Tintin Finds Its Own Path

The Adventures of Tintin (Columbia/Paramount)

As the art of cinema develops alongside technology, so does the business of it. Methods of distribution and viewership are now more varied than ever, however, what some may not fully consider is that aside from method of viewing (streaming, MOD, DVD, etc.) theatrical releases also have found new paths. Now more than ever theatrical releases have tinkered with the formula. It used to be an unwritten rule that the rest of the world would have to wait for Hollywood films until America had seen it first. Now, for many reasons whether it be location or just the international viability of a given project, films are not only premiering overseas with increasing frequency but opening there well ahead of the US also.

Perhaps the best example of this is Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. I for one had always had a vague awareness of Hergé’s well-known creation but didn’t know much about him or the stories in which he lived. However, similar to my affinity to The Little Prince, which crosses not only various media but also three languages, I knew that it was a property more renowned abroad than in the US. Therefore, it’s perfectly logical that not only did Tintin debut overseas first but also opened there well in advance.

Tintin is, in fact, a cinematic rarity in as much as of this writing it already ranks #360 all-time in worldwide box-office with $239.1 Million and opens in the US tomorrow. Considering the fact that it opened in late October overseas and the ubiquity of social media below you will find some of the reactions I’ve gotten from overseas as I anxiously await the US release. The conversation started rather spontaneously when discussing some of my favorites of 2011 after that Twitter discussion I asked around and got more feedback:

Alex Terentjev, Russia

“What bout Tintin? I think this is the best film to share the evening with family…btw (By the way) I didn’t know anything bout Tintin before I’ve watched a movie, but u know this film is amazing…comedy elements mixed with criminal and interesting adventures and motion capture, as well, makes this movie really awesome…I even started to read Tintin comic books cuz of this movie.”

Patrick Gibson, England

Tintin, one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a long time! Such well thought out characters and beautiful animation!

@lucylucesim, Ireland

Tintin was brilliant![…]The 3D was great but could’ve been better utilized.

@everyfilmin2011, England

So, after months of looking forward to a new Spielberg movie, one of my Twitter followers threw cold water on my mood by telling me it was boring. I must admit, I’m glad they did – because watching a movie with low expectation is always best. First off, I can happily report that there was far too much going on for it ever to be condemned as boring but it’s certainly not the standard of an animated Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I’d originally hoped…

The action, of course, comes thick and fast and computer animation really lets Spielberg’s imagination out of any normal constraints. Jamie Bell is the perfect voice for Tintin but the real revelation is Daniel Craig as the baddie. He hams it up like never before – talk about shaken and stirred! Of course, it goes without saying that Britain’s greatest chameleon actor, Andy Serkis, is unrecognisable and in top form as the captain…

My biggest bugbear is the 3D. It really doesn’t bring anything to the party and, once again, is just a giant rip-off. The sooner this gimmick dies off, the better. So, a Spielberg classic it isn’t but is Tintin worth a family outing. Yes, I should say so. Rating? 7/10

Here’s an excerpt from Screenings a great resource for those of you in the US who want a chance to see movies early and free:

It mainly mixed three of the original comic books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944), and of course, The Secret of the Unicorn (1943). While the precise motion-capture couldn’t compare to Hergé’s original execution of his characters, it delivered a new fascination for the current generation to enjoy. So don’t expect as much nostalgia but do expect a great viewing experience…

The script does a wonderful job introducing the audience to Tintin and the whole premise quickly. Even if you have no idea what the source material is about, you will get it within the first 10 minutes where you see the new animated Tintin get a caricature of himself which shows the original inked boy journalist […] By mixing many different plots in one, the filmmakers were able to explore more of the Tintin universe and splice together various story lines to keep the momentum and the pace quick. However, you never forgot the main story at hand…

The cast was as impressive as the men behind the scenes. The motion capture and voices were provided by the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and motion capture legend/guru Andy Serkis. With every mocap film, Weta Digital somehow tops itself and delivers a more seamless experience letting you forget your even watching an animated feature. It was a weird mix…even though it looked extremely lifelike, The Adventures of Tintin still had it’s [sic] cartoony feel…

The 3D was used well but again, not drastically enough. The best implementations were the particle effects that were unlike any other movie. They added a strong feeling of depth in their scenes that can’t be duplicated using 2D cameras. Even with the fast moving action scenes, the 3D didn’t get too crazy or give headaches so in the end it just made the visuals pop that much more. I would actually recommend watching this one in 3D because animated films do gain the most from the 3D technology…

The biggest win for this production, however, was a chaotic sequence which never seemed to end. It was very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones days where everything fell into place and the characters had to pull off stunts just at the nick of time. Of course, this is a lot easier to accomplish when every movement is animated by a computer rather than a stunt double. In the end though, the action scene came out so well that it makes you want to watch the entire film again just to watch that portion. If it was on DVD or DVR, you would instantly rewind it back to see again. The whole movie is ok up until that point but then Tintin blasts into full force and dazzles you with the unbelievable. It was really fun and that alone made the movie enjoyable for me. If you’re ready for a big dose of action adventure, The Adventures of Tintin is an amusement ride in the form of a movie and you should probably watch it because the sequel is already in the works.

Two other pre-certifications are first that it currently scores a 7.8 on 21,946 votes on the IMDb, it is “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes with 82% based on 67 Reviews and is at 67% on 11 reviews at Metacritic.

However, my open inquiries for a reaction from abroad to Tintin also garnered this surprise response from Simon Doyle who runs titinologist.org:

In 1983, when I was much younger, I watched an “interview”, broadcast on Janet Street-Porter’s “yoof TV” show Network7. Boy-reporter Tintin (we, the viewing public, were assured) was orbiting the Earth in Professor Calculus’s rocket, to bring amazing news to the world. Duly excited, I watched a 2D, somehow-electronically-but-rather-simply-animated Tintin inform the interviewer (and us) that none other than Steven Spielberg was in the process of bringing his globetrotting adventures to the screen!

Wow! If he could do for Tintin what he’d done with Indiana Jones–! I sat back, and waited…

…and waited…

…will it ever happen?…

…and waited…

…Great snakes! – A chap could start to lose hope…!

…and then…!

It’s 28-years later, and I am sitting in the viewing-theatre at BAFTA (BAFTA! The glittering heart of British cinema!), courtesy of the good folks at MediCinema, watching Thompson and Thomson introduce Steven Spielberg’s glorious new movie –

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn!

– and it proved well worth the wait!

If you want the devil’s advocate take there is a discussion link at the bottom of the review, however, if someone who has been as devoted fan for ages and has waited that long for a film version can come away that impressed it is most definitely worth my time. Moreover, the distribution path decision while might’ve seemed obvious to some has reaped rewards for the film as it opens with a bit more buzz stateside than it might otherwise.