Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adventures of Tintin

It’s been some time since I saw a movie that told a really really good story. Indeed, with all the sequels and remakes, very few good original stories are coming out of Hollywood these days.

In fact, it’s been so long that I’d forgotten what a good, clean, engaging adventure looked like. Not one driven by special effects or action, or one that is so stereotypical that it is predictable. But one with well developed characters exploring the classic themes of honor, courage, and duty, tossed into an adventure story involving ships, pirates, hidden treasure, and--most of all--human character.

Forgotten, that is, until last night. When my wife and I watched just such a movie. I’m speaking of the new animated movie directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson: The Adventures of Tintin.

Tintin is a classically timeless character. Portrayed as a young journalist, he is mature beyond his years (even if he does miss some obvious clues). One day while out looking for his next story he purchases a model sailing ship. A three masted, 50 gun ship, to be precise.

It turns out that the model ship is a step in solving the mystery of the original, which was lost under mysterious circumstances. Rumor says it involved pirates, but no one is sure. Tintin, sensing a good story, begins to explore the history of the original ship and soon finds himself a participant story itself. And it is a story well told.

Tintin must use his resourcefulness, and that of his pet dog Snowy, as he joins up with a sea captain who is also part of the story. He is assisted along the way by two bumbling detectives, Thomson and Thompson (who mainly provide comic relief). Before the story is over, both Tintin and the sea captain learn the meaning of courage and determination.

And, best of all, unlike many animated “family” movies today, I noticed no bathroom or other base humor in the film (unless you count one plot-significant belch). The language, including that of the often drunk sea captain, never got worse than “blistering barnacles” or “great snakes.” And the captain himself, although a drunkard at the beginning, learns along the way that relying on alcohol is not the best approach to life. So I can say without hesitation that Tintin is not only an excellently told adventure story, but it is one that is fully appropriate for family viewing.

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