**1/2 (out of four)
Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) might be charming if he were an overachieving school kid with a passion for the truth and a trusty pooch sidekick named Snowy to help him out of a jam.
In actuality, Tintin’s a young reporter who has his own apartment and gun, with no discernible past or friends. The guy lives for adventure and apparently has unlimited time and resources to travel the world on any mission that captures his interest, without realizing that a reporter isn’t a cop and can still cover the story if the bad guy wins. (Side note: Is Snowy on the newspaper’s payroll, and with what do they pay him?)
In director Steven Spielberg’s 3-D animated mystery, based on the book series by Herge, Tintin’s curiosity about a model ship leads him to drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and an ages-old mystery they chase over land and sea and sky as a ruthless villain (Daniel Craig) follows in hot pursuit.
Co-written by Steven Moffat (creator of the British series “Coupling” and lead writer for “Doctor Who”), “Hot Fuzz” director Edgar Wright and “Attack the Block” director Joe Cornish, Tintin offers the persistent presence of mild cleverness (best gag: a sailor who’s a restless sleeper because he lost his eyelids in a card game) without ever being truly funny, especially when repeatedly leaning on Haddock’s drunkenness for jokes.
Spielberg’s action sequences also move swiftly without really exploding off the screen, no matter how lively the animation or energetic the voice work. The story’s not as absurd and overextended as Spielberg’s “War Horse,” opening Christmas Day, but it’s also a pretty ordinary caper lacking emotional involvement.
Tintin may be an international man of mystery who looks like a redheaded, animated Neil Patrick Harris, but he can’t overcome the sense that we don’t care if he succeeds.
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