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The Adventures of Tintin 3D & War Horse

The Adventures of Tintin is nominated for Best Original Score at the 84th Annual Academy Awards…          You can’t help but feel that it should have been a little bit better. I mean here is the world’s most renowned director venturing into animation AND 3D territory for the very first time. Would it feel more sprightly if not helmed by the man who gave us Indiana Jones? Hard to say. But the connection is unmissable…fair or not. Apparently it was this similarity that brought the Tintin comics to the attention of Spielberg in the first place, so it can’t be ignored. Exotic locations, breakneck chases and hidden treasures…all there. It’s fun, but still feels a tad cold. Maybe the process is to blame(motion-capture records human actors and then digitally animates the characters)? Certainly looks cool, but falls somewhat flat. Some very good actors supply the voice work here. Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Toby Jones and Jaime Bell, among others. And after the usual mumbo-jumbo with hidden scrolls and dastardly villains, you’ve had a pretty good time. However, I was not left with an itch for the next Tintin adventure, which I’m certain was the goal. The charm is missing and the heart is just not there. And the thrill of 3D continues to elude me. Intended to be the first of many…I say these Adventures are fine ending right here.               War Horse is nominated for Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Original Score, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing at the 84th Annual Academy Awards…          He must have felt so terrible about his long hiatus(2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was his only feature of the last SIX years)that he decided to give us two. Spielberg has done this twofer deal before, most recently in 2005 with “War of the Worlds” and “Munich”. But those were released six months apart, whereas for “Tintin” and “War Horse” we are talking about six days. That’s a tall order for film-goers during the overstuffed holiday movie season. The result of this tactic? Both films did respectable business, but neither caught enough fire to break the 100 million barrier in the States(overseas business, to be fair, was more fruitful). And I enjoyed much of “War Horse” a great deal…until a limp finale. Designed to tug at the heart-strings, it just plucks them gently. It needed a bigger splash for its denouement. But up until then it’s mostly good. All Fordian sweep and lush John Williams score. Earthy cinematography that you can almost feel. Of course, Steven S works out his daddy issues for the umpteenth time(is there a film in his oeuvre that doesn’t feature damaged or absent dads?)—both Tintin and this have raging alcoholic father figures. That’s a lot of booze consumed for a pair of so-called children’s stories. But as Albert(Jeremy Irvine)raises his equine friend(dubbed Joey), you’ll find yourself rooting for both of them and the soused pop too. C’mon—is there ever a doubt that that field will get plowed? The onslaught of WW I soon separate boy and pet, and Joey encounters a series of adventures where the film shifts focus to the horse’s point-of-view. Spielberg is a master at working this stuff and things prove mostly vibrant and poignant. A late film rush involving bombs and barbed wire showcases the director at the top of his game. But the wrap-up is fumbled and feels forced, which keeps W.H. from reaching the upper rung of Spielberg’s resume, even if you choose to switch the blame to the source story and not the man himself. You’ll get some solid vintage Spielberg here, but also a grasp for greatness that never quite grabs hold.      The Adventures of Tintin   Grade: B-     War Horse     Grade:  B+

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4 comments on “The Adventures of Tintin 3D & War Horse

  1. War Horse, eh? Leaving a screening of The Descendents I heard one slightly older lady complaining about Tree of Life. Her friend of a similar age turned and said, “You wanna see a BAD movie? Go see War Horse. Ugh. What a piece of garbage that was!” I wasn’t able to hear her more nuanced critique, but other random people overheard in movie theaters generally disliked War Horse a lot.

    • Brian, you are not REALLY coming to me with general public reviews, are you? If the average movie-goer tells me how much they disliked something like “The Tree of Life”, it means absolutely NOTHING to me. You should realize that by now. However, if you see “War Horse”, I would love for you to share your opinion. ML

  2. Finally got to see War Horse last night and enjoyed it. I was a bit confused at the beginning because of their accents. Depending upon the moment they seemed to vary between British and Irish so the setting was unclear to me until the war began. All said it was worth watching.

  3. Better late than never, Chris! I admired it’s old-fashioned, romantic sweep…very John Ford. Don’t know if you’ve seen “Lincoln” yet, but I believe that are on a par quality-wise. Thanks for checking in! ML

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