confusing, and it’s bothersome to see a never-ending, 2km zoom that goes through all kinds of materials. When there’s no action, you don’t need to move the camera around like crazy. A static shot with a strong composition can be much more beautiful than an ineptly-done, unjustified camera wiggling. It’s a shame that it’s such a common occurrence in 3d films….

    All this to say, I think I would have enjoyed the film as a kid. But now, I’m too bothered by the visuals to really get into it. Could have been a great live action film, or even a great animated film had the designs been more cohesive and less over-rendered…

  • Sam

    This is a good film. I have long been against the use of mo-cap, but I have to say they’ve made big improvements especially in the expressiveness of character faces, though it’s obviously still not perfect. I was okay with not knowing too much about Tintin’s background for now, it was a unique approach to character introduction as we learned about him from his actions during his adventures. The sense of wonder and adventure that Spielberg infuses the film with lift it above the vast majority of the trite animation we got this year (Cars 2, Rio, Kung Fu Panda 2). The spectacle actually feels larger than life. No one can do it quite like him.

    • http://www.gfxalchemist.com/ Eric Oliver

      Yeah, although there were many films, this may not have been a good year for big budget animated films interms of overall content.

  • Josh Bowman

    As a 28 year old Australian who DEVOWERED Tintin when i was 14 i don’t think this reporter knows what he’s talking about.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    2D version here.
    Bowled over by the technical quality.
    Film itself was not engaging but I can see that some people will like it.
    I kept asking myself, though: ‘Why was this animated?”.
    It seems wrong-headed and odd.
    What the hey, I hope it succeeds…

    • Snagglepuss

      Ahhhh, see, I got the mo cap. Some of those sequences seem pretty damn difficult to pull off in live action, even with computers. Not because they’re complex but because they’re silly. Heck, the characters themselves are silly. Altman’s Popeye was fun, but it came off campier than it should have been. The mocap, whatever problems it may have had, I think wasn’t an awful choice.

      If you want a clear lined Herge Tintin, there are a ton of choices already created, but I think its telling that most of them are accepted as pretty mediocre.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/animationinventory Teodor

    Spielberg just can not admit that Douglas Slocombe was better for him.

    I do not like the fact that he in this want to achieve Janusz Kaminski s photography/or maybe accidentally looks like/.

  • lola

    Probably my favorite film of 2011 (hell, probably my favorite film in the past few years). I’ve always felt at odds with mo-cap stuff but they REALLY pulled it off well here. I don’t understand how people could think that the characters looked dead-eyed unless it was just because they had small eyes (which was a nice change of pace compared to what you always see from Pixar, Disney, Blue Sky, etc). Tintin looked FANTASTIC, as someone else mentioned earlier he was just like he was in the comics, no more no less, and everyone else had fantastic personalities. Especially Haddock. The action sequences were fun and engaging and damn, I didn’t want to blink during some of those things.

    Some people are turned off by it because the designs are ‘ugly’ but that’s what’s giving it a different appeal from the other CG movies coming out. It’s a completely different style that stands out on its own without people going “Oh is that Pixar? No, Blue Sky? Whatever.” And I’ve always been reading about people not understanding if it was a kid’s movie or a movie for adults – Guess what? It’s for everyone! My theater had a couple of families with kids and they were freakin’ LOVING it.

    I personally love this merging between live action and animation and hope I can take part in creating something as entertaining and ‘risky’ as this. My only problem was the design of Snowy/Milou (he was the only ‘dead-eyed’ character) but in the midst of so many stronger characters I barely paid any attention to that in the end.

    Overall it was great. I think it should win the oscar for best animated feature but it probably won’t. Spielberg did a fantastic job.

  • Maurice

    I just watched this film and it’s a mess. Fidelity to the source material isn’t an excuse for making a poor film, and viewers shouldn’t be required to understand or have familiarity with the source material in order to enjoy it.

