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I don’t know if a critic can be said to be trolling if he’s published by a major newspaper, but Jim Schembri is surely coming close with this piece on why Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is a better piece of animation than Tintin.
My problem is not with the central thesis. I love championing of so-called “low” movies, and I love it when critics find things in a movie they think others have overlooked. I haven’t subjected myself to Alvin 3, and am not about to simply to see if Schembri is right. But just taking the Tintin side of the equation here, the article is full of comments that don’t add up.
The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
I don’t need to re-cap the level of anticipation to which I ascended in the lead-up to Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic strip series The Adventures of Tintin; my salivating is all preserved on-line. Getting worked up ahead of the fact is part of the fun with modern blockbusters, but it means that actually seeing the film can often be a let-down. Amongst the recent mega-franchises we probably have to go back to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to find one that truly lived up the hype; at the other end of the spectrum, and far more common of late, are wretched let downs like Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Tintin arrives heralded to the screen by both Jackson (as producer) and Spielberg (as director), so the form line for this was mixed. The good news is that their adaptation does justice to the source material and lives up to the expectations. I loved The Adventures of Tintin.
One of the key things that fuelled expectations was the talented triumvirate of geek favourites that Spielberg and Jackson had snared for screenwriting duties: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. The trio have done well in forging a largely seamless hybrid of Hergé’s The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Secret of the Unicorn, with a few small details from other books thrown in for good measure. The start of the film recalls the tone of Hergé’s earlier Tintin stories, with Tintin entering into an adventure accompanied only by his brave and faithful dog Snowy; in the latter portions, Tintin meets and then teams up with the irascible drunkard Captain Haddock. Their quest is to locate a series of parchments which, together, will provide a clue to the location of a hidden treasure; racing them to the target is the murderous Sakharine. The adventure takes Tintin from Europe to north Africa and back again.
I was lucky enough to see Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin tonight, at its first Melbourne screening. However, they did ask for reviews to be held until 1 December. I’m so ridiculously, insanely grateful to have gotten into that screening that I will of course honour that request. I’ll be overseas then, but will endeavour to have my review ready and log in to press “post” on, or close to, the fateful day. So for anyone interested in my thoughts, check back around then. (Edit, 17/11: I have now twigged that WordPress lets me schedule the post. So it should appear first thing in the morning on 1 December.)
I can understand their reasoning on this to a point: they don’t want the buzz peaking too early (but why, then, hold our release so far back after everyone else’s?) It will be interesting to see how well the dam holds, though, especially since the movie is already out in Europe, and they were actively encouraging tweeting about the film (and tweets from tonight’s screening are already flying about).
Call it a hunch though: I don’t think Paramount will be blacklisting me for saying it’s fabulous.
Until then, here’s the trailer.
Having posted every other bit of Tintin promotion, it seems remiss not to post the full trailer released the other day. I don’t really have anything to add to what I’ve said before: parts of the animation (particularly the comic “falls”) look a little off; computer animation is a strange choice; but the retro look of the world has a really nice, indefinable Tintin-ness to it.
And now, further to my post earlier today, here’s the Tintin teaser trailer, giving us (a little) more sense of what the animation will look like. There are some nice shots here, but it’s still hard to tell. The overall look is beautiful from what we can see, but they’re holding back on character animation, which will be the big test.
I’ve written about my misgivings about a CG Tintin before, but my fandom keeps overtaking my rational reservations. The thought of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson collaborating on this material, working from a script by Steven Moffat (writer of some seriously good TV) and Edgar Wright, is pretty exciting. And now we have this pair of handsome posters. If only the last movie that had me this excited at poster stage wasn’t Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
If you’ve been anywhere near the film geek webpages during the week you’ll have seen this news: Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are making movies of Herge’s comic book series The Adventures of Tintin. Spielberg in particular has been mentioned in relation to this property before, but it really seems to be moving forward now. Courtesy of Variety:
Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are teaming to direct and produce three back-to-back features based on Georges Remi’s beloved Belgian comic-strip hero Tintin for DreamWorks. Pics will be produced in full digital 3-D using performance capture technology.
The two filmmakers will each direct at least one of the movies; studio wouldn’t say which director would helm the third… The Spielberg-Jackson project isn’t likely to languish in development for long. Spielberg could become available this fall after wrapping “Indiana Jones 4.” Jackson will wrap “Bones” by the end of the year.
I have mixed feelings about this whole thing, but I’m certainly very interested. Tintin was a staple of my childhood; as I got a bit older, I cast them aside, deciding that the other big comic book series, Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix was a bit hipper. Yet I came full circle when I revisited the Tintin books as an adult. They might superficially be pitched a little younger than the jokey Asterix books, but Herge was clearly the superior artist. His beautifully simple graphical style and grasp of the comic book form really sets the Tintin books apart. He also showed remarkable facility at different genres: the Tintin books range from the full-blown adventure of sending Tintin to the moon (in Explorers on the Moon) to the minimalist house-bound mystery of The Castafiore Emerald, a comic drama where the ultimate joke is that Herge generates a whole book around nothing of consequence.