So, you might be asking, "Who the heck is this Tintin?" No, he's not the offspring of Rin Tin Tin, the German shepherd action star of old Hollywood fame. Although that was my first thought, too.
Tintin, of "The Adventures of Tintin," was the hero of a series of popular Belgian comic books that featured a young cub reporter and his trusty fox terrier, Snowy. Just think Hardy Boys meet Indiana Jones, minus the bullwhip, Dr. Jones and one of the boys. Preferably the younger blond one, Joe. He wasn't my favorite.
In his many adventures, Tintin is a bright young man of indeterminate age, who works tirelessly solving cases using his investigative journalistic skills, but never seems to actually file a story.
He's bright, resourceful, well-read, has great instincts and seems to have no fear. These attributes will all come in handy as he tries to uncover the secrets of a model ship called the Unicorn.
He will be shot at, smacked around and kidnapped as some nefarious elements try to figure out what he knows. Of course, Tintin's curiosity will be roused as he's drawn into this age-old mystery.
Eventually, Tintin (Jamie Bell) meets up with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), who is more interested in whiskey than the whereabouts of two other model ships that may hold clues to a vast treasure.
The evil Ivan Sakharine (Daniel Craig) knows the tiny ships hold the key, but something specifically refers to the boozy ol' Captain Haddock, which explains why he hasn't been thrown into the sea long before now.
This is one busy little movie -- Tintin, Snowy and Haddock have to work their way out of several tight spots. In fact, you may want to sit more toward the back of the theater to keep from getting dizzy; it's that frantic.
It's all shot in that motion-capture technique that was used in "The Polar Express" and Jim Carrey's "A Christmas Carol." The vacant-eyed look that was so troubling in those earlier films seems to have been improved upon.
This is the first animated feature Steven Spielberg has ever done -- and the first time he's worked with Peter Jackson of "Lord of the Rings" fame.
Also keep in mind that, even though it looks cartoonish, I don't think younger kids (say under 5) will have as much fun because of how complicated the mystery becomes. Sure, they'll love the parts where Snowy is getting into and out of trouble, but the detailed particulars might be a bit over their heads, and it could feel a little long for them.
It is beautifully rendered, plus it sounds and looks like a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" movie, thanks to a John Williams score and Spielberg's love for action/adventure.
So check out "The Adventures of Tintin" -- a high-energy animated experience that's been a long time coming and did come across many oceans to get here.