Tintin’s high adventure ends on a spectacular action finale, two enemies by their ancestors duking it out with with cranes on a shipping yard. Before that, Tintin is stuck in a dazzling chase sequence, one involving being rundown by rogue buildings and an influx of water in the city center. Even before that, there’s a sea battle, where a pirate ship is entangled with another, only to be swung around like a carnival ride… while on fire.
Words don’t give those scenes the justice they deserve, with unreal technical mastery and inventive means to an end. It’s the type of thing Indiana Jones could have found himself caught up in had Spielberg not nuked him in a fridge. Even in this fantastical, slightly real world European namesake, there’s a better base of logic than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The irony of that is French film critics would often compare the wild, snappy adventures of Indiana Jones to Tintin; it’s a cultural mainstay overseas, not so much in the States. For mass appeal, Tintin introduces the sly intelligence of the character behind the opening credits, in and of itself telling a brisker action set piece than most of Hollywood will push out in the summer months.
Tintin wastes no time getting to the heart of it, a chance meeting a flea market, unexpected interest in a model ship, and suddenly characters are globe trotting for treasure. It’s mesmerizing to watch this unfold, that brief slow burn with snippets of humor enough to understand the realities of this lightly slapstick-y world and sudden dive into the realm of hidden treasure.
The “spared no expense” attitude melds a boisterous John Williams score with staggering motion capture. It makes Polar Express look positively quaint by comparison. It allows a world to breathe and come alive, dynamic camera motions never letting Tintin rest. Those sensitive to exaggerated motion on screen should be aware. This one never settles down, creating picturesque views of its lively, enjoyable character roster.
What becomes most important to Tintin’s success is that it doesn’t waste anything. Something as seemingly inconspicuous as Snowy (the dog) finding a hole in a brick wall comes around to book-end the story. That attention to the minutiae gives the piece a tighter narrative life, nothing wasted, everything earned.
Startling. That’s Tintin in HD. No matter how jaded of a format follower you are, discs like this reinvigorate that inner videophile geek and get him riled for more. This is well beyond typical animated fare, both for that attention to realism that adds the miniscule details and the bold, deep color that layers the screen with vivid saturation.
There’s nothing here that screams “wrong,” maybe that pesky aliasing that occurs all of twice if you need something to look for. The reality is that Tintin is a marvel, with bold shots of shipyards that drip with fine, precision lines and cities that are visible miles into the distance. Nothing is lost. Up close, the intricacy of the animation is brought up to the fullest potential of the format. Clothing is woven, facial detail has been laid on thick, streets are dusty, and wood is eerily real.
More than that, this AVC encode is bright, full of life and contrast that causes it to peer out from a 2D screen. The way the film is lit gives objects a natural boldness, while black levels preserve pristine shadows. All of those scenes either within the interior of the ship or exteriors at night are breathtaking, just as vibrant and rich as those in heavier light.
There is so much to look at and take in, the intensity of the colors never wasted. From those heated deserts to frigid oceans, Tintin never settles into basic, restrictive palettes. Primaries are always active, as if diluting them would take away their majesty. That’s the proper way to handle such family friendly material, never dreary and always attention grabbing.
Cannons. Oh, lovely cannons. Why are you so rarely put to use for us lowly home theater owners? Tintin breaks out though, having no problem with blasting the subwoofer a little with raw, powerful jolts as ships begin their combat. They crash into each other, swell as they near the viewing point, and explode in a flurry of LFE bliss.
That’s not even it with the city chase building up roaring engines and sliding buildings cascading down hills. While said destruction could use a little more oomph, what’s there is enough to sell the effect.
Restricting this in a discussion of a singular aspect isn’t fair, since it’s ignoring the full potential of this invigorating 7.1 experience. Nothing here is missed, even down to precise positional dialogue on occasion. While light chatter or people calling from the front door may not present themselves as demonstration material, choices continue their rise. Flashbacks with pirate battles clang swords together as if the disc had been working at this art form for decades. The truth of it is that a sound mixer can take a bow.
There’s a little of everything in use here, from gunfire to a healthy thunderstorm trapping an out of control plane. The latter creates a need for desperation maneuvers, the aircraft buzzing around until it reaches a peak and then drifts away until another round. It’s magnificent execution.
While the menu may seem bulky, the reality is that the 11 sections worth of featurettes blend together nicely to create one 90-minute documentary. Following the production from the first toast to the last, in-between is technical details, Tintin historical facts, motion capture explanations, and profiles on those involved. An A for effort.
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