The Adventures of Tintin

When youthful ace reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) finds a beautifully detailed model ship, the Unicorn, at a shopping stall, he readily pays the request pound for it. But, when the sinister Mr. Sakharine (Daniel Craig) offers him 10 times what he paid for the ship, Tintin suspects something bad is afoot. The stalwart journalist, with his faithful dog Snowy, an old sea captain named Haddock (Andy Sirkis) and a mysterious clue, takes us on “The Adventures of Tintin.”

Laura's Review: B+

Boy journalist Tintin (voice of Jamie Bell, "Billy Elliot") is taken by a model of the Unicorn, a 17th century sailing vessel, and picks it up for a song at an outdoor market foiling both Ivanovich Sakharine (voice of Daniel Craig, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and Barnaby (voice of Joe Starr, "Date Night") who both know it holds a secret. But when the model is broken during a dog and cat fight, Tintin's faithful fox terrier Snowy spots the secret cylinder that was hidden in the ship's mast that will lead him and his master into "The Adventures of Tintin." Back when director Steven Spielberg released his first Indiana Jones movie, his attention was called to Hergé's series of Belgian comics by a critic. Thirty years later Spielberg makes his first foray into animation with a script (Steven Moffat (TV's 'Coupling,' 'Doctor Who') and Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") & Joe Cornish ("Attack the Block")) based on three of the original stories from the 1940s ('The Crab with the Golden Claws,' 'The Secret of the Unicorn' and 'Red Rackham's Treasure') and 3D motion capture animation from producer Peter Jackson's Weta Digital. The result is nothing short of exhilarating and a new surefire franchise is born. It's easy to compare Tintin's adventures to those of Indiana Jones as he's kidnapped, put onboard the SS Karaboudjan by Sakharine, who holds a 2nd model, escapes on a lifeboat with the Karaboudjan's inebriated Scottish Captain Haddock (voice of Andy Serkis, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes") and Snowy only to crash land a hijacked seaplane in a Moroccan desert. Spielberg controlled camera movement with a device like a videogame console and he knows how to stage action, making us duck under the onslaught of approaching traffic or lifting our stomachs in the air with an outrageous escape from the palace of Omar Ben Salaad (Gad Elmaleh, "The Valet") with Tintin, Haddock and Snowy swooping down to the port of Bagghar using whatever comes to hand. The animation combines both the look of the original drawings for color and characters and photorealism for such things as the ocean. Here's an experience that the 3D really helps pop - combined with an IMAX screen this could be the ultimate popcorn thrill. If there's a weak point, though, it could be the character of Tintin himself - he's a rather bland goody two shoes type ('Great snakes!' being his exclamation of choice) who becomes a magnet for far more interesting types like the comical, alliterative Haddock and bumbling detectives Thompson (voice of Simon Pegg, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol") and Thomson (voice of Nick Frost, "Shaun of the Dead," "Paul") who look like twinned British versions of Popeye's hamburger loving Wimpy. Snowy is a delight - Spielberg's film should escalate him to U.S. stardom.

Robin's Review: D

Multi-hyphenate filmmaker Robert Rodriguez has created an amazing empire catering to his own particular whims ever since his breakthrough, no-budget debut, “El Mariachi.” That little hit spawned the remainder of his Mexican trilogy (“Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”) and allowed him to create his extraordinarily successful “Spy Kids” franchise, which ended with “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over” where Rodriguez got his taste for three-dimensional filmmaking. In The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D” he has joined forces with his young son, Racer, to bring a child’s dreams to the big screen. Some dreams, however, are better left unrealized. I won’t go into the story in any detail just because it is too disjointed and mostly a visual roller coaster ride augmented by wearing the silly 3-D glasses. The film is populated by a gaggle of children that apparently have no prior acting experience before appearing in “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D.” Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner (Shark Boy) and Taylor Dooley (Lava Girl), along with the rest of the kid cast, are two-dimensional stick figures mired in a sea of in-your-face digital special effects. Technically, the film is innovative, but the lack of believable (or, even likable) characters (with one exception: George Lopez in the combined role as schoolteacher, Mr. Electricidad, and the big bad guy, Mr. Electric) is a definite turnoff for parents burdened with taking the younger kids to this painfully boring (for anyone older than a tyke) movie. The only draw to see “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D,” and only if you are 7-years old or less, is the high gloss special effects and the chance to experience a 3-D movie. For the rest of us age 8 on up, I advise you to find a volunteer to shepherd the little ones see this and go take in something, anything, else instead. The tykes might like it but