The Adventures of Tintin
I saw Tintin last night, and went in with mildly high expectations; what with Spielberg directing and the promise of Indiana Jones like adventure... Now that I've seen Tintin, I can safely say Indiana Jones this is not.
There is just some weird thing about Tintin that made me not like it. Or several weird things. It's not so much in the animation style, but at the same time, the animation grew real tiring to me. There were times when the action was so outlandish and cartoonish that it warranted actually being a cartoon. Then there was maybe 75% of the rest of the movie when your wondering what advantage does animating this film have over just shooting live action? I would say last year's A-Team movie had more over-the-top action than Tintin did, and that didn't need to be animated. I do understand that the Tintin source material is a cartoon, but well, I guess I'm trying to say that the mocap animation didn't really do it for me, just on principle. The animation itself was very well executed, but I didn't see the overall point of it all.
The story had some problems of its own. This is no origin story. The film starts off with Tintin being a well established journalist. This is shown through a cool opening title sequence, and some closeups of some newspapers on the wall of Tintin's office. Kind of a neat way to establish who this kid is without a word of dialogue, to anybody (like me) who has no knowledge of the source material, I suppose. But for all the gripes everyone is giving the new Spider-man movie for redoing the origin story, the way that Tintin starts really felt like I was walking in partway through the movie. But not in a good Indiana Jones kind of way. The opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Arc does a great job establishing Indiana Jones through a long sequence of bad ass, now iconic imagery and then leads into him as a professor. You learn all you really need to know about Indy's backstory and personality in the first 30 minutes of the movie. In Tintin however, the character is just kind of introduced to us, and well, there he is. Some dorky inquisitive little dude who likes to solve mysteries, I guess. No real action scene to introduce the character, mainly just him walking around, doing normal things.
I didn't care for the character of Tintin much. This movie treated his character in such a way that it almost insulted the intelligence of the audience. Now, I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a movie for really little kids (it didn't come across that way), but the way that the plot plops along was pretty dumb. For one thing, everything just kind of happens by coincidence, or Tintin's dog finds something strange for no reason, and it gets investigated and leads to the next major plot point. The entire film gets set in motion because Tintin buys a model ship from a street vendor on a whim, and the villain shows up a minute later on the same street and creates the random conflict that is, basically, the main conflict of the film. It was such a stupid, random way to begin the main plot, in my opinion.
For another, Tintin talks to himself. Or he talks to his dog, I'm not sure. For the first 45 minutes of the movie, Tintin is literally explaining everything he is thinking about, out-loud, to himself. It makes him come across as mentally deranged. That, or they assumed the audience wasn't capable of understanding what was gong on, so they had to explain every little detail of the mystery at all times. Kind of crappy storytelling there, Spielberg. If this was supposed to be because it was a movie for children, I'd like to point out that several people get gunned down with machine guns in the film, and it also features a character that's such an alcoholic that at one point he needs to drink rubbing alcohol just get get his fix.
And lastly, Tintin isn't actually all that important to the story. He's just kind of there for the ride. I mean he does a ton of things to move the plot along, but it didn't ultimately feel like he was the heart of the story. Captain Haddock felt like he should have been the main focus in my opinion. I guess I just found Tintin's character annoying.
There are some good things about the film, though. It does eventually get the spirit of adventure in it. But it takes a while. There are also some nice action scenes, but eventually they start to wear you down. The Morocco sequence, which was supposed to be the biggest action scene of the film, was actually kind of mind-numbing. Just things happening without any hesitation, real humor, or emotional investment. It fatigued me. But the villain felt pretty Spielbergy to me. He could have been an Indiana Jones-type villain. He had the perfect level of smarminess and prickish sophistication, while still being a big enough a-hole to want to murder a some young kid he just met. The mystery itself isn't bad, but the way that it unfolds seemed kind of half-assed to me.
Ultimately the film isn't a complete failure. It struggled to hold my attention at times, but it may be different for a kid or someone who cares about the source material. It was only offered in 3D at the theater I went to, and while the 3D was decent, it was also nothing that I hadn't seen before. My whole experience with Tintin... ehhhhh... But I did have a blue ICEE at the theater for the first time in years, and it was actually really good. That was a plus.
Adventures of Tintin - 5.5 out of 10
The blue ICEE I drank while watching it - 9 out of 10
[Scott Roberts] "For the first 45 minutes of the movie, Tintin is literally explaining everything he is thinking about, out-loud, to himself. It makes him come across as mentally deranged. That, or they assumed the audience wasn't capable of understanding what was gong on, so they had to explain every little detail of the mystery at all times. Kind of crappy storytelling there, Spielberg."
