THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN REMASTERED Blu-ray review
Tintin - well the name speaks for itself. He is the beloved creation of master artist Hergé, spanning the globe effortlessly, uncovering plots and criminal activities in one fell swoop all the while surrounded by some colorful and consistent characters that neither aid nor impede him.
The animated series commissioned in 1991 has all the after-school elements. They are watered-down versions of the iconic comics with the political subtexts barely evident. Each episode is faithful to the times, set during the 20th century despite some wondrous events, the world Tintin inhabits is quite realistic and covers some major historical moments including Cuba's overthrow, Japan's Manchurian invasion and many more, although mostly taking the backseat for the simplistic plot. Despite the assumed heaviness, Tintin is actually easy viewing, you never really feel Tintin is in peril, although he constantly appears to be knocking on deaths door getting him and his companion hound Snowy into some very tight situations, that are seemingly resolved and literally laughed off, although not without some bruises. It is for this reason that Tintin himself could be considered the toughest and bravest cartoon character of all time, he takes no prisoners and quickly recovers from devastating attacks and missteps, nary considering the implications of his potential demise.
Every episode ends bitter-sweet too - the crime is half solved, some men have been put behind bars, but more often than not Tintin's work is never done, particularly during the two-parter episodes of which there are quite a few, and good thing too as 21 episodes initially felt sort of sparse. Some comics were never adapted for the screen, perhaps their political message was too strong for the Nickelodeon-esque audience of the day, Tintin in the land of the soviets and Tintin in the congo come to mind.
The Adventures of Tintin is also a very formulaic show, perhaps more so than the comics. A problem is presented with a possible solution but then some complication, danger followed by reconnaissance, light espionage and finally some sort of resolution. Almost every episode follows these rules with the exception of the really interesting ones like Tintin and the shooting star, which feels like a bad trip the best of times as he explores a chunk of a world-ending meteor that crashes into the Atlantic ocean. The mysteries certainly work better than the straight-up crime capers. Luckily, and particularly after the first disc there are plenty of bizarre and engaging episodes that test Tintin's detective skills and the reliance of his friends such as the wonderfully alcoholic Haddock and the bumbling Professor Calculus.
Regardless, Tintin is the moral compass in this story, incorruptible and untouchable, with Snowy his ever faithful sidekick. This ultra-innocence really invoked pangs of nostalgia, it was nice to see this classic get the remastered treatment, but on the other hand there were also adult elements that really made me laugh.
Firstly, there were so many inane moments in the show I failed to grasp as a kid. In particular the caricatured and border-line racism of every single villain hailing from different parts of the world, I had to really burst into laughter at the Japanese criminal mastermind, with his ridiculously racist slanted eyes and long teeth appeared, but I digress. Other inane moments included an Australian assassin employed by Al Capone who tried to kill Tintin with a boomerang, yes you read that right. The G rated dialogue was also something to marvel at too, particularly in the hypocrisy it created with the cut-throat murderous villains speaking gently and with minor threats.
But these were all part and parcel of 90's western animation and going with the flow it was easy to have a great time with this acceptable level of cheesiness.
Onto the remastered component. Firstly the not so great. Tintin's sound quality has not really improved any, not that there was anything wrong with it, just nothing noticable here. Secondly, some scenes randomly degrade in quality, looking like something from a SD PAL television. But the remastered ultimately works. The mostly HD presentation is crystal clear and super sharp, working in favour of Hergé's simplistic drawings the animation was inspired from.
Inane moments and minor formulaic presentation aside, Tintin really does have bizarre pacing. Despite all of this I still highly, highly recommend this as one of the best Blu-ray purchases for Xmas, it is an undisputed classic, rife with good old fashioned fun and presented beautifully. Word of advice though - just watch each episode or two-parter over a period of time, it does not work to watch The Adventures of Tintin all at once, and it spoils the lovely buzz that you do get from it, savor it!