Reviewing Tintin and Mission: Impossible

I just got back from a great trip to the movies with my brother, J-man. Not only did we avoid seeing something horrible like The Darkest Hour, but we actually saw a pretty good movie in The Adventures of Tintin. I’ve had my eye on Tintin for a while because it looks like the sort of adventurous romp that I would enjoy. It’s also been described as a mix of Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Overall, the movie is more like Indiana Jones with a Pirates twist, but I suppose I should have taken that comparison with a grain of salt anyway because the last Indy film was a huge disappointment and the Pirates series would not have lasted one iteration if not for Johnny Depp’s complete ownership of the Jack Sparrow role. Anyway, like with Indiana Jones, the title character in Tintin is of a scholarly profession and can inexplicably beat up men twice his size. Specifically, Tintin is a ginger, baby-faced journalist with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. He’s definitely a likeable guy, but he only survives the movie due to a combination of glass-jawed henchmen and his ability to expertly pilot any vehicle that he has never seen before. Upon hijacking an enemy aircraft, Tintin says he “interviewed a pilot once.” Then he flips a few switches and we’re off to our next destination.

OK, all of that talk about how Tintin is lucky just to survive the movie is really more observations rather than complaints, because the same thing would happen in any adventure movie. What makes Tintin really special is the motion capture technology that’s used to animate the characters. Everything a character in the film does, right down to his facial expressions, is actually acted out and loaded into a computer before the CGI is put into effect to make everything looks beautiful. The result is an animated movie that looks more like live action than most animated films we’re ever seen.

Of course, all the high-tech animation in the world won’t make a bad movie good, but luckily Tintin isn’t a bad movie. The British actors are charming, particularly in the case of Tintin’s makeshift sidekick Captain Haddock, who is a drunk old sea dog played by Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings). There’s also a couple of memorable action scenes that look really awesome thanks to the brilliant animation I already mentioned. If you’re willing to overlook Tintin’s goody-goody nature that has him yelling “great snakes!” in lieu of swear words and lecturing Haddock on his drinking habits, then you’ll probably enjoy Tintin for the slick action-adventure movie that it is.

The other movie I saw this weekend was Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was surprisingly fun. The MI series has been around for a while now, and it’s easy for the fourth movie in a spy series to get overly convoluted and indulgent. Fortunately, Ghost Protocol was directed by Brad Bird, who is used to directing animated projects like The Incredibles and Ratatouille. I think that work with “children’s” movies is what helped Bird keep Ghost Protocol so simple. The film features Tom Cruise and a band of spy movie archetypes chasing down some Russian nuclear warhead codes. You get the nerdy computer guy (Simon Pegg), the hot lady who also kicks ass (Paula Patton) and the mysterious/wildcard guy (Jeremy Renner).

I just made the movie sound bland, but it works because of comic relief led by Simon Pegg and good chemistry amongst the leading actors. Tom Cruise may seems to be a little old to be headlining another action movie, but it helped for me to know that he did his own stunts in the Dubai scene. I’ll only say it involves a really tall building and is probably the coolest scene in the movie. Ghost Protocol is great because it tries to entertain the viewer instead of outsmarting him or her, which has become too common these days.

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