Monday 6 August 2012

World Animation Review (USA) -The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - 2011
Director - Steven Spielberg

1) The Adventures of Tintin - Poster

Plot summary / review:
Based on the popular comic strips by Belgian writer and illustrator Georges Prosper Remi (aka Hergé), Tintin gets a modern day digital makeover by Steven Spielberg. Joined by his faithful companion Snowy, the intrepid reporter is thrown into a world wide adventure that would make Indiana Jones gulp. Tintin buys a model ship from a market stall, a replica of the Unicorn which was famously ransacked by pirates three hundred years earlier. When the sinister Sakharine tries to buy the model from Tintin, he discovers it holds the secrets to a hidden treasure. By chance, Tintin and Snowy are joined by drunken ships master Captain Haddock, whose ancestral links to the Unicorn run deeper than originally thought.

Fans were unsettled when it was announced that Spielberg's Tintin would be made using motion capture technology. Previous features made using this technique, such as Robert Zemeckis' Polar Express (2004), divided critics opinions. Many claimed the characters promote an uncanny feeling and appear zombie like. It can be argued that Tintin, voiced by Jamie Bell, has suffered from the same problem. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian writes "It's a photoreal approximation of live action that is technically outstanding, but it has, for me, none of the charm, clarity and style of Hergé's drawings and none of the immediacy and panache of actual, flesh-and-blood human beings." (Bradshaw. 2011)

2. Uncanny Tintin

The uncanny feeling evoked by the dead-eye looking Tintin maybe explained by robotocist 
Masahiro Mori. He observed that when robots reach a level of realistic human appearance, people were put off by them. By stylizing them, or making them more "cartoony", they were generally accepted. Spielberg's Tintin does have a hint of Hergé's original design, but he is predominantly human looking and not entirely successful. However, the overall look and design of the film is realised expertly. "Spielberg and a team of artists and animators have copied not the literal look of the Tintin strips, but the feel." (Ebert. 2011). Certain characters benefit from more artistic licence and caricatured features, for example the Thomson / Thompson detectives voiced hilariously by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

3. Thompson and Thomson or Thomson and Thompson

The Tintin universe is vast with Hergé completing 23 comics in the series between 1929 and 1983. This foray feels like the first instalment with producer Peter Jackson rumoured to direct the next. Spielberg's Tintin has his stamp all over it and can be compared to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981).  Like Indiana Jones, "there is hardly a moment of downtime, a chance to catch your breath or contemplate the tension between the animated Expressionism and the photo-realist flourishes. Relax, you think, as Tintin and the story rush off again, as if Mr. Spielberg were afraid of losing us with European-style longueurs." (Dargis. 2011). With the characters established and with a few tweaks and refinements, Tintin's adventures could be in our cinemas for a long time. What do you say Snowy?

4. Snowy


Bradshaw, Peter. The Guardian review 27th October 2011

Dargis, Manohla. New York Times review 20th December 2011

Ebert Roger. Chicago Sun-Times review 20th December 2011


1.The Adventures of Tintin - Poster

2.Uncanny Tintin

3. Thompson and Thomson or Thomson and Thompson

4. Snowy

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