Monday, September 16, 2013

Adventures of Tintin (Rental Ready) (2011)

Adventures of TintinA film by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, story by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish and starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Pegg & Frost. Sounds good, doesn't it? But 'ware! The subject is one of the most cherished icons of 20th century child's story-telling, held dear by pretty much anyone of a "certain age" and transferred from a distinctive style to modern CGI animation. The potential to fail is strong in this one...

Briefly, the story is a mash-up of three well known episodes in the Tintin canon, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. Tintin (Bell) meets Captain Haddock (Serkis) and embark on an action packed search for the Captain's ancestor's treasure trove. They are joined by two of the more fondly remembered of Tintin's associates, Thompson and Thomson played by Pegg and Frost, (or is it Frost and Pegg?) and stalked by arch criminal Ivan Sakharine (Craig).

The film is produced using performance capture animation and it bridges the gap between a live action film and the straight "cartoon" of the Bernasconi animated series. Obviously Tintin purists will have their objections as the film does take *some* liberties with the "look", but to the ordinary audience member, the end product is both impressive and reverential to Herge. If there are any objections to the CGI animation (and there are a few minor ones) I think it's important to remember that the art and technology of CGI is still developing and it would be churlish to criticise too strongly. One criticism I have heard is that the emotional expression of the characters suffers in the CGI process. I'll have none of that! The characters' faces are expressive and readable and it is quite easy eventually to forget that they *are* CGI and my wife came out of the cinema remarking that the make-up was very good and she didn't recognise Andy Serkis at all!

Most importantly, the animation really does keep the faith with Herge's vision (Herge even appears in a small cameo in the opening sequence) in almost every way. The characters are depicted as 3D versions of his original ligne claire artwork (without the lignes) and it's a big relief that the story is set in the 1940's Tintin universe, "somewhere in Europe", plus-fours, bowler hats, rusty tramp-steamers, schmeisser machine guns and sea-planes galore. The film really retains the film noir "feel" of the original and that will be important to Tintin's fans. The "scenery" is, like Herge's comics, sumptuously populated and I was crying out for a remote control to pause and rewind the film so that I could revisit some of the little details that I half-missed the covers of magazines carelessly tossed onto desktops, the contents of the desk's partly opened drawers, little cameo sequences that take place at the edge of the screen while the main action is front and centre, the array of faces in The Milanese Nightingale's audience and so-on. The film has *huge* rewatch potential and I will be pre-ordering the DVD as soon as it becomes available for this reason alone!

The acting is brilliant and all the performers really bring their characters to life. Bell does a fine job and Serkis and Pegg and Frost convey their slapstick antics extremely well. It's good that the actors' performances don't overwhelm the characters' already well-developed personalities. While I've heard some criticism that Serkis overcooks his Haddock, I disagree the Captain is a larger-than-life personality and Serkis does a fine job with this wonderful character. I am aching, however, to meet Professor Calculus in a sequel (please let it be Destination Moon)!

Ol' Steve has been around a while, now and knows a thing or too about the action/adventure genre and he really lets rip with this one. Indiana Jones for kids? I'll say. The action is breath-taking and at nearly two hours in length it's a rollercoaster ride. The motorcycle chase scene, filmed in a single continuous take is the centrepiece of the film. Spielberg bundles you into the sidecar and takes you on a break-neck race, bouncing you off the walls, leaping chasms and leaving you, several minutes later, sitting in a small cloud of dust with steam coming off the seat of your pants and little cork-screws of sweat radiating off your head. The "Long Take" scene is becoming a bit of a cliche in modern cinematography and, I think, looks a little ostentatious in live action film, but in animation it works rather well and left me exhausted and deeply satisfied. And it doesn't let up in true Spielberg/Indy style, the film barely slows down for a minute. There's plenty of good, Herge slapstick, not too overdone and obeying the hallowed traditions of visual comedy, and genuine laugh out loud moments aplenty.

In the final analysis, The Adventures of Tintin is a top notch family film. It will, like any film of this sort, have its detractors; but what Jackson and Spielberg have achieved is a joyful, exuberant whoop of a film that will appeal to kids of all ages (i.e. anywhere between about 5 and 85) and will offend none but the hardest of Tintin die-hards.

Did we enjoy it? Ten thousand thudering typhoons! Of course we did!

Six stars

The Tintin graphic novels follow an unlikely protagonist: a mile mannered, sharp-witted young reporter. There are about two dozen of them, artfully drawn, with a recurring cast of colorful characters woven through various tales. The books have been translated in 50 languages. 200 million copies have been sold around the world, but, oddly, not many of these are in America. That makes Tintin something of a rare gem here, and he's part of my family culture. I worried that Speilberg would spoil the magic, ruin the brand. Somehow, he didn't. At all. The film is brilliant.

Not only did it capture the tone, pace, and geographic sweep of the novels, it also caught so many details -facial features of minor characters, body posture, personalities, villains, props, gags, cameo appearances, gestures, curses. It is all there. The motion capture style made it almost lifelike, but clearly not. Just like the novels.

It's as if the books had come alive. Another clever adventure with colorful characters in foreign lands half a century ago. Nice to see so many old friends, looking good after all these years.

Buy Adventures of Tintin (Rental Ready) (2011) Now

The Adventures of Tintin is an enjoyable well done adaptation of the books by Herge. For somebody that knows nothing about Tintin, this is an Indiana Jones-esque story that is fun and action packed. For the Tintin aficionado, this is an amalgamation of three books with some parts that are needlessly extended.

