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December 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

After already garnering much critical praise overseas — as well as $230 million — Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin has arrived in America, and the reviews are decidedly mixed. The New York Times‘s Manohla Dargis calls it “a marvel of gee-wizardry” but suggests that represents a serious problem. The performance-capture technology that Spielberg employs, she writes, makes the Tintin character appear “lifelike but without the pulse of real life” — a contrast to the original pen drawings by the Belgian artist Hergé, which represented simplicity itself. Moreover, she adds, like the character, “the movie proves less than inviting because it’s been so wildly overworked.” Claudia Puig in USA Today says that as a result, “the audience winds up feeling exhausted.” She acknowledges “the technical artistry” evident on the screen “concludes that “the film lacks a sense of magic, intrigue and mystery.” Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune calls Spielberg’s decision to use motion-capture technology “dubious,” noting that unlike most animated movies, “the action and violence has a clinical, photo-realistic quality, so that a two-second gag involving a cat sinking its claws into a human face elicits a wince rather than a laugh.” Phillips complains that after years of trying and millions of dollars of expense, the creators of mo-cap films “still can’t get the teeth or the eyes right.” But you’d think that other critics saw a completely different film. “The effects suit the material perfectly,” writes Amy Biancolli in the San Francisco Chronicle. They “avoid, in large part, the beastly ‘dead eyes’ that tend to plague performance capture.” Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, who calls the movie “one of the year’s most pleasurable family friendly experiences, praises Spielberg for using the technology “with subtlety and, yes, artistry.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times writes that the mo-cap process permitted Spielberg to create a world “halfway between the cartoon and the real” and, while acknowledging that some adults may complain about overdoing things a bit, “the child in us will be delighted.”