Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin (my belated review)

It’s been 4 days since I saw The Adventures of Tintin (a.k.a. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn as it's known overseas), and I’m still thinking about it. What’s more, I have an urge to see it again. Movies nowadays don’t do that to me anymore. So, what’s Tintin have that other movies don’t have? Well, for starters, this is the best animation you will ever see to date. It strikes me that this is what audiences and filmmakers expected out of computer animation all along: creating photorealistic landscapes and people, anyway you want them to look. The challenge of creating “people” versions of the comic-strip characters of Tintin means that some characters look kind of strange in photorealistic light. But Tintin himself is uncanny. I often wondered what Tintin would look like as a real person when I used to read the comics, and this is it! This is Tintin! And all of the locations are beautifully realized and breathtaking to look at. The deserts, the cities, even the ocean – you just want to stare at the locales for a little longer than the movie lets you, and that’s a good thing.

Beyond the fantastic visuals, the characters are what I remember from the comics, but done in a way so that they’re a little less goofy. Tintin is always running into nut-cases, but they’re realized a little less cartoonishly than they are in the comics. They’re all there, though: Cpt. Haddock, Thomson and Thomson, Aristides Silk, Omar Ben Salaad, Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine – no Dr. Calculus unfortunately, that I noticed anyway. Tintin himself is a cool character that you want to follow on these adventures, always earnest and caring, yet brave. Capt. Haddock’s drinking problem is in full-swing here, and I applaud Spielberg for diving head-first into it even though it isn’t very politically correct nowadays.

The adventures and action scenes are amazing, with Tintin dodging bullets, fist fighting guards, manning vehicles, etc. This was to be Spielberg’s return to the serial-inspired action movie (for which he gained fame with Raiders) and it’s a heck of a lot better than Crystal Skull.

I’m still stunned that Hollywood finally got off their butt and made a big-budget Tintin movie. And with Hollywood’s current elite, no less – directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Spielberg and Peter Jackson, music score by John Williams, and with cutting edge animation that really has to be seen to be believed. Rumors of a Spielberg Tintin movie stretch back to 1984, when Spielberg bought the rights, and the wait was well worth it. I read Tintin as a kid, as all the comic albums were in my public school library. I loved the fact that each issue was one self-contained epic adventure. Tintin would be in London in one scene, then in Cairo the next, then kidnapped by henchmen, then infiltrate an underwater base – it was like I was reading an adventure movie that could go toe-to-toe with the James Bond and Indiana Jones franchises. I thought, “wow, if a movie version was only half this good, it would still be great”. Over the years, I caught glimpses of other screen versions of the character. There was the live-action Tintin and the Blue Oranges, which was cool for the fact the all of the characters actually looked like their comic counterparts – like they leapt off the page and came to life. There was the 60’s cartoon, as well, followed by two animated movies: Tintin and the Temple of the Sun (1969) and Tintin and The Lake of Sharks (1972). All of these were in other languages when I was a kid and I could never find English ones (there are now english versions online, which seem to have either cropped up or become more available with the release of this new movie). Then came the Nelvana version in the 90's which was pretty cool because they adapted the books directly. But the pacing was slow, and they never punched up the action. This new movie captures Tintin's spirit of action and adventure the best.

I hope there are sequels. This movie ends off the way the original Secret of the Unicorn comic did, but that lead to Red Rackam’s Treasure. There are still a whole slew of comic stories and crazy characters to adapt and I would love to see more. To date, The Adventures of Tintin has only made 72 million dollars domestically where most viewers don’t even know the character, but overseas where he’s well known the movie has made 286 million. Hopefully that’ll be enough to convince everyone to go ahead with part 2. As for part 1, you are not doing yourself a favour by not watching this film on the big screen. It’s a fun movie-night, a great evening out and spectacle all wrapped up in the best possible package that you will remember for a long time.


Oh, the 3D is kinda useless. You can watch it 2D or 3D.
And as for Spielberg, this almost makes up for his produced Transformers movies – almost.


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