    Removed from the constraints of live actors and physical cameras, Spielberg loses all sense of proportion and makes a film that has gone overboard on everything EXCEPT charm, style and comic timing. It’s a tendency he exhibited as far back as “1941″ and resurfaced with “Temple of Doom”. Keep the man away from animation, because he loses all self control.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    It wasn’t without its flaws, but I actually enjoyed this one a lot more than Avatar. It had humor, the characters were likeable (and I don’t care we weren’t introduced to who was Tintin) and most of it was true to the original. It was a little too action-packed and some of the action was too extreme and surreal. The comics are more classic and the pacing is more relaxed. The final battle in the movie didn’t feel like something Herge would do.

    Also the camera movements were a little too much. I thought the mo-cap was ok, didn’t love the visuals, didn’t hate them either. I wasn’t really thinking about the way it looked too often, which I thought it was a good thing. When I watched Beowulf I couldn’t concentrate in the plot because of the strange visuals. Coming back to Tintin, I really liked the transitions between scenes, I thought those were beautifully done.

    Also, I’d add Pirates Of Caribbean 2 and 3 and Lord Of The Rings as good uses of mo-cap.

  • Lib

    What I’m going to write may sound harsh, but so has been every single post about this film ever written on this blog, to the point that the criticisms have just become a parody of themselves. Especially after an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the European audiences in the first talkback two months ago.

    I honestly don’t get the hatred towards this film around here. It’s so out of proportion and shamefully prejudiced that, quite frankly, it sounds more like an angsty teenage rant than the educated comment I’d like to expect from film historians. Over several months, I’ve witnessed how this film was being mercilessly attacked, from the moment we got the first stills to the first trailer, as if there was some sort of twisted predisposition to hate it just because, regardless of whether the material being shown was looking better or worse.

    Criticizing this movie based on an embarrassingly obvious lack of familiarity with the Tintin universe, and worse, an absolute disinterest in embracing it, further proves that much of the backlash just responds to heavily biased assumptions that many stubbornly refuse to abandon. I read comments about the dreadful dead eyes of motion captured characters that some people think the Tintin characters share, yet those people fail to realize that there’s a very decent chunk of the audience that thinks otherwise. So even if for whatever reason, anyone thought that Tintin and Haddock looked like Tom Hanks in the Polar Express, it’s only fair to admit that a significant improvement must have been made, since unlike with those old Zemeckis films, this one got the audience divided about the subject for the first time.

    I started as a skeptic myself, but I grew over that feeling as I saw the first trailers, and today, after watching the movie, I can say that The Adventures of Tintin not only is easily the best animated film of the year, but one of the best films of the year overall. Where some claim to see a nonstop noise parade I saw masterfully planned sequences that felt completely coherent and visually exciting every second they lasted, camera transitions that put to shame every other major film released this year, a wonderfully calculated pacing like the world hasn’t seen since the original Indiana Jones movies, and a beautifully respectful adaptation of Hergé’s memorable comics. But above all, what I’ve seen is a damn fun film.

    I wish more projects like this were representative of what animated features have to offer, but I guess some people rather have an endless supply of talking animals stupidly dancing to the latest teen pop hit.

  • Jaktheparrot

    Complaining about Tintin’s hairstyle and the fact the story doesn’t explain why he dresses like that makes this whole review rediculous.

  • http://popyea.deviantart.com/ nick

    I’m 19 and used to read lots of tintin comics as a kid. That and Asterix made up the majority of comics in the school library. What a horrible exaggeration.

    On another note, the only reason this example of mo-cap seems to be a step forward is because it doesn’t just rely on the technology and create scans of the actor’s faces. When is the industry going to do a full turn around and go back to doing everything manually? Stop taking shitty, uncanny shortcuts.

