Steven Spielberg’s affection for the comic-strip universe created by Herge shines through his latest offering.
The visuals are often spectacular, from the cartoon opening titles through to complex action sequences that are as inventive as anything Spielberg attempted in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
The film makes the most sophisticated use yet of motion capture — the same technique used in Beowulf and The Polar Express — to create a world that’s somewhere between live action and cartoon.
Sad and ghostly: Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock in the film
There’s a breathtaking chase through a Moroccan market-place, a powerful duel between dockyard cranes and an imaginative fantasy sequence in which a galleon seems to sail through the Sahara desert.
So why do I reckon it’s worth only three stars? That’s partly down to the script.
Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have done a merely workmanlike job of amalgamating three Tintin stories — The Crab With The Golden Claws, The Secret Of The Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure.
They have left out elements crucial to a first-rate adventure.
Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a personality-free hero who never develops during the film. His only memorable characteristic is his quiff. It’s like watching an entire movie built around Jedward.
Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) comes out with his much-loved ejaculations — ‘Billions of blue blistering barnacles!’ — but there’s something sad, almost ghostly, about him.
He never seems fully alive, or comes up with anything to make us love him. His only character traits are alcoholism and love of the sea. They’re never enough.
For all its technical brilliance, Tintin is a disappointment. Spielberg has captured the look of Herge, but not the zest and emotion.
The characters are voids and the motion capture technique still hasn’t been perfected.
There’s something spooky about these not-quite-humans’ blank, Botoxed features, their not fully-focused gaze.
I was hoping to be thrilled, and I wasn’t. All the film delivers is a somewhat inhuman pastiche.