So kinetic that it might give you a case of whiplash. The Adventures of Tintin, based on the popular comic that’s nearly a century old, puts a boy and a dog on a transcontinental quest for gold. This is Steven Spielberg’s first animated film, first motion capture foray and first 3D application. But it feels like a movie that never stops moving the camera and a soundtrack that clobbers your head with cymbals. The newspaper boy Tintin (Jamie Bell, voice) and his reliable pooch knock around on Parisian streets, cargo ships, propeller airplanes, zip lines and motor buggies. By the time Tintin has an overlong halt with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) in the Sahara desert, I felt I had enough.
I cared about where the movie was leading to, but I rarely felt engaged in what was going on in the very moment. That’s not to say that it has its share of fun moments. I did enjoy the flooding of Milanese with Tintin riding over the village by various means to catch an falcon. That trained falcon is attempting to deliver the secret map to the villain Sakharine (Daniel Craig), who looks a little like Ben Kingsley.
Tintin is a perfectly square hero, a boy with a cowlick and some gumption (how he’s a newspaper boy is a mystery, he’s never at the office or at a typewriter). His dog Snowy always seems to be a step or two ahead of his master. Then there are inspectors Thompson and Thompson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) whom usually arrive in the nick of time but are too buffoonish to be effective. Haddock is a new acquaintance to Tintin in this adventure, and the old bearded man is drunk the entire time except once. But he packs a hardy har har punch.
Spielberg’s jerky ride has its ups and downs. Yet the movie peaks at the Milanese sequence which is so brisk but also so engagingly put together. The final unearthing of treasure is not magical. Just arbitrary. So is the 3D which adds nothing.
107 Minutes. Rated PG.
FAMILY FILM / WHIMSICAL FANTASY / SUMMER DOLDRUMS MOVIE
Film Cousins: “The Goonies” (1985); “Dick Tracy” (1990); “The Rocketeer” (1991); “The Tripletts of Belleville” (2003).