  • Rad

    So basically the reviewer says: Help! The protagonist has no character arc! I don’t know what to do with that, it’s against the rules – it must be bad!
    I really enjoyed the film. It lacked all the useless baggage of most animated films – endless exposition to fill in the protagonist’s background and explain his quest to prove himself to his father (a must-have trope it seems). Tintin is just Tintin. Do you ask how Popeye became a sailor or why is Bugs Bunny sometimes a rabbit and other times a hare? I don’t need to see Tintin’s biography and family tree to emphasise with him. I’m not marrying him!
    I loved the film – great use of 3D, excellent reinterpretation into the medium of CG animation, lots of humour and a snappy story and dialogue. I’m not 60 and I’ve never read a Tintin comic in my life.

  • Damon

    Saw the film, it was okay, nothing too special. I had some fun with it.

    It’s kind of ironic that the same day Brad Bird makes the very successful leap over to live action.

  • Murray Bain

    action packed,it invoked the feeling of the books(which taught me to read!), mashed up with raiders. Some great set action pieces and slapstick but The lack of females and the comical alcoholism made it feel very dated, but hey, at least they didn’t put the slightly racist characters in.
    I felt like I was watching a console game cinematic from 2 years in the future, anyone who’s played the uncharted series knows this is the case.
    I know harrison ford is on the hood of that speeding truck, is that why it’s exciting? He’s a guy I can root for. Jamie bell probably would of been too,sweating it in the Tunisian desert.They are getting closer though.

  • Chris

    The biggest problem the film had was with just needing a change of pace (in my opinion)- just a breather from the frenetic action would have been great, and would have been a chance to give people chance to appreciate the characters more and let them sink in. The characters were there- Tintin in his original character, Haddock was particularly well shown- the whole of the story is based on him- something the reviewer was clearly blind to.

    Tintin himself has no hidden traumatic past and isn’t the usual animated staple of ‘outsider trying to live their dream/be themselves/insert contrast with world here’ which we’ve seen a million times now. He’s just a normal guy, being determined, upbeat and resourceful.

    I can’t stand dead eye mo-cap whatsoever, but was pleased that there was only one expression in this film that looked a little vacant- and that was probably because it was meant to be. And the fact the mo-cap format was used to push scene transitions and the action scenes beyond live action constraints was brilliant and brilliantly handled.

    In fairness, the reviewer doesn’t seem willing to give any positives about the film to begin with, and seems to want to know the hair styling histories of film characters (I know character profiles can be in depth, but come on), and misses character history through the news-clippings close-ups and character revealed through action.

    I came away with the impression this was better than it would have been, had it been done in 2D drawn animation. Although I’d love someone to prove me wrong by making that version.

  • whofan

    That’s now three European institutions Steven “Muppet” has ruined! Tintin, Doctor Who and Sherlock HOlmes.

    • Ergo

      I could not disagree more, but to each their own.

      • swac

        I’ll take Moffat’s Sherlock over the Robert Downey Jr. version any day.

  • Al

    Bad review by someone who doesn’t know anything about Tintin.
    Spielberg and Jackson have always respected the original material. Lord of the rings is a pretty good example for Jackson.

    It’s not perfect but it’s good.
    Maybe the critic doesn’t have a big culture in regards to european comics and it shows how ignorant he is.

    The reference to age is also proof that he doesn’t what he’s talking about.

    As for the looks. Well it is inspired by the comic so what did you expect? A captain america look?

    I don’t mind critics that have valid points but this is crap by someone without any knowledge at all.

  • Laura

    I rather disagree with Jerry and Mr. Long, but not for the same reasons as others seem to be listing.

    I was never a huge fan of Tintin and I’m always the first to speak up in an argument against MoCap, primarily because everyone who’s used it has taken the verisimilitude setting and put it to “Uncanny Valley” with a side of dead-eyes. Zemeckis has done a lot to foster hatred for the technique because, well, look at the stuff he makes; Nobody knows what to do with a movie that’s made up of what looks like ultra-high-tech XBox 360 cutscenes, and with the rather shoddy quality of writing in MoCap movies so far, this weird mix of visual quality (or at least exactitude) and poor storytelling makes the whole effect rather unappetizing, if not repellent.

