Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

When I think of the action sequences in Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark or Minority Report, I'm reminded of how well thought out, clever, and ultimately artful they are. The truck chase in Raiders is a perfect example. It's thrilling, suspenseful, and keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. That is something that I love about Spielberg though, how you can just group the genres of his movies and still recognize his influence throughout. Whether it be his sci-fi films like Close Encounters or E.T. or historical dramas like Schindler's List or Munich, you know you are watching Spielberg, but you are almost within a sub-set of the man's many different talented approaches to tackling a variety of material. His first animated film, The Adventures of Tintin, falls right in and fits nicely next to Raiders, and I'm the umpteenth person to connect Indiana Jones and Tintin the reporter since 1981.

I'm a comic book nut so I've read Tintin by Herge, but in a much different manner than most. I read it like I read most older comics. I was looking to see how they influenced the Marvel/DC/indy writers and artists of recent years. I still greatly appreciated it as a work of comicbookdom that sort of made a connection between what has been the strips of the funny pages to the type of stories Stan Lee would tell. So with Spielberg's adaptation being animated, the first thing I was most inclined to take note of was the look. I found the animation to be beautiful especially in how the locales popped with their various color schemes. Perhaps purists might be a little put off, but I felt like Spielberg and co. captured what was more important to me- the "feel" as opposed to the "look" and it just happened that they chose to use motion capture to do so. I found myself comparing it to how even if Raimi's Spider-Man is for all intents and purposes his interpretation of Spider-Man, he at least captured the feeling that the drawings of Steve Ditko, Todd MacFarlane, John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, and others had hoped to invoke. An obvious example would be Robert Rodriguez literally lifting the image off the page for his version of Frank Miller's Sin City.

Enough of my nerd-enhanced rantings. I enjoyed the affect the mo-cap had. All of this "uncanny valley" talk doesn't bother me in the same way that I don't stand up and question why a character in a Pixar movie is not anatomically correct. Similar films from Zemeckis like The Polar Express or A Christmas Carol have a certain disquieting (for lack of a better word) characteristic to them because of the animation style and Tintin does as well (and of course there is debate over whether motion capture is in fact worthy of being mentioned in an Oscar for animated films category, but I'll just use the word "animation" until the endless debates come up with a verdict).

All-in-all, Tintin was a lot of fun, a pleasant surprise, and full of all the great things I love about these types of movies whether they feature actors in a green bodysuit or not- a noble hero, exotic lands, crazy villains, and non-stop action scenes with guns, knives, and fists all taking place on, in, or around different forms of transportation vehicles. The dogs from Beginners and The Artist also now have some competition for 2011's most charming portrayal of a canine.

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