As I walked into the theater to see The Adventures of Tintin, I had lofty expectations. In fact, I was worried that my high hopes would deny Tintin its chance at success. For starters, I read the Hergé originals as a youngster and have always been infatuated with their aesthetics. Secondly, director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson are responsible for some of my all-time favorite action films: Saving Private Ryan and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, respectively. As I sat watching the previews with my 3D glasses, I couldn’t help but anticipate an action flick of equal caliber.
In short, Tintin delivered. It struck a great balance between realism and garish cartoonism, both in its animation and its plot. The settings and costumes stayed true to the bright color schemes of the Hergé originals. The characters themselves are very nearly realistic in texture and expression (thanks to the almost-there motion capture animation), yet their proportions and almost grotesque facial structures adhere to the comics. At times I forgot I was watching an animated film, only to be reminded by the spherical heads of policemen Thomson and Thompson or the oddly flat face of Nestor the butler.
But don’t think that you have to have read the Tintin comics to enjoy its latest iteration. Clear-cut ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’ the traditional blundering henchmen, and a hero you can’t help but root for all combine for a consistently exciting action movie that comes off a classic Spielberg: good, clean fun. But it’s not all Spielberg; Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis’s hands are felt through the motion capture techniques they mastered with LOTR’s Gollum. Furthermore, the 3D was extremely well done—along with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, it is by far the most realistic and immersive 3D I have yet to experience—which, in my opinion, makes the admittedly high price of 3D admission worth it. The casting was also nearly impeccable, especially Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (both of Shaun of the Dead fame) as Thomson and Thompson, whose bumbling hunt for the pick-pocket Silk is exceptionally hilarious.
All in all, The Adventures of Tintin comes through on all of the important fronts: plot, acting, scenery, cinematography, animation and 3D visuals. I recommend that you see it (in 3D) before it leaves theaters.