    Dragged as I was by a genuinely-excited brother to an advance screening (trust me, I’d have steered clear of this thing if it hadn’t been for that) I was expecting more of the same too-much-yet-not-nearly-enough that I’d seen in the Polar Express and Beowulf. It was 3D, so count my expectations as even lower than usual.

    To say that these expectations were surpassed, therefore, by the first few minutes of the film speaks very little to the film’s quality; it does, however, mean that unless the non-mocap elements (like CG Snowy or the stylized facial features) suddenly vanished from the screen or the same gimmicky approach to 3D that Zemeckis has touted began to appear, this already was, if not a good film, then at least a watchable one.

    Swift pacing and a well-written plot (I’m a firm believer that a good film explains the characters through the action of the film, not formal exposition) as well as the sort of action one expects from Spielberg adventures only made the film go down easier. I believed in the characters, and whether they were animated or live action didn’t matter. Furthermore, where the MoCap failed to capture an expression, the animation softened the blow.

    I personally don’t believe MoCap should be considered animation, much less in the same category as traditional hand-drawn or CG, nor do I believe it counts as live action: rather, MoCap is a technique that creates its own category, and plays by its own guidebook.

    So far, the standard has been Zemeckis’ sickening realism, an attempt to make subjects easily addressed in live action somehow more magic by coating everything ostensibly in a layer of wax; however, with stories like Tintin, where there is a mix of the fantastical and dead-serious (much like Herge’s stylized, flat yet incredibly detailed artwork) MoCap actually finds itself a niche. It’s not for every subject nor for every viewer, but when it works, I’m forced to concede that it really does sing.

    Here’s hoping that there will be a sequel–perhaps this development of MoCap as a highly specialized third technique, not as an alternative to animation or live action, will continue, and directors will make better selections of subject when attempting to use it.

  • http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.com MooCartoon

    All in all, Spielberg’s first animated project is a wonderful whirlwind of an adventure which truly harkens back to the olden days of Indiana Jones…but funnier. The set pieces are a joy to behold, and the pacing is so perfect that as soon as you want another dose of action, the film will gladly oblige. If you’re looking for a wholesome adventure that doesn’t skimp on the production value, check it out. And if you’re not familiar with these characters, there’s no better time then now to get acquainted.

    Check out my full review at: http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.com/2011/12/adventures-of-tintin-secret-of-unicorn.html

  • whoiseyevan

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been playing in Asia for a while now, and everyone I know who has seen the movie, enjoyed it a lot too. A bunch of them have even watched it twice.

  • Bob

    After The Artist, my favorite movie of the year.

  • Rajesh

    I thought the mo-cap animation felt like a big-budget Robot Chicken – just plain stiff. Especially on Snowy.

    But I enjoyed the ‘story’ regardless. This reviewer is trying to generalize what happens to be his personal taste in movies. Personally, everything he happens to require in a good movie I find to be a cliche and unnecessary waste of time.

    Seriously, explaining a hairstyle?? I guess Kung Fu Panda should have to explain why pandas are black and white.

    And Mr. Tom Long will have to explain the origin of his last name before I can relate to him.

    • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

      Snowy was hand-keyed.

      • Rajesh

        Robot Chicken is “hand keyed” too. It’s stiff as well.

  • Grumpy Animator

    I loved it.

    The best motion capture film I have ever seen. You really felt every punch in the film and the weight and space that the characters occupy, which is something that previous mo-cap films have all been missing dreadfully.

    This film is a landmark in stop motion not because of any advances in technology simply because a director has made the film using the technique properly rather than showcasing it and hoping it will make up for poor direction.

    People who are expecting great things from mo-cap should start expecting great things from the directors rather than the technique and technology. Spielberg delivered.

