DVD Review: The Adventures of Tintin (Season One)

The latest hype from Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin is that his movie will introduce America to an international sensation. Really? We’re supposed to believe that the Belgian character of Tintin has never had a true chance to reach a mass audience in America outside of comic books smuggled from Europe by army brats? Spielberg must not have owned a TV set in the early ‘90s otherwise he would have known that the animated The Adventures of Tintin ran for three seasons on HBO and Nickelodeon. There are plenty of Americans that grew up watching the mysteries unravel. Spielberg’s creepy performance capture 3-D film isn’t an alien concept to these shores. The Adventures of Tintin: Season One covers the three stories used in Spielberg’s movie along with four others. The Oscar winner doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s retreading.

“The Crab with the Golden Claws” wasn’t the first installment, but it introduces the vital character of Captain Haddock. Tintin is a boyish reporter with a faithful dog named Snowy and a nose for trouble. His main source for leads are the Thompson twins. They’re a pair of matching detectives. They’re hot on a case involving a boat’s name on a ripped label from a can of crab meat. His poking around gets him kidnapped and tossed on the ship. Captain Haddock is the drunk at the wheel who is getting duped by his crew. They’re secretly running drugs. Can Tintin sober up the captain so they can stop the operation? “The Secret of the Unicorn” uncovers a Haddock family secret. Captain Haddock inherited a riddle from the 17th century Sir Francis Haddock. The answer should lead them to the treasure of pirate Red Rackham. Part of the riddle involves three models of Rackham’s ship The Unicorn. While it could be easy, turns out evildoers are also looking for the ship models. “Red Rackham’s Treasure” finishes up the previous treasure hunt. The big add is Professor Calculus. He assists the underwater action with a shark-shaped mini-submarine. These three adventures are what makes up Spielberg’s Tintin movie.

“Cigars of the Pharaoh” brings on the mummy action. Tintin bumps into an Egyptologist with clues on how to locate a hidden tomb of Pharaoh Kih-Osks. But turns out that the people wrapped up might be fresher than King Tut. This is the introduction of the Thompson Twins (the detectives and not the ‘80s band). “The Blue Lotus” is the followup to “Cigars.” Tintin is looking for a gang of drug smugglers. He’s tracked the action down to China during the time the Japanese military was an occupying force. This almost seems like a child’s version of The French Connection. “The Black Island” allow Snowy the dog to shine. The duo head to a Scottish island looking for a mysterious beast and a gang of counterfeiters. “The Calculus Affair” investigates why glass and china shatters in Tintin’s neighborhood. He suspects Professor Calculus might have an invention that explains the wreckage. Before Tintin can get an answer, he’s off on an international adventure pursing Calculus.

The Adventures of Tintin: Season One is rather faithful to the original comics in both storylines and illustrations. There are slight changes, but nothing that makes you feel like you need to read the books to get the whole story. The artwork captures the forms and colors of the comics. Why would anyone deal with the hassle of going to the movie theater to see the queasy characters created on a computer? There’s a warmth to the 2-D animation. Maybe if Spielberg had watching HBO in the early ‘90s, he’d realize there was no need to “improve” Tintin since the series brought the pages into motion.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is fine a little smutz on the animation cells. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The levels are fine for an audio track completely created in studio. There’s a Spanish dub track.

No bonus features.

The Adventures of Tintin: Season One captures all that’s captivating about the Belgian comic book. The animation is based off the characters so the panels come alive on the TV screen. The boxset is cheaper than buying tickets for an Imax 3-D screening.

Shout! Factory presents The Adventures of Tintin: Season One Starring: Colin O’Meara, Susan Roman, David Fox and Wayne Roson. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: November 22, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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