Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: The Adventures of Tintin

I can't decide whether I wanted to slap or hug Tintin. He's a babyfaced, relentlessly upbeat British reporter with apparently lax supervisors who don't mind if he takes a few weeks to trot across the globe and hunt for lost pirate treasure. He's got a loyal dog, Snowy, who follows him everywhere, helps him fight bad guys and catch the odd bird of prey that flies off with an important roll of parchment.

Tintin is not one to give up, even when stranded in the Sahara or stuck in an out-of-fuel propeller plane careening into the ocean. Does it make me a bad person to yearn for his swift, grotesque death? Probably. Nevertheless, The Adventures of Tintin is thrilling to watch, even though you've got a strong suspicion Steven Spielberg won't murder his Uncanny Valley-spawned protagonist halfway through the movie.

Filled with improbably races, chases, rescues and fights, the film is a whimsical family adventure that glistens with spectacular animation that's well beyond the likes of Polar Express. More impressive as a technical achievement than a story, the film couldn't possibly be more visually mesmerizing. Characters move with believable weight and nuance, the set pieces explode with believable physics and lighting, and the stylized, plastic-like sheen of the entire package looks gorgeous in 3D.

The tale is boilerplate, globe-trotting wild goose chase, but what's so wrong with that? Tintin is consequenceless, pretty entertainment that doesn't wear out its welcome. It's no doubt leaving that feat to its sequel.

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