  • The Obvious

    There’s something extremely provincial about the cited review, and the position and general tenor of this animated feature’s coverage on this site. It’s as if the critical analysis of “The Adventures of Tintin” is confirmation of a complete inability to approach animated films based on American pop culture from a similar ‘outsiders’ perspective.

    Imagine the questions an audience might have watching a film like “The Incredibles” if they were unfamiliar with decades of comic book superhero lore? ‘Why do these people have these strange abilities?’ ‘Why do they wear spandex, and find capes silly?’ It’s as if it is okay to have unexplained ‘in-jokes’ and put on blinders, as long as the stories are about American pop culture and as long as they reinforce its value system.

    If we applied the same standards to our comic book derived films, we certainly wouldn’t say things like this: “THE INCREDIBLES is hands-down, without contest, the most entertaining animated feature I’ve ever seen. Yes, let me repeat that: THE MOST ENTERTAINING ANIMATED FEATURE I’VE EVER SEEN.”

    I’ve seen “The Adventures of Tintin,” and it’s thrilling adventure fare, and a beautifully crafted visual work. As a Tintin fan, I don’t consider any adaptation, of a singular bande dessinée work like “The Adventures of Tintin”, to be able to replicate the qualities of such an utterly different visual art form.

    What I did expect to see was the film Hergé might have envisioned Spielberg making after seeing “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It is not a stretch for me to imagine that he would have enjoyed the result.

    This is a visually breathtaking film, and, like “Rango”, it has rough edges and sequences that you don’t expect to see in American animated films (like a bullet riddled character leaving a clue in his own blood). If you read some of the more astute criticisms of European critics, they raise concerns over the appearance of a narrative emphasis on material wealth being the focus of the heroes’ quest.

    Mo-cap doesn’t seem to keep them up nights, but neither do the nuances of superhero angst, or the identity crisis that a mass-produced plastic toy goes through.

    Thank you for reading, and God bless America.

  • http://she-thing.blogspot.com Caty

    The only good thing I found it to be fun on that movie is that they added boobs to that black-bearded guy. The rest… is just things happen because they have to happen, just like Spielberg likes it. Some people enjoy that style, others don’t. I’m not one of those, heh… I’m more fan of the people who put a bit of energy and spirit on the character. Anyway. I was always more of Sempé-Goscinny-Franquin-Uderzo kind. I find Tintin just too static.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Yeah, “Comic-Dynamic” has it’s admirers.

      • http://she-thing.blogspot.com Caty

        Wellllllp.. to be a “comic-dynamic admirer” is quite relative, isn’t it?
        Mignola is “static” and he has the power of the comic all over the place. Moebius in Blueberry is not the master of animation and it’s full of movement. Tintin is just… nothing. From my point of view, it’s the worst example to adapt and animate- because the maximum movement you’re going to see is the one printed on the page. You can’t imagine because the artist already created the world for you and you can’t realise because it’s not moving and it is real. Plus the so-so dialogues. What’s the point? They make cute toys though.

  • Barney Miller

    To write off someone’s opinion of the film just because they dont’t “get” the source material is ridiculous. Either the film works or it doesn’t. Also, as we all know, just because a film makes a lot of money, doesn’t mean it’s good either.

    When Tim Burton’s Batman came out in ’89 it made tons of money and received generally positive reviews. I believe, in large part, because Batman is considered a cultural icon and people were just jazzed to see that character in a movie. I look back at that film now and am actually shocked that it received such a positive reaction.

    In a similar fashion, I believe Tintin’s success in Europe has a lot to do with the nostalgic reaction people are having to seeing the character on the big screen. Most of the people who have posted positive reviews on CB so far, first site their love for the source material- which makes me believe that this is indeed driving some of the positive reaction.

    Contradictory to this, most of my European friends who grew up with Tintin hated the film for not living up to their experience of Herge’s original stories. Interesting indeed.

