First “Tintin” Reviews Are Raves

While it’s still two months off for those us living in Australia or the United States, Europe is about to get Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s “The Adventures of Tintin” dropped on them in coming weeks.

Over the weekend though, the embargo was lifted on press reviews and the word is very good, even from the usually tough French critics who would be more than happy to skewer Spielberg and co. if the film made a mockery of the beloved Belgian comic. Premiere calls it a masterpiece. Jeuxactu gives it 5/5, L’Express a 4/5. Cinemateaser gives it a 4.5/5 and says it contains “irresistible humor, a love for cinema, experimental (narrative and visual) techniques and a genuine respect for Herge”.

Amongst the Brits, a rather verbose review in Empire gives it a 4/5 and has high praise for Andy Serkis’ performance as Haddock, the animation, the action, and more with special love for all its throwbacks to classic European cinematic style. They call it a film that shows “the romance of old-school cinema, conjured by the slick synthesis of CG wizardry”.

The few problems they have with it are the same ones that Total Film mentions in their 3/5 review (the most negative one thus far). The big issue is that it might be too manic, the pace is so fast and the focus is so much on going from one action set piece to the next that the story never finds the time to quieten down or give us a “strong emotional hook” – making it more of a fun escapist adventure for kids than something more emotional in their words.

They do however highly praise “an up, down and all-around chase sequence executed in one impossible, continuous shot that brings the excitement to a dizzy peak”. Numerous reviews praise Spielberg’s virtual camera work and the “sublime opening credits”.

Update: The trades have come in with raves, Variety calling it “a rollicking return to action-adventure form, especially after the disappointment of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”… blessed with a smart script and the best craftsmanship money can buy, Spielberg has fashioned a whiz-bang thrill ride that’s largely faithful to the wholesome spirit of his source but still appealing to younger, Tintin-challenged auds.”

The Hollywood Reporter says it maintains a “compact narrative that never takes itself too seriously… [it’s] a good ol’ fashioned adventure flick that harkens back to the filmmaker’s action-packed, tongue-in-cheek swashbucklers of the 1980s”.

On the flip side two UK papers weren’t as enamoured. The Guardian gives it a 2/5 and says “while the big set pieces are often exuberantly handled, the human details are sorely wanting” and spends much of the review talking about how the animation fails to convey the expressions and humanity that Herge was able to impart with the comics.

The Telegraph gives it a 3/5 and has the same complaint about the film’s lack of humanity, calling the overall movie “a perfectly decent animated adventure, comparable to the better output of DreamWorks if perhaps not Pixar… this is less an adaptation of Herge’s writing than a kind of airless pastiche of it.” He adds that the motion capture was a big issue – “however much more successful the technique is here than it has been elsewhere, crucially it’s not successful enough”.

Further reviews are expected to be forthcoming shortly.