'TIS A RARE TREAT indeed for Boxing Day’s expectant crowds to have not one but two new films from Steven Spielberg to savour. After all, the man’s become better known of late for lending support to others (small-screen affairs, at that).
Better still, since his last blockbuster outing – 2008’s INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL – left many feeling numb with disappointment. All in all, a big-screen comeback feels long overdue.
Here then, back in the saddle, the filmmaking giant opts to take on an even greater task: translating Hergé’s intrepid young reporter-with-quiff, Tintin, from page to screen, with the aid of whizz-bang motion-capture animation. Three of those adventures (the books were published between 1929 and 1976) have been mashed into one riotous adventure. A dizzy array of action set pieces are the order of the day.
In this revved-up version, Tintin (Jamie Bell) buys a model ship in Paris, only to find the dastardly Sakharine (Daniel Craig) giving chase for a secret scroll contained within. (It points to a fine booty of treasure, after all.) Tintin’s boozy old sea dog pal, Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and the lad’s trusty dog, Snowy, hardly seem primed for such a wicked character. A cross-continent dash soon ensues.
Spielberg never fails to entertain his audience. Indeed, his other Boxing Day release – WAR HORSE – bottles the man’s talents perfectly, delivering a grand, epic and heartwarming adventure for the whole family to enjoy. With this muddled version of TINTIN – and its overcooked collection of British writers – he comes unstuck.
Like many of a certain age, I grew up voraciously reading Hergé’s classic graphic books. Such was my obsession, I even lifted a few off the shelves, only to quite rightly face a parental wrath that night. This adaptation, then, clearly matters more than most.
There are two further outings due to follow, with producer Peter Jackson trading places in the follow-up’s chair. Given time, order may yet be restored. But after all the worldwide anticipation, this TINTIN feels strangely flat and lifeless. Which is a shame. A WAR HORSE it is not.
Critical Rating (for TINTIN): 5/10.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN and WAR HORSE are in cinemas December 26.
First published in The Sun-Herald.
Also out on Boxing Day: