While I’d heard that the new movie “The Adventures of Tintin” was based on comic book adventures created by 20th century Belgian artist George Remi under the pen name Hergé, I hadn’t seen any of his work until stumbling a few weeks ago on a pair of related titles at the Book Gallery’s Mesa location.
I was apprehensive about seeing “The Adventures of Tintin” after hearing that it’s a mystery meets action adventure film. I’m not particularly fond of either genre, mostly because I’m bad at following clues and even worse at enduring vicarious chaos.
But I was pleasantly surprised that the tender little package, wrapped in mustardy yellow and equivalent shades of blue and red, is a rare blend of mystery and action adventure with old-fashioned storytelling. A charming opening sequence featuring old-fashioned typewriter keys pounding out Tintin’s boyish bravado hastened my conversion.
“The Adventures of Tintin” feels first and foremost like the simple tale of a curious young boy named Tintin and his loyal pup Snowy, but it’s also the tale of Captain Haddock, a man left alone in the world to face his family’s unfinished business. Through his journey, we’re reminded of the power of personal choice — and the value of holding tight to a puppy when seas get rough.
Haddock delivers the most obvious messages of the movie, which always feel organic rather than contrived, and never interrupt the pace of the chase. When you hit a wall, break through it. Don’t glorify giving up by labeling it “realism.” And know that what you think of youself influences your vibe with others.
Plenty of synapses fired while watching “The Adventures of Tintin,” but I couldn’t always make the connections. Several action sequences, bits of music and other elements felt vaguely familiar, in a nostalgic way, but often I was caught up in the next moment before realizing the intended reference. There’s an extra layer in “The Adventures of Tintin” for folks with lots of film and music experience.
Parents should know that “The Adventures of Tintin” (rated PG) has several scenes featuring fist fights, sword battles and rapid exchanges of gunfire. Also fire, explosions and such — all well-integrated into the story and none particularly frightening for elementary age kids and up because only animated characters take the hit.
“The Adventures of Tintin” is full of tools young adventurers can relate to — magnifiying glasses, flashlights, maps and more. When Tintin can’t find what he’s looking for, he asks questions, hits the local library or doggedly hunts down missing clues.
Adults too reliant on four letters will discover new options as frustrated characters belt out alternatives like “Great snakes!” or “Thundering typhoons!” And literature lovers will revel in long strings of Shakespearean-like insults shared by pirates, bumbling detectives and a pickpocket who explains “I’m not a bad person, I’m a kleptomaniac.”
I saw “The Adventures of Tintin” with my college-age son, who shared his thoughts about the movie as we walked back to the car. “It reminded me,” he said, “of how I was as a little boy.” Not to worry, Christopher. That unsatiable curiosity is still there. And life with you will always be an adventure.
Note: “Tintin” is Jamie Bell, known to Broadway fans for his performance in the film version of “Billy Elliot.” The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and features music by composer John Williams. It’s rated PG.
Coming up: Once upon a “War Horse”