    As I didn’t grow up on Tintin, I can only react to the film based on what I see. I have to say I did not enjoy the film at all. Spielberg’s normal restraint, one of his greatest strengths as a filmmaker, is totally absent. It’s as if he only watched dailies while on the set of War Horse and left most of the “direction” up to a neophyte pre-viz crew. The camera is all over the place and I actually found it quite hard to track characters in the action. Another reason Spielberg is normally so adept at shooting action is because he spends so much time establishing believable characters that feel as though they could get hurt. The action set pieces in Indy are successful because you believe Indy could either get horribly wounded or even die. Because he is such a likable character you don’t want to see him get hurt.

    The Tintin from the film is so flat and uninteresting that I don’t really care if he fails, succeeds, lives or dies. Even if Tintin had been imbued with likable qualities it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I never feel like these characters could actually get wounded. One minute Tintin and Haddock are treated as photorealistic characters, rendered in meticulous detail. The next minute their whipping around in airplane propellers like Donald Duck in a Clampett cartoon.

    That inconsistency is my main gripe and why I was almost instantly taken out of the film.

    Having said all that, I’m glad that several Tintin fans seem to have gotten their wishes fulfilled and get to enjoy one of their favorite characters up on the big screen. There are certainly worse films out there at the moment… I’m talking to you NEW YEAR’S EVE!

  • http://she-thing.blogspot.com Caty

    P.S. Not wanting to be a negative smartypants, but- I found much more exciting the persecution of Po and the Wolf in Kung Fu Panda 2 than with Tintin’s in Morocco. There was something quite boring on the whole aspect of the movie.

  • http://kristiosketches.tumblr.com/ Kristi O

    Have to admit, this is another one of those times that Cartoon Brew has kinda made me feel guilty for liking something, but it all comes down to opinion, and it’s hard to really argue for why I liked the film when I can’t fully explain why I did. I saw Tintin last night with a friend and enjoyed it pretty well. As a fan of the comics I was tentatively looking forward to the film, being apprehensive about the mo-cap.

    Honestly though I really liked the film. I don’t want to go full out and say I loved it since I might still be on that pleasant high you get after seeing a movie, give it a little time to let the ‘glamour’ of the new film fade and you’ll better see the scratches. But I enjoyed the take on the story/stories reference in the film, I found the performances to be pretty good, and while the actions scenes were incredibly over the top and zany I found myself grinning from ear to ear watching them. Definitely not something you’d see in Herge’s comics, but it does accomplish what all animated films should strive for. If you’re doing something animated (mo-cap or something more traditional), you should attempt to do something that makes the best use of the medium, something you can’t do in live action, and those action scenes did accomplish that though I’m sure some will say they went too far, again personal opinion will probably be a huge factor into many reviews of the movie.

    I do agree with one of the points though, that perhaps the movie went by too fast without establishing who Tintin was and making the audience care for him. I had no problem liking Tintin or Haddock, being a fan of the comics and the cartoon series, but the friend who I saw the movie with who has not read the original series did remark to me after the film that she felt the beginning went by in a blur. At first I thought she just meant the pace of the story itself, but perhaps she expected more of an introduction to Tintin which caught her off guard. If anything I think it shows that the film assumes the audience knows who Tintin is and is banking on an affection towards Tintin to already be established before the movie-goer sits down.

    I’m not sure how popular Tintin is in my neck of the woods (Western Canada), but at the end of my showing there was some applause from the audience, so perhaps there were at least a few other fans in the audience who enjoyed the movie. In short, I found myself elated to have enjoyed the movie so much, and was pretty impressed with the mo-cap. To add, I also saw the film in 3D, and while I know that 3D seems to be a touchy subject for people (Again something that I sometimes feel like I should be ashamed to admit that I don’t mind it), I did enjoy seeing the film in 3D, and might even see it again before it’s out of theatres.

  • https://twitter.com/danny_shea Danny Shea

    I had the biggest, goofiest smile plastered on my face for the entire duration of Tintin. I probably looked like an idiot.

