First Tintin Reviews: Spielberg's Hergé Adaptation Reminiscent of Indiana Jones, But Is the Mo-Cap Up to Snuff?

The first batch of reviews are in for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Steven Spielberg's long-awaited big-budget adventure that attempts to revive the charming Hergé character (first introduced in 1929) with the most advanced motion capture technology money can buy. So what did the earlybird critics have to say?

Thanks in part to the director's storytelling ability, the well-executed action sequences (sometimes done in impossibly long takes) and the brilliance of mo-cap king Andy Serkis, it sounds as though the first Tintin has succeeded as an entertaining Spielberg film. But because of the limitations of motion capture -- even in its most advanced current state -- Tintin also fails to meet the revolutionary filmmaking expectations set for Spielberg's first foray into the format.

Following the first screening in Belgium on October 10, a number of reviews have surfaced ranging from mixed-positive to positive. The most critical write-up of the film yet comes from The Telegraph which gave Tintin a 3/5 rating:

...there's a mechanistic quality to Spielberg's craft that's undoubtedly disappointing: a film directed by one such distinctive artist and based on the work of another shouldn't feel like it could have been made by almost anyone.

The main personality-stifler is the film's use of performance capture; the method by which the cast's movements and expressions have been translated into computer-generated visuals. However much more successful the technique is here than it has been elsewhere, crucially it's not successful enough: even if Jamie Bell wasn't so monotonously earnest as Tintin, he'd still look about as conscious as a bollard with a quiff.

Even so, the U.K. paper notes that the film's "breakneck pace" works favorably and that the "stuffiest 3-D refuseniks" will appreciate "a terrific motorbike chase through a Moroccan marketplace, presented in one impossible, continuous take" and a "hallucinatory sequence that brings galleons crashing through the moonlit Saharan dunes is pure blockbusting spectacle."

Variety is more forgiving of the motion capture, noting that audiences might question the format until "Snowy, Tintin's faithful white terrier, performs antics not even the best-trained pooch could perform and the sets, stunts and action sequences become ever more lavish."

"The worst" that Variety says of the film is that "the action is so relentless, it nearly comes to feel like a videogame as it leaps from one challenge to the next." Even so, the "consistently stylish and richly detailed design work" will more than make up for the pace.

Like other reviewers, HitFix claims that Tintin follows the original Indiana Jones template more than the Spielberg franchise's last, disappointing installment Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, "in which Harrison Ford's eyes appeared deader than those of any mo-cap mannequin."

HitFix also credits Spielberg for sharing Hergé's "story-loyal earnestness," a commonality which allows the charming cartoon character to make his hi-tech feature film debut organically enough. Even if the mo-cap characters are not that appealing, the "film's smashing key set piece [...] fully justify this technological leap of faith, while also successfully adapting the distinctive flat-color textures of Hergé's trademark ligne claire drawing style."

And then there are the unabashed raves from ("The Adventures of Tintin is an absolute belter. [...] It's slick, exciting, laugh-out-loud funny, sympathetic to its origins, superbly voiced and leaves you wanting more.") and The Sun ("...laughs aplenty.")

Which review do you trust most?

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will continue premiering overseas this month until it finally reaches U.S. theaters on December 21.

· The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn - review [The Telegraph]

· The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn [Variety]

· Review: Fun, frisky 'Tintin' pages Indiana Jones [Hitfix]