We saw The Adventures of Tintin last night, and didn’t care.
It’s kind of weird, because Tintin was supposed to be thrilling! Full of chills! A wild, Raiders-style whoop-it-up where you get even crazier stunts!
The problem was that none of these stunts actually happened.
Watching Tintin, I saw a lot of cartoon bodies careening about, but as wonderfully rendered and animated as they were, they were still CGI. You see a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you know subliminally that somewhere, a stunt man put himself in danger for this. There’s a real guy under the truck, a real set of spinning blades, people fighting for balance to not fall off the plane.
Whereas Tintin had bigger stunts, but they were all hollow. I kept looking up admiringly, saying, “That’s nice setwork” – but I never really felt like these floppy CGI ragdolls were in any danger, nor did I care. People soared and sailed in a meticulously-choreographed stunts, but why was I invested? Tintin and Captain Haddock had were more random collections of plot hooks and traits than real people, so it certainly wasn’t that I was invested in their goals. This was such a happy-fresh movie that it was apparent that Goodness Would Win from the opening credits, so it wasn’t like I was worried they’d lose.
(And yes, it’s a comic book movie. I’m aware of the origins. But as an introduction to these comic book characters, I didn’t much care for Intrepid Boy Reporter Tintin, and Captain Haddock was amusing sidekick relief but so goofy that I wrote him off. It may be accurate, but it didn’t really grab me.)
I’m not saying that CGI leads to not caring. I mean, Gini and I nearly wept with tension at the end of Toy Story 3, where the toys were in the garbage heap. But if you’re going to treat your characters as comic relief for the entire film, with only brief and obligatory pitstops at the well of We Will Show Our Interior Pain For Thirty Seconds, then I’m not going to care at all.
Whereas with a lot of terrible action films that absolutely no characterization, my reptile brain is still tickled during the action sequences because I go, “Holy crap, someone’s in danger.” More often than not it’s the stunt guy, but when someone’s hanging off a building, there’s all of these subtle cues that tell me to worry. And I do.
It was interesting. Adventures of Tintin should have been riveting. Everything was bigger than Raiders. But somehow, it wound up being smaller. And I worry this is what Spielberg and Lucas wanted from Star Wars and Raiders in the first place.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.