Monday, December 26, 2011

(:)(:)(:) for the Adventures of Tintin in 3D

3 snouts up out of a possible 5 snouts for Tintin in 3D.

At 9:50pm Christmas night, after a rich meal and a rousing Oh Hell card game speed race, my children and niece and nephew prevailed upon me and my brother to take them to the 10:10 showing of the Adventures of Tintin.  At my age, and with my early to bed early to rise routine, this decision itself was an adventure, an impulsive act hearkening back to holidays of our youth.

So we figured out some logistics, hopped in very cold cars and raced to the theaters in downtown (nearly deserted) Davis.  It was fun to tell the ticket clerks we wanted to see "Tin Tin at ten ten."  Unlike probably most viewers, my brother and I and our four teenagers (15-19) were raised on Tin Tin (our other brother is also raising his kids on Tintin, it's a must in the Nichols family).  We have every single one of the Tintin books (written by Belgian cartoonist Herge in the early 1930s).  So it was a no brainer to see this movie and to see it together.

I think it's fair to say we were all enchanted by it.  I know I was.  Yet I give it only 3 snouts--how can this be?  Well, as my son put it, it's a 4 snouter if you love and know Tintin.  It's a 3 if you're just going to a movie.   For me the movie was a technological marvel as well.  I have never seen an animated film that was made to look so much like a photo-realistic live action film.  In it, Steven Spielberg really seems to bring the art of Herge to life.  It is as if someone waved a magic wand and now the characters are all real and somehow able to have their crazy adventures in 3D.

I take it down a snout or too because in preserving the authentic Tintin feel, Spielberg and company chose to keep the thin plot, hokey dialogue and ludicrous assumptions intact.  The movie ends up feeling a little like a hybrid of 1930s sensibilities with 2011 technology--a disconcerting combination that doesn't quite work.  In other words, absent a fascination with a sexually ambiguous boy adventurer, his drunken sea captain sidekick and the 2 infinite silly Thom(p)son Twins trailing them, you might just say "yeah right!"

Come to think of it, Tintin's dog Snowy deserves honorable mention here.  Snowy has always been a talented and key part of any Tintin adventure, but Spielberg pays special attention to him here.  He ducks under cars, jumps out of windows and onto trucks and zeroes in on pick pockets like nobody's business.  Snowy is, in fact, often several steps ahead of Tintin, the captain and everyone in the film.  The chase between Snowy, a falcon, a car and a boat in a north african town might be the single best 3-D adventure scene I've every experienced--it was a ride at Disneyland all in itself.

In the end, I hope this film will introduce millions more to the amazing original cartoon books, available in print everywhere.

No comments: