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Spielberg Returns to the Helm with 'Tintin'

Written By: Harald Schossman

11/01/2011

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He’s been quiet for some time, but now with 'Tintin' playing across European movie theaters, 'War Horse' due out this Christmas, and his new Abraham Lincoln biopic already filming, Steven Spielberg is once again back in the director’s chair. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn marks Spielberg’s first motion capture film, which he jointly produced with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.

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Based on the hugely popular Belgian comic Tintin is an investigative journalist who purchases a model replica of a ship called the Unicorn. Almost instantly a sorted cast of shady characters pursues him in an attempt to take possession of the ship by any means necessary. Naturally Tintin’s interest is piqued and together with his faithful terrier Snowy he embarks on a quest to uncover the mystery surrounding the ship. He befriends the perpetually drunken Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) and finds himself pitched in a race across several continents against the sinister Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) to discover the clues to the possible whereabouts of an enormous treasure.

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Tintin is a complete CGI film that employed the same motion capture technology utilized for Gollum and perfected for Avatar. While the performances are no doubt superior to its predecessors in the genre (Polar Express, A Christmas Carol) it falls short of the quality established by the live action films such as Avatar. While some reactions are on the spot, others moments are slightly labored, reminding the audience that it’s neither live action, nor animation they’re watching which is exactly my problem with this particular artform.

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Once you warm to the visual style, however, Tintin is a solid, not perfect, but quite entertaining film. In fact it’s very reminiscent of Spielberg’s earlier works: hidden secrets, quest for the unknown and a sense of adventure that so often defined his work is palpable. Though I really like Andy Serkis who is undoubtedly the uncrowned king of motion capture performance, his character of Captain Haddock is slightly overdone at times, lacking too much wit even for a drunk. Tintin’s loyal dog Snowy is a character in its own right and possibly the smartest often finding clues before his owner does or rescuing him from a sticky situation.

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New technologies mean new challenges and that’s usually when creativity sets in. It’s obvious that Steven Spielberg had a great deal of fun playing with the virtual CGI camera. He keeps swerving and panning, developing very creative shots; especially during the action scenes in the second half of the film. He truly outdoes himself with minute long shots following the action at breakneck speed moving in ways no live action camera would ever allow, thus truly delivering the thrills! Another advantage of the CGI technology is the fact that actors don’t age. So if Tintin does well and a possible sequel (the script has already been completed) is approved by the studio, director Peter Jackson can make good on his promise and commence work on it once the two Hobbit movies are in theaters…

About The Author: Harold Schossman is our International News Corespondent and our resident Expert Videographer. He has worked in the entertainment industry for almost two decades. Be sure to check out his outstanding video work on his YouTube account.

http://www.youtube.com/user/hdeditor