Yeah, that's a pet-peeve of mine, when everything is explained through unnatural dialogue. Many movies would benefit immensely from cutting the amount of dialogue in half.
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As is often the case, you have just saved me $13.50 on the price of a 3D movie ticket. You should post your paypal account with your reviews and charge people $3 - that's a good return on investment.
Spielberg has a lot of baggage - some really awesome movies and some cliches associated with them - so a movie like TinTin has a lot of expectations riding on it based upon his history ad the chances of creating a totally original and exciting work are low. We've debated many times the collected works of Steve - overall he's the master of awesomeness and a great inspiration.
As for "War Horse", from the preview it looks like a manipulative, emotional, 2 boxes of Kleenex movie combining War (we know he can do war), a fragile kid (he's good with kids) and an animal (movies about animals are a sure fire way to tug at the heart strings and the wallets of movie goers) plus John Williams music and you can just curl up in a ball and rock yourself to sleep through the tears. We are not allowed to watch animal movies in our house - 50% of the time it is because the main animal character becomes dog food, and the other 50% of the time it's just too emotional.
Anyway, thanks again Scott for the savings. Happy New Year.
[Mike Cohen] "As is often the case, you have just saved me $13.50 on the price of a 3D movie ticket."
If Frank Capra made a series of informational films about me, it would be called "Why I Write", haha. I'm happy to steer you clear of wasting money on films, I mean, I'm gonna go anyway (because that's my empty life), so I might as well spread some word about it!
But yeah, Spielberg is awesome enough to let something like Tintin (or War of the Worlds) come out every so often, and it doesn't taint my overall enthusiasm for what he does (wait, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!). I was actually planning on seeing War Horse this weekend, until I noticed it was 2 1/2 hours long... Screw that! If someone else wants to check it out and let us know if it's worth it, be my guest! I pretty much agree with all of Mike's assumptions about what War Horse will be. And I was planning on sitting through a 100 minute Spielbergian war film about a horse. But 150 minutes... ehhh. It has to get more enthusiasm than 75% on rotten tomatoes and 72 on metacritic to get me into that one. I'm struggling to keep up with all of this year's "Oscar bait" films. The 10 nominees for Best Picture this time around will certainly feature a few I won't care about.
I had kind of expected that Tintin would not go over in the US as it does in europe. That's been the history of it.
In the originals, which I haven't really followed much, there was a lot of interior monologue as well. You only have a couple of choices about this; an omnicient voiceover narrator, a la old film noirs and Blade Runner, or spoken-aloud monologues. Or you bring in some clumsy third person to use as the interlocutor device, but that slows everything down horribly.
So I finally got to Red Box TinTin this week.
I had the same feeling about getting tired from the action sequences as I got from "Transformers; Dark Side Of The Moon". Gorgious action sequences, any one or two of which used to be enough for the centerpiece of a normal film, only now they are diminished because the movie insists on topping each sequence with another, more lavish and yet disposable one. It's like havong an iPod filled with nothing but speed-metal songs: after a while it just all becomes noise.
And action sequences don't get their power from how many explosions amd stunts there are, but from how invested you are in the characters involved. Without the emotional investment, the danger and damage don't really matter.
You'd think they'd find somewhere in the movie to take two minutes to explain this guy's funny name. I think skipping his origin hurt with audience identification.
I think it's supposed to be an easter egg, but the Arab Sheik was made to look suspiciously like Spielberg, IMO.
It's kind of maddening topan amovie that's trying so hard to be good that you're rooting for, because the film has a lot of beauty to it; lots of visual detail, wonderful framing and lighting and textures, and little call-backs (Like the Moon Rocket) to other TinTin stories in it... but I didn't care for the extended title sequence in lieu of actual on-screen character development. Not to mention the title sequence more or less gives away the whole plot, WTH.
The comics were daily serials, and the film locked itself into that mode with the need to end every scene with a cliffhanger. I'm not sure that was wise.
The character design flirts with the Uncanny Valley, in a setting that's otherwise photoreal, and that may be why some people are creeped out by TinTin and the others. The exaggerated heads and noses get their dead-on accurate visual cues from a slavish respect for the printed originals. But you have to remember, that was an affectation designed to overcome problems of printing comics with faces clear and detailed enough to read well in small panels. That's why Herge' scaled his character's heads and facial details up. There's no reason except mimicry to do that in CGI. If the entire world in CGI was also proportionally tweaked, maybe people would have gotten over the warped bodies, as they do in movies like "up". But by trying to be realsitic and exaggerated at the same time, I think it hurt the movie.