Tintin is quite a grand adventure film with emphasis on the grand. While not quite as hyperbolic as a film like the Blues Brothers, nor nearly so comedic it still has a sense of enormity and exaggeration demonstrated best by the climactic scene where two of the characters duel with cranes, that is duel with giant construction cranes meant from moving literal tons of shipping containers. It does work well for the aesthetic though, which sits at a comfortable spot between cartoons and real life, which the immense nature serves to compliment.
I should qualify this by saying that I'm not too familiar with the comic, so any information regarding it may be hearsay. The film begins with a stunning animated credits sequence, something which is often overlooked especially in recent films. I wish we could have more films like this and Psycho which place importance on the opening credits, and try to set a tone and style before the actual film has even started. The sequence features a number of panels from the comics, as well as a few shout-outs to other films, and on a whole the team behind it deserve some applause.
Then we have a nice introductory scene showcasing the fairly impressive computer graphics, with the slightly weird juxtaposition of cartoony faces on realistic bodies. The art style really is photo-realistic at times, but at others strives away from realism, almost confused about what exactly it wants to be. The one thing that is fairly consistently done well however is the eyes, finally going beyond the uncanny valley, something that rarely anyone but Pixar has done well. It also shows an important side character, a pickpocket, and demonstrates Snowy the dog's intelligence.
The plot itself is fairly standard adventure fair, and would not be totally out of place in an Indiana Jones film, if the artifact they were pursuing was religious. I realize that the plot is from the 30's, but because of Speilberg's influence there are some scenes very obviously inspired by Indy, from the cinematography to the action itself. However it is played very well, every scene has a purpose in terms of characterization or plot, and the film is packed with scenes. At times it does feel the plot is simply to bring the characters from one set-piece to another, but it works well, so who's to complain.
So the plot is not that great, and too be fair neither are the characters. Tintin is just not that exciting, he's a journalist and has a desire for adventure, and that's pretty much it. Captain Haddock is a drunk captain with the same desire, they team up to fight crime, but neither of them is Harrison Ford, so it just isn't quite as good. Oh another thing this film is missing that was in Raiders, the film most similar to it, is a decent lead female. There are little to no females in the film, like an opera singer is the only named female, and she has one scene. I understand that is always the way Tintin has been, and likely with Hollywoodization he'll have a love interest before the end of the trilogy but still, a little diversity might have been nice.
So what made the movie worthwhile? The production values mostly. The visuals were amazing as mentioned above, even with the slightly odd style it still stands out as one of the premier 3-D movies in terms of looks, bested only by Pixar at its best. Though the 3-D itself is not really noticeable, and like all flicks distracts just that little bit. The other notable element of the production is the sound, which is really top notch. I rarely notice them, but the sound effects in the film were some of the best, they were what made the film work so well, and added enormously to both the aesthetic and the tone of the film. The music as well was quite good, so just general sound design was amazing.
On a whole a fairly decent adventure flick, with some incredibly bloodless violence in a film that is jam-packed with adventure, perhaps a little too much for some, but definitely worth a watch if you can.