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It’s too bad Steven Spielberg didn’t make a Tintin movie in 1981, when adventure stories were still bound by the laws of physics. You can, after all, see a lot of Tintin in the first and third Indiana Jones films. But this classic creation of the Belgian cartoonist Hergé isn’t really on evidence in Spielberg’s latest 21st-century monstrosity, The Adventures of Tintin, which, with its performance-capture animation and ludicrous action sequences, basically feels like The Polar Express on methamphetamines. In one scene that isn’t even the film’s most ridiculous, a pirate ship and a trading galley lock masts as they duel, so that the former vessel is able to swing above the latter like a pendulum (also, they’re both on fire). In another, Tintin—that plucky young gumshoe!—drives his motorbike off a balcony, catches a clothesline with the handlebar to ride it like a zip-line, and somehow manages to land in his foes’ escaping vehicle. This film isn’t really interested in Hergé’s themes of imperial decline and intercontinental intrigue. It doesn’t seem to care much for Tintin as a detective, either, even if it finds a couple occasions for him to deploy a magnifying glass. When the film reaches its denouement—in which Tintin’s compatriot Captain Haddock and their enemy Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine fight using shipping cranes as proxies—you’ll wonder why Spielberg didn’t bother throwing in a nuke-repellent fridge. By that point, it’d hardly be a stretch.
The film shows all week at area theaters.