I had never heard of the character Tintin before seeing this movie and if Spielberg’s latest film is any indication, he must inhabit a pretty colorful and interesting world. Spielberg’s first film totally in animation is what you’d expect, Sort of Raiders of the Lost Ark on crack. Everything is overdosed because…..well… because Spielberg can and this is probably the reason Spielberg has always wanted to make an animated film. And so from the very beginning to the very end Tintin is all things you love about Spielberg and all that you hate. Everything runs on high, which makes for one of the coolest and exhausting (and sometimes boring) film-going experiences of this past year. A cool toy that may be worth the price of admission but still a forgettable cool toy nonetheless.
The first thing that you notice about Tintin when the opening credits are over is how stunning the animation is. I haven’t seen animation this good, ever. It really took my breath away as we are introduced to a world so familiar and yet so estranged. If there is anything that should be singled out for being “excellent” or “mind-blowing” it has to the animation. The textures and the environments are all flushed out and things look realistic but in a fantasy sort of way. Animation has come along way but I’ve always had my doubts on whether it could come full circle. Whether or not it could become as real as its creators. Tintin is the first time that I honestly believe that one day animation will begin do things that can even trick the human eye. For that alone, Tintin is a marvel and a point on a time-line of innovation and progress.
Tintin’s biggest flaw is that it is moving at a hundred miles an hour. It never slows down to enjoy where it’s going and where it’s been. I mean I had to pee and trying to find a place to walk out was hell. Each scene was action packed (sometimes even exhaustingly so) and going to the bathroom meant missing some sort of spectacle. The spectacle’s are awesome at first, then they are cool, and then at the end they are in between neat and wrap this up. Spielberg exhausts his audience as he keeps his hand in the cookie jar a little too long. Even with that though, Spielberg gives us enough story to at least take a little attention away from tank hotels and whisky motored airplanes. Not that I didn’t like the action cause I did but I liked it kinda like how I like cookies. I can go a little overboard and be fine but when you shove them down my throat my stomach turns to sugar and eating them isn’t as fun anymore.
Tintin is an interesting and fun ride as Spielberg has successfully made his first animation film. I remember the Harry Potter days when Spielberg dabbled with taking the job only if he could animate the series. Obviously that didn’t work but it is good to see this old master finally getting to make a film he’s probably always wanted to make. But there is still work to be done. Spielberg may have some great films under his belt but he has waned over the years. Tintin probably isn’t as good as it should have been and the world’s most famous director is probably to blame. The problem is the formula, we all know what a Spielberg film is and we’re all (or at least me) kind of getting tired of it. I wonder if Spielberg is starting to see a trend. He hasn’t made anything interesting since Munich and his films all feel like attempts to recapture that excitement of films he made long ago. I know I’m starting to question where this future legend belongs. In the history books or back to the drawing board. But for now though there is still a spark of what was and what hopefully will continue to be.