Retro Review: The Blue Lotus
The third film in the 1991 Tintin animation series, The Blue Lotus, follows as a more-or-less direct sequel of the very entertaining Cigars of the Pharaoh. Tintin has decided to take a holiday with our Indian friend from Cigars…, but hasn’t stayed there for long before madness darts start flying again and hints of a global crime plot reveal themselves.
Tintin, in a fit of naive selflessness, is led to Shanghai by a mysterious clue, where he encounters a Japanese businessman called Matsuhirato, and quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot involving a drug cartel, a resistance movement and a possible Japanese invasion into Shanghai. Add to that the fact that Thomson and Thompson have been convinced to arrest Tintin, and you have all the makings of a fantastic romp.
But it quickly sputters in a way Cigars… doesn’t, where it seems that Hergé’s well-documented ideals sprinkled into the story (which is loosely based on real events) become a hindrance to the narrative. For a 45 minute cartoon, the plot becomes incredibly convoluted, involving no less than 5 narrative strands at one point, with no clear direction of where to take it. While Tintin’s comic haplessness does land him in truly suspenseful situations, and Snowy’s unwavering trust in his master, even when he knows he’s wrong, adds an emotional weight to a scene or two, it suffers perhaps the most from being a follow-up to Cigars of the Pharaoh. Tintin needs a certain sense of abandon, which is absent from much of The Blue Lotus.
Final Verdict: Tintin’s third adventure in a series of 21, The Blue Lotus lands somewhere between his first (Tintin in America) and second (Cigars of the Pharaoh). While intermittently brilliant, the story bogs itself down, relying too much on contrivances and political righteousness to become as entertaining as it could. However, already at this early point in the series, Snowy has made himself a home in the viewer’s heart.
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