Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Adventures of Tintin

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking
Alcohol/Drugs:Character drinks and gets drunk, alcohol humor
Violence/Scariness:Constant action-style peril and violence including pirates, guns, chases, and explosions
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:December 21, 2011
DVD Release Date:March 13, 2012
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking
Profanity: None
Nudity/Sex: None
Alcohol/Drugs: Character drinks and gets drunk, alcohol humor
Violence/Scariness: Constant action-style peril and violence including pirates, guns, chases, and explosions
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: December 21, 2011
DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012

Two box office champion directors and a cult favorite joined forces for a film that was a first for all of them, a 3D motion capture animated story.  It is clear that director Steven Spielberg, producer Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings”) and co-screenwriter Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) were thrilled at the total freedom of animation, bringing storyboards to life without any pesky problems posed by weather, local ordinances, camera placement, safety, or the laws of gravity.  And so they have created a film that is non-stop, brilliantly staged action, with every mode of transport and obstacle, half Indiana Jones, half M. Hulot, with a touch of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, turning the entire material world into a giant Rube Goldberg contraption.  Wonderfully cinematic shots and transitions show us how the masters have fun with pure, unleashed movie story-telling.


The comic book stories of the boy reporter Tintin created by an artist/writer known as Hergé  (Georges Remi) are wildly popular in Europe but not well known in the US.  Tintin is brave, capable, inquisitive boy of indeterminate age, probably somewhere around 14.  His excuse for getting involved in all kinds of adventures is that he is a reporter though neither the books nor the movie waste any time on the details of actually writing or filing stories, or, indeed, on any facts about Tintin’s origins or family.  He has a dog, Snowy, who is as intrepid as he is, and their journeys give them many chances to rescue one another in many exotic locations.


Spielberg and Jackson (whose WETA firm did the animation) did not try to copy the iconic linge claire style pioneered by Hergé, though there is a sly nod to it in the delightful opening credits and in a street artist’s sketch of Tintin at the beginning.  Instead it is an intensely detailed motion and performance capture with hyper-real textures and 3D effects that make the vertiginous chase scenes feel very visceral.  Tintin (voice of Jamie Bell) buys a model ship that turns out to be of great interest to a mysterious man named Ivanovich Sakharine (voice of Daniel Craig).  That leads Tintin to an adventure that involves cities, a desert, an opera singer, a potentate, pirates, dim policemen (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thompson and Thomson), as he is drawn into a multi-generational saga involving lost treasure.  Along the way he meets up with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), a drunken sailor who is part sidekick, part clue.


It has a lot of alcohol for a PG movie and some parents may be uncomfortable with the repeated references, some intended to be humorous, to drinking and drunkenness.  And some will find the non-stop action overwhelming and just too much to process, even in these frenzied movie-as-video-game days.  Even the exacting eye of Spielberg and the prodigious talent of WETA have not quite mastered the physics of movement with motion capture technology.  The textures are wonderfully vivid and tactile and the angles and velocity are superb and the seas and ships toss convincingly.  But the weight of the bodies when characters leap or fall or objects crash feels strange and somehow off and the faces never find the right spot between the realism of the textures and a more stylized or cartoony look.  This is one element where they should have been more true to the original.



Translation: Non-stop peril and action but no one badly hurt, character abuses alcohol, jokes about drinking, some smoking

Family discussion: Are Tintin and Haddock a good team?  What do you most admire about Tintin?

If you like this, try: the books by Hergé

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Angel Menzel

    I’m glad you liked the movie! I personally haven’t seen a pure straight forward adventure movie in a while so it was enormously satisfying. Plus I read all the books in my younger days. Though I’m a little perplexed as to why you put “voice of” instead of “played by” or “performance of” since the actors really are performing it all the way, like in AVATAR. But that’s not really a big deal.
    Merry Christmas!

    • Nell Minow

      Pure straightforward adventure is a good way to describe it, Angel! And your point is a very good one; we haven’t really figured out how to describe the performance of actors in motion capture. I think because the facial expressions were so stylized here, it seemed to me that “voice” was more appropriate, but “performed” might be closer to the truth. Thanks for a great comment!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Toby Clark

    I was completely satisfied with this – I’m guessing it’s a lock for the Best Animated Feature Award at the Oscars, and probably a Best Picture nomination as well. The only complaint I have was that they used a certain scene from the climax of Red Rachkam’s Treasure while throwing in an obvious sequel hook. At least it’ll keep me guessing about how they’ll conclude the second movie.

    Highlights for me were the Bagghar chase scene and the scene with Thompson, Thomson and Mr. Silk – I’m sure they were nowhere near that clueless in the book.

    • Nell Minow

      That chase scene is amazing, Toby. I look forward to watching it again. But don’t count out “Rango” for the Oscar.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment GLouis

    For anyone with an intimate understanding of the original material, this movie can only mean Western civilisation is in its death throes.

    If today’s children genuinely enjoy this garbage (and, worse still, do so better than they do the books), then let’s hope a major cataclysm prevent them from experiencing their inevitable future lives…


    • Nell Minow

      Really, GLouis? I’d hate to think that the higher sensibilities you hope to demonstrate with your appreciation of Herge’s original would lead to such incivility. But I am glad to hear from a fan of the books, even if it is not clear whether you have actually seen the movie or are just speculating about it.

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