    That being said, I thought Tintin was a total blast. It’s a very good film, impeccably crafted and the hatred leveled against it is a bit baffling.

  • http://okgrillo.blogspot.com Oscar Grillo

    Since the ugliness of the trailer put me off I didn’t bother to see this film. With the money I saved I bought a facsimil edition of “Tintin in the land of the soviets”. It was a good move I believe.

    • Fred Sparrman

      So, why was this comment allowed when he says he didn’t see the film? Because you’re biased against the film and are happy to spread negative opinions, that’s why. And please don’t delete it now either; own up to your prejudices. (PS *I* saw the film; it was okay.)

    • James

      Definitely a good move.

  • Pieter

    I cannot believe the closed-minds thing going on here. “So it is Mo-Cap, then it HAS TO BE bad.” “It’s a European thing, then it HAS TO BE bad.” People, please leave that attitude if you don’t want to keep on wondering why Europeans have such a bad idea about the general intelligence of Americans. Maybe it is “professional”, amongst critics, to hate every mo-cap film but it’s even more “professional” to walk into a theatre without having any prejudices…or without making Tintin’s dress-style as one of the major points of criticism in your review. Relax, sit down and I’m sure you will love this movie on some level.

    • Barney Miller

      Or maybe we just didn’t like it because we thought it was bad. I think it’s much more close minded to assume everyone should like the film simply because you do.

      • Pieter

        I respect everyone’s opinion, but it seems to me that most reviewers already had the intention of disliking the film even before they started watching it. The amount of negative prejudice this film receives is a bit astonishing, especially from people whom I expect to be a bit more open-minded than the general movie-public. Lib wrote it down nicely:

        “This sounds more like an angsty teenage rant than the educated comment I’d like to expect from film historians.”

        I agree, it’s not the best animated flm there ever was, but it is still far better than most films that got into cinemas this year.

  • Stu

    Some of us had the comics growing up and are still only in our 30′s and love people like Spielberg for bringing our childhood back.

    If you have no idea who the character is then why bother trying to review the movie?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariville Ariel

    Why did Tintin need to be done in 3D?

    And if you wanted realism, why not just do it in live-action?

    This movie kills the essence of cartoon form Tintin :(

  • Matt P.

    I was actually pleasantly surprised by this film! I went not expecting much but I think Spielberg did a really good job with this! The story seems to be faithfully adapted* and I thought the acting was fantastic! The biggest is definitely the animation but I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. While the animation isn’t great it’s at least a little more than tolerable. When I saw the first images I thought “Why not just make it live-action?” but I’m starting to think it wouldn’t have worked for this film. If the motion capture was intended to bring the art style into real life I’d say they succeeded.

  • Justin

    I saw this movie today and I thought it was great! I think Steven Spielberg did a great job with this movie. It had a lot of action and good writing. I loved how the dog was extremely smart in finding things and sensing trouble. I liked much of the mo-cap animation, but there were some characters that looked ugly in mo-cap, like the butler. I won’t reveal the ending, but I have a feeling that they will make a sequel. Overall, this movie was fantastic and very well done.

    BTW, I was relieved to see the Amblin Entertainment logo at the beginning of the movie. They usually show it at the end of Spielberg’s movie.

  • Lori

    I was surprised to find that I wasn’t totally put off by the mocap. There were instances where the weight of the characters felt noticeably off in that they seemed to float more than they were grounded. This was mostly in more physical actions: falls, tumbles, etc.

    However, what I could not get passed was how the camera never stopped moving. Several times the camera felt unnecessary. Trucks, pans, and handheld that didn’t do anything to add to the narrative or the atmosphere of the shot- it was simply there because it could be. It showed off sets and environments where they weren’t needed or to add movement where characters were more still/introspective. It had a self indulgence that one finds in 3D animation student films, and it took me out of the movie on more than one occasion.

