Of course I’m gonna write about this. I’m a Tintin freak and have been most of my life. I inhaled the Tintin books when I was a teen, and probably several times more into College and onwards, reading them over again when I had the chance.
So it’s hard for me to write about a Tintin movie with complete objectivity. In fact I considered skipping the movie altogether, so afraid am I of watching anything that wouldn’t live up to expectation, the only thing convincing me otherwise being the Spielberg name.
It took me awhile after watching to write this too, because I needed to figure exactly what my expectations were. What for example, would make a movie ‘worthy’? What did I like about Tintin to begin with? After a while I think I got it. But first, some things I noticed, in bullet points:
Tintin would never get angry at Haddock that way – At some point in the movie, Tintin chided Haddock for drinking again and losing the important scrolls. It’s not that he wouldn’t do that, it’s the way he did it, via a sarcastic side remark, that I found off character. In all the books, I can only remember one significant time when Tintin lost his cool at Haddock, and he did so in a big way, via shouting and screaming at him in ‘Explorers On The Moon’. I know its small details, but its important enough for me to notice at least.
Tintin would never boast – Maybe it’s a common character trait amongst male fictional heroes in the past, but I couldn’t help noticing how Tintin was fantastic with guns and with his fists. I remember wondering why bad guys would even try to beat up on him when I was a kid, considering his Manny Pacquiao – ish fighting skills that see him through encounters with goons twice bigger than him.
At any rate, he’s amazing with a pistol too, and would shoot in that odd arms – crossed technique where he rests the gun on the crook of his elbow for aim (which in my opinion guaranteed blindness or at least deafness on his left ear for at least a day). So anyway, he shoots down a plane via one shot on a floating boat. That’s par for the course as far as the books are concerned, and hell yeah if anyone can do it, Tintin can. What bothers me is he says something like ‘I only need one (bullet)’ before he does so. I find that unbelievable, because if I know Tintin, Tintin would never boast.
Tintin does not pursue a story – At some point after they found the jewels at Marlinspike Hall, Haddock (or Tintin, I’m not sure) says something about Tintin finally getting his story. I can’t recall any time in the books where Tintin would actually say something like that. His being a journalist always felt like an excuse for pursuing adventure, and he gave the impression he pursued adventure first, wrote later (if ever). I thought that was odd as well.
Incidentally Marlinspike Hall seemed much smaller in the movie. In the books it was far grander, maybe it’ll look that way in the next movie.
Technically Superb – The last thing I notice, frankly, in any movie is the quality of the film per se. I really can’t care less whether its in 640, 1080p, HD, 3D or whatever, as long as its clear and gets the story across. But I’d like to credit the movie technically anyway because it was just so damn good. Herge drew Europe in a way that sticks in my mind forever, in bold, plain but brilliant color and detail. If someone says Paris, Tibet, South America or anywhere Tintin has been, I think of Herge’s books, and this movie delivered. It was wonderful for the movie to at least get that right, but frankly if they could’ve done it with less tech involved I’d have been just as happy. The last reason you should be watching a movie is for the special effects. It’s like liking a gift because you like the gift wrapper, and not what’s inside.
Tintin is tough, brilliant, honest, low – key and simple. This is the reason why I immediately notice things like boasting and sarcasm. Americans, or at least American movies, do not understand low – key and simple. They consider boasting as an act of courage, and want their heroes bombastic and larger than life. Tintin is very European in that he pursues adventure for the joy of it (which is why I found the mentions of him doing what he does for journalism odd).
There’s one aspect of Tintin sadly lacking in the movie, and this is his complete and absolute loyalty to his friends. If you are Tintin’s friend, he would fight for you, go to the ends of the Earth for you, defend you, help you, always be patient with you (he has to be with friends like Haddock, the Thompsons and Prof. Calculus) and never get angry at you (unless you really deserve it, and if he did he would be direct, and not sarcastic).
He would be the only level headed person in a group of people losing their cool. There is nothing complex about him, he is simple, clear and single minded in everything he does.
I realize now these are what I expect to see in a Tintin movie, as this is what I most remember about him. After all the amazing scenery, spectacle and adventure, the one thing you will notice about him is the utter lack of a complex. The lack of a personal history or even a romantic interest helps because it keeps everything simple, but it also puts more focus on his one personal trait – loyalty to what is important (his friends, his dog) and complete love of adventure.
Until I see this translated into a movie, I would never find a Tintin movie worthwhile, no matter how intense the special effects.
7 out of 10.