Jonathan Melville: Mo-cap misses the target

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SOMETIMES looks can be deceiving. That’s something that struck me after watching The Adventures of Tintin this week, the computer-animated motion capture form of Jamie Bell leading the way in a swashbuckling, continent-hopping, adventure that doesn’t pause for breath.

With a budget of around $100m and a cast including Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg, the film is a high quality production from start to finish and it’s hard not to be impressed at the lush visuals directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

So why, barely five minutes after leaving the cinema, had I almost forgotten the previous hour and 50 minutes?

The plot just about held together; the film rattles along so fast it’s best to just accept that it all makes sense. Sort-of...

Generally I have no problem believing in characters in animated films. WALL-E had me captivated from the first scene; the Toy Story team are like old friends and it’s been too long since I last watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Perhaps it’s that Tintin just isn’t a very engaging character, appearing fully formed with little explanation as to why he’s getting involved in the mystery.

Haddock doesn’t fare much better, his main characteristic being that he’s an alcoholic. And the baddie? He’s just bad. Full stop.

Of course, as an old school Spielberg fan brought up on the first three Indiana Jones films, it feels wrong to have the action scenes made on a computer. No flesh and blood actors. No stunt people. No tension. No reality.

For any film to work there should be something to latch on to. That could be a great performance, some genuine emotion or something indefinable.

Tintin may look nice and the inevitable theme park ride should be fun, but that’s about it.