March 13, 2012 Update: Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy arrived today. The Digital copy is two different things, a real live downloadable copy through iTunes and the horrible streaming Ultraviolet copy. The "deluxe" Blu-Ray version includes an access code for both types of on computer viewing. The Blu-Ray disc is very nice. I saw the original movie in 3D at the theater. I don't miss the 3D effect, and frankly the sound was better at home on my home theater system. This is a disc well worth buying.

The opening credits are almost worth the price of admission. The roughly 3 minutes of credits go through almost all the stories. The graphics are very similar to the books.

Tintin, a journalist, buys a model ship at a flea market. It turns out a lot of other people want that ship. There is a bit of mystery, a bit of action, and treasure hunt in the story. The movie is based mostly on the Unicorn series (The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure) and The Crab with the Golden Claws. I love the homage to Herge at the beginning of the film, he is the artist doing Tintin's portrait at the flea market.

My criticism of the film is the embellishment of a number of scenes. I think the original story left the right kind of gaps in the story to keep me thinking. The film tended to fill in those gaps and lead me too much down the primrose path; I didn't have to think very much with this film. The real pleasure of Tintin is that a person has to think about these stories. The other piece I didn't care for was bringing in Castefiore the opera singer. She really doesn't belong in this story, but Spielberg and Jackson seem to have felt she was a plausible addition.

This was filmed in motion capture animation. The film looked really good. That technique has a tendency to look almost too realistic and creepy, not in this film. There was just enough cartoon character to the film, that I never thought this was trying to imitate real life. I saw this in 3D, and can't say it was necessary I think the film will work just fine in 2D.

I really liked the cast. The voices were excellent choices; Jamie Bell is simply fantastic as Tintin. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz (Widescreen Edition)) are so perfect as Thompson and Thompson.

I am a Tintin fan. We have the full DVD set of all the cartoons (these were only available in Canada for a long time and ran on Nickelodeon back in 1991). We also own many of the books. I even have some original antique paper comic books from the early days. I am not a true aficionado of the series, but have loved the original series in French and English.

The film is rated PG. Compared to television cartoons, just about any age child could watch this. There's animated violence. The story is a little bit complex, but most children will catch on easily.

Almost two years ago I heard that The Adventures of Tintin was in development. I hoped that it would eventually see the light of day in a theater. I am so happy this film was made. It is a wonderful film of my favorite comic book series. This is by far the best filming that has ever been done. The DVD cartoons are very literal translations of the books, with exactly the same graphics and almost the same dialog. The two French live action movies are both pretty campy and not exactly the best films in the world. They stick to the book story lines pretty literally. They are only available in French with no subtitles at all (Tintin: Le Mystere de la Toison D'or / Les Oranges Bleues (French Version)).

The Adventures of Tintin is a wonderful film. I enjoyed this film very much.

By the way, Marlinspike is a real chateau in France, it is Ch√Ęteau de Cheverny. The chateau is larger than in the cartoon or books but it is the model Herge used to draw Marlinspike Hall. The grounds look exactly like the cartoon (it's pretty darn amazing to walk up to this Chateau and see exactly what Herge used as his model).

The original cartoons are available on DVD:

The DVD Box set:

The Adventures of Tintin, Vols. 1-5

The Adventures of Tintin, Vols. 6-10

The 2011 film:

The Adventures of Tintin

The new DVD releases:

The Adventures Of Tintin: Season One

The Adventures Of Tintin: Season Two

The Unicorn 2 part cartoon is also available on Amazon Instant Video:

The Secret Of The Unicorn, Part 1

The Secret Of The Unicorn, Part 2

Red Rackham's Treasure and The Crab With The Golden Claws are available on Amazon Instant Video. I've included links to those two books in the comments section below.

Read Best Reviews of Adventures of Tintin (Rental Ready) (2011) Here

I've read the Tintin comic books (have all the hardcover sets they sell here on Amazon), and have seen the Nelvana cartoon series (which is pretty much completely lifted from the comic books). Love them all! So many times I have been disappointed when Hollywood takes something I love, adapts it to the big screen, and completely ruins it so that any resemblance between the movie and the original is pure coincidence. With Spielberg and Jackson at the helm, I expected a high quality production, but what about the actual story?

This movie takes elements from three Tintin books "The Crab with the Golden Claws", "The Secret of the Unicorn", and "Red Rackham's Treasure". Most of "The Crab..." that's in the movie is about how Tintin and Captain Haddock met. In "Unicorn", the flea market scenes actually took place AFTER Tintin and Haddock met, as Tintin had bought the model ship as a gift for his friend. But in the movie, he bought the ship before he met Haddock.

But unless you are that much of a stickler for details, this shouldn't matter. With the exception of these few details, the story was very true to the books and the Nelvana animated series. What was even better was how the characters were written; I am sure Herge would have approved, as they were just as he intended them to be. All the personality quirks of Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock, Thomson & Thompson, etc all there as we remember them. I thought they did a great job with the casting, as well.

I was afraid they'd ruin this movie by doing something dumb like bringing on a love interest for Tintin (something that never happened in the books, but Hollywood often can't leave stuff alone). This is an adventure story, not a romance, and it was wise of Spielberg/Jackson to treat it as such.

The ending of the movie left me begging for a sequel. I hope they do make one, and it's to the same standards as this one. This Tintin fan loved it!

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I was amazed by the animation. However, early on, I found some of the characters and/or their actions annoying. Astoundingly, the action sequences are boring -not exciting -with too much happening for no particular point. I never felt involved in the story or really cared. Tintin has promise as a character as well as Snowy, the dog. I ran the second half of the movie at 1.5x speed and felt even at that that the movie was too long for what it contained. A thin -though visually stunning -gruel, indeed. There's a kernel of a movie in there somewhere. Too bad two of the most famous directors in the world couldn't find it.

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