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Haddock’s inspirational speech was the breaking straw

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1. I’ve been a Tintin fan for as long as I can remember. The albums were a part of my upbringing. Basically I know them by heart. I have no idea of how many times I’ve read them, but it’s probably closer to 100 than 10.

2. I like Steven Spielberg. A lot. Jaws, E.T, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s list, Minority Report. There are so many proofs that Spielberg generally kicks ass. He knows his craft.

3. I loved what Peter Jackson did with the ring trilogy. Sacrifices needed to be made and Tom Bombadill had to go, but considering how difficult it must have been, I think the result was amazing. For the record I only had three major complaints in the entire series: 1. Making Gimli into a laughable character and a target for dwarf tossing, 2. Legolas doing stupid skateboard/surfing moves in the fight and 3. Legolas doing some pretty silly swinging as he fought the olifants. That’s not a lot to be honest.

Following this I obviously had huge expectations for The Adventures of Tintin.

A beautiful line-up
Tintin + Spielberg + Jackson + modern, awesome animation technology starring the motion capture actor Andy Serkis who did such a great job as Gollum and in Rise of the Planet of the Apes – what could possibly go wrong with such a line-up?

It didn’t even bother me much that Fiffi didn’t like it. If you don’t know about Fiffi, she’s a Swedish film blogger, about my own age, just a way better writer than I am. It’s just a pity for the international film blogging community that she writes in Swedish, and in a way that is far too clever for Google translation to capture. However, for all my admiration for her, we often have slightly different opinions about movies. She was crazy in love with Crazy, Stupid, Love. I wasn’t. I on the other hand fell for Submarine. She didn’t.

In the case of Tintin, she wrote (in my own clumsy translation) something along those lines:

“This first of Tintin’s adventures seen through the eyes of Steven Spielberg is something as weird as sparkling fireworks where you’ve only used pastel colours. It’s like making flambéed bananas but forgetting to light the liquid, like paying 3 000 bucks for a wedding make-up but not get water safe mascara, like sitting in a theatre saloon and see this high-tech miracle of comic adaptation and yet fall asleep. Yes, I did it. I fell asleep. Damn it, how I slept and I can’t blame the incredibly comfortable armchairs at the cinema in Sickla, no, it was the movie that was to blame, nothing else”.

I giggled a little but then I dismissed it, saying to myself: “Hey, Fiffi’s grumpy today. Almost everyone else has liked it. And falling asleep! Pfft! How could that even be possible? She must have had a really bad day.  But I won’t! I’m going to the theatre with an open mind, not clinging to the albums stricken by nostalgia, and I’m totally going to love this!”

But – and I think you already know where this is heading – I was sadly disappointed to see that I should have listened to Fiffi. For once we agreed completely about a movie. Not that it would have prevented me from watching it anyway; I needed to see this with my own eyes. But like her I won’t rush my feet off to see the follow-ups that will come.

Technically I suppose it’s well made. There are some scenes that look quite spectacular, such as the fighting between too ships at the sea and some beautiful transmissions from one scene to the other that made my jaw drop.  But I could never  rid myself of the thought that the characters are like those little collector’s models you can buy in Toy Stores for grown-ups at ridiculous prices. There was something plastic and completely dead about them.

And what is worse: they didn’t feel like themselves and that’s my biggest issue with the movie.

My complaints
However, let’s talk about my other complaints about Tintin first.

Above everything else, it’s messy. I can’t fathom what drove them to mix up the stories from several albums in the way they did. It doesn’t really add anything, it’s just confusing and distracting.

I kept waiting and waiting for the sea adventure to take off and for the professor to enter the story. He never did. Instead they went on a strange tour to the desert, where all of a sudden Castafiore turned up. It was as if they had taken a bunch of albums, cut them into pieces and randomly put them together and it felt ridiculous and wrong.

Sure, there’s a lot of action going on, not a quiet second. But action doesn’t equal tension and suspense. As a matter of fact – and to my astonishment – I found myself bored. Yes, you read it right: bored. It was the last reaction I would have expected from a Spielberg movie. Here they were fighting with the villains, being chased or chasing themselves all over the world to put the puzzle pieces together, and I kept looking at my watch, wondering if it still was working since the pointers seemed not to move forward as they should. I didn’t fall asleep like Fiffi, but I can’t deny that I was tempted, especially as I watched it inAmsterdam, where they have proper theatres unlike the pit hole we have in my home town.

What was worst though was, as I said earlier, that the characters felt so alien. The word “imposer” came to my mind. It was as if someone had taken a polyjuice elixir, dressing up like Tintin and Haddock, pretending to be them, but failing badly in the way they acted.

Inspriational speech
The breaking point was when Captain Haddock out of the blue feels compelled to hold an inspirational speech to Tintin. Since I’m a sucker for rhetoric, I usually don’t mind that little outburst right before the final fight scene is about to take off, which seems mandatory in American movies. But Haddock telling Tintin not to give up? That’s just wrong. So wrong.

I hate to write negative reviews and I wish I could disagree with Fiffi on this one. But I have to be honest: I didn’t like this at all. It’s possible though that I’ have too much Tintin album love flowing in my veins to be able to judge this in a fair and balanced way.

If you disagree with me, I’m really happy for you. But for my own part I’ll stick to the albums for the future.

The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011) My rating: 2,5/5

Written by Jessica

November 9, 2011 at 8:25 am