Over the weekend, I got a chance to see the flat-screen version of the new Spielberg opus ...
Watching it, I completely understood what the New Yorker was driving at in its review:
... The great thing about “The Adventures of Tintin” is that it never stops moving — and the terrible thing about it is that it never stops moving. ...
Frankly, it was like watching Michael Curtiz direct, if Michael Cutiz was directing on crystal meth.
In virtual camera-land, you don't need cuts! You don't need a dolly or steady cam or a platform on the camera truck! All you need is imagination and a strong stomach. If you possess both those things, you can pirouette the virtual wide-screen lense through time and space until vertigo sets in.
Which is what Mr. Spielberg often does.
Don't misunderstand me. I dig truck ins, pans, and truck outs. Up to a point. And for a while the incessant camera movement is zestful and uplifting, but ultimately it wears you out. (Okay, it wore me out.) In contrast, the plot is boy's adventure minimalist, but it's mostly there to provide a structure on which to hang all the action set-pieces. Since Steven Spielberg knows how to deliver action set pieces, this works out more than okay.
Despite my gripes, I can understand why overseas audiences have flocked to it, and critics have been more favorable than not. The virtual worlds and art direction are downright dazzling, and the "uncanny valley" fails to trap many of the characters, although the large, cartoon noses get distracting. (Some players are free of it altogether. Tintin's wily terrier Snowy is a downright hoot.)
My guess is that The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will open respectably stateside, and have a decent run. A sizable part of its audience, taken up by the film's environments and slam-bang forward momentum, will recommend it to family and friends.
Who knows? It might even inspire people to go out and read the comic "albums" on which the movie is based.