    In particular, the pirate sequences between Sir Francis and Red Rackham, were entirely too frenetic. I have no need to see all of these expanses of the ships, they aren’t telling me anything that I need to know that’s related to the story or the character development, they’re not implying something, and they’re not revealing anything that would be needed for later on in the the film. Adding camera action for the sake of it doesn’t add dynamism to a story. The same can be said for the scenes involving the concert. The camera could have lingered and created tension, instead of misplaced unease because you’re not focused on any one thing in particular.

    I was left exhausted afterwards and overall it was a movie that I would not watch a second time.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I’ve just seen the movie and enjoyed it immensely. My only dissapointment was that they didn’t go into Red Rackham’s Treasure. I would have loved to see them search for the Unicorn underwater and seen Professor Calcalus as well. But apart from that, I liked it alot.
    The mo cap was great and didn’t seem ‘Uncanny Valley’ at all. The character design was very faithful to Herge and I enjoyed the ‘Herge’ cameo and references to Tintin’s previous adventures. Whether the next Tintin movie will be an adaption of Red Rackham’s Treasure or The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun,all I will say is I hope that they include Calcalus in it.

  • http://richardsmithstudios.webs.com/ Richard

    What are you talking about? I LOVED IT.
    I especially liked the chase scene with the falcon that lasted ONE LONG SHOT.
    I also loved the captain.

  • Huston

    My favorite TINTIN is from Shame of the Jungle, where he’s trying to convert the “natives” and when one doesn’t want to pray, Tintin whacks him on the head with a cross.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I just saw it today myself, and could vouch for those here that it’s not that bad a film. I felt Spielberg experimented quite well and there were still a few places where I felt the moving camera deal worked effectively. While some would argue over why this wasn’t done in live-action, I felt there were some merit in that chase scene mentioned earlier that showed what animation is still capable of doing where live-action may pose some difficulties in. I was impressed at that shot in particular since I love seeing how they could go from point A to B without cutting every now and then to break the momentum.

    If there was something I came out of the film knowing full well it was worth the admission price, was to hear the faint voice of a distant child telling someone 10 minutes in, “This is a cool movie.” I felt that summed up my feelings too!

  • Cody

    I saw Tintin last week and loved It!
    Spielberg shows us that you can make a decent movie and be adventurous. The motion capture technique worked great for the movie.

  • Rick Kowal

    I have been chomping at the bit to see it, but money has been tight. I did catch it yesterday, and I really freaking enjoyed it. I only really got into Tintin in the past year or so(37 yr old American here) at the insistence of an European friend of mine. I loved the little touches, like the portrait in the beginning and the awards on the wall of his office(referencing other stories).
    The only part I was really not all that keen with was the crane battle, and Snowy’s design, however, I did think they pulled off the animation for him pretty well(although he was a bit floaty at points). My family has a white wire fox terrier, so I have a bit of experience with the way they move…the part when he was digging at the floor in Tintin’s apartment really put a smile on my face, as I thought of our dog when she is trying to get at something out of reach.

  • Paul

    I saw TINTIN on Christmas Day and I have to say that the party of us that went (a mix of adults and kids) all greatly enjoyed the film. I can think of no higher praise than to say that just after the plane propellor incident my extremely jaded 13 year old nephew who talks like a surfer and listens constantly to rap music leaned over to me and said “I LOVE this movie!)

  • Inkan1969

    I saw a 2D version of the movie. I really couldn’t get past the character designs; caricatured details like Tintin’s cowlick and Haddock’s big nose look like deformities on the movie’s realistic humans. I never stopped asking why they couldn’t have made this movie in the traditional artistic style.

    Actually, I connected with Tintin during the first part of the movie, when it was just him. Tintin demonstrated a vast reserve of knowledge, and showed that he had excellent analytical skills. I was eager to follow his adventure as a result. When Capt. Haddock appeared, the focus went exclusively on him, and the movie lost me. For some reason, I couldn’t feel much interest in some guy trying to pull himself out of a drinking problem. (I kept thinking Eddie Valiant the whole time.)