The Twelfth Best Movie I Saw (in 2011): The Adventures of Tintin

There’s an action sequence midway through The Adventures of Tintin, where the characters battle for control of some papers that lead to a hidden treasure. They race through an Arabian city on cars and motorbikes, into buildings, along clotheslines, through fences. The scene continues for several minutes – all in one continuous tracking shot. It is – and I do not say this lightly – the most best and most well-conceived action shot I have every seen. And it received almost no attention of any kind. People who complain that motion-capture gets no credit are right. In a year almost devoid of good action movies, how does a movie this fun get this ignored? How did A Cat In Paris and a Kung Fu Panda sequel get an Oscar nod over this?

Really, how many of you saw The Adventures of Tintin? Anyone? This is an adventure movie directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Peter Jackson. It was written by a screenwriting dream team: Joe Cornish (Attack of the Block), Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Dr. Who, the original Coupling), and Edgar Wright (Shawn of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). I had very good reviews. It’s based on a popular comic book. And it made significantly less money than Just Go With It did this year. I do not understand how the movie business works sometimes. Or, ever, really.

What’s not to love, people? A boy goes on adventures all over the world, peering at treasure maps, sinking ships and shooting planes down from the sky with a revolver. His best friend is a dog smarter than literally anyone in Real Steel. They leap from motorbikes to cars to swirling rivers in a fraction of a second. They get into a fight with a falcon. Have you ever seen a boy and a dog fight a falcon in 3-D before? It is awesome. You all missed out.

Not that I didn’t have some issues with Tintin, too. It gives little in the way of introduction of its main character, and so it feels a bit like we’ve stumbled into the movie partway through, or are watching the third sequel of a familiar franchise. But that’s a minor quibble, and certainly not big enough to explain its lethargic domestic gross (it made a sterling $300 million internationally, which probably softens the blow a bit). I know parents complained about its oddly pro-alcohol stance (for one of the characters, it serves as a sort of Popeye’s spinach, a strange choice for a kid’s movie). If I were a parent, though, I’d be perhaps more bothered watching a character gunned down by a tommy gun and then mark down his dying message with his own blood (the scene plays out in a very PG-way, of course, but it’s still a shocking). That’s just me, though.

But I didn’t get the sense that people didn’t go see Tintin because they were concerned about its content. I got the sense that people didn’t go see it because they just didn’t care.

Too bad. Some movies, like Star Wars, and Avatar, are made for the big screen. You just missed a good one.