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.

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Jerry Beck

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