Monday, December 26

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

My wife and I went to see the evening showing on Christmas Day. We both really enjoyed it. It's a great adventure story most reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have been aware of Tintin for a very long time as a classic European comic book, but until very recently had not read any of it, and even now have read only one of the couple dozen books available in English, specifically The Cigars of the Pharaoh. Even though I have such limited exposure to the original, I feel compelled to risk offending the cognoscenti by endorsing reviewer Stephen Schleicher's assessment at Major Spoilers that here we have a rare example of an adaptation that surpasses the source material. It's that good – not to say the original comic stories are not excellent and deservedly considered classics.

But this post is about the movie. Besides a solid, non-stop story, the motion-capture animation is excellent. (Note: We saw it in 2D.) In places, were it not for exaggerated facial features it would be easy to forget this is not live-action. It's much better in that respect than Beowulf from a few years ago, even though if I recall correctly most of the facial features were more normalistic there than here. I particularly remember the eyes in Beowulf not looking quite right, as well as some of the movement, especially walking. Neither of those are issues in this movie. And even though the figures are overall quite realistic, enough distinctive features are maintained to duplicate Hergé's artistic style quite well. Overall, it's a perfect blend of the cartoonish and realistic. The contrast is put front and center early in the story when a market artist sketches a picture of Tintin that looks just like one of Hergé's drawings. I can't find a specific image of that online, but the image at right illustrates the effect.

I really hope this movie succeeds in the American box-office and inspires other such adaptations of non-American products for American audiences. Lord knows there's plenty out there, such as Perry Rhodan (a subject we discussed at length a few weeks ago when I guested on TheBook Cave podcast).

Cheers! … and thanks for reading!

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