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Posted at 11:52 PM ET, 12/20/2011

‘TINTIN’s’ EXCELLENT ADVENTURE: Will a motion-captured comic ring true with viewers?

Michael Cavna.


Tintin is perhaps Belgium’s most famous icon. (HERGE/MOULINSART 2004 - AP)

THE MOST COMPELLING STORY-LINE behind “Tintin” is not whether the baddies capture our boy hero — it’s whether Steven Spielberg’s motion captures him. So whether you like the animated “Adventures of Tintin” that opens Wednesday or not-so-much, it’s worth remembering one thing:

Spielberg is the guy that Tintin’s creator himself apparently wanted for this gig.

Talk about a “clear line” of succession.

As Post film critic Ann Hornaday writes in today’s review: “Reportedly, the Belgian cartoon artist Hergé expressed interest in having his most famous creation, Tintin, brought to life by” Spielberg.

So is it a good thing or bad thing that Hergé (aka Georges Rem) — who died in 1983 — isn’t with us to see his popular characters transformed to director Spielberg’s performance-capture pixels?

“Sadly, Hergé isn’t around to see ... Spielberg’s crisp, richly rendered animated adaptation, which could be counted as both a success and a failure,” Hornaday writes. “Spielberg has brought Tintin to the big screen all right, but not quite to life.”

That seems to be a common sentiment among critics, many of whom praise the 101-minute film’s breakneck speed, unfettered flight and swashbuckling gusto. The derring-do is a daring to-do.

Yet beneath the sleek surface, Hornaday writes: “Precious little is really at stake. And the film’s motion-capture technology, while impressive, is almost too silkily seamless, making all the hectic action on screen seem oddly cold and distant.”

So in the wake of such mo-cap films as “Polar Express” and “Mars Needs Moms,” the question persists: Does “Tintin” succeed where others have fallen?

Numerous reviewers seemed divided about the film, with the majority of them falling on the favorable side of the fault line. Critics give “Tintin” a 77-percent “fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com (where the audience provides an 85-percent “want-to-see” score). And on Metacritic.com, the PG-rated film — which stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Simon — gets an “68” metascore.

“Adventures of Tintin” is based largely on Hergé’s “Secret of the Unicorn” story, in which skulduggery abounds in pursuit of model Unicorn ships. Peter Jackson produced, but reportedly will move into the director’s chair if there's a sequel.

And on that count, it’s worth remembering: No matter how “Tintin” fares on American shores, it’s already done especially well with audiences in Europe, where the film opened weeks ago — tapping the high familiarity and fandom of the comic.

Globally, “Tintin” has grossed more than nearly a quarter-million dollars worldwide.

Great snakes, we smell sequel.

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A student looks at a lightbox depicting the comic strip character Tintin by Brussels-born author Georges Remi, better known as Herge, at the Herge Museum in Louvain-La-Neuve in December. (YVES HERMAN - REUTERS)
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By  |  11:52 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Tags:  tintin, herge, stephen spielberg, peter jackson

 
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