3D, Herge, Snowy, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star, Tintin

First Images – 24 Hours On

The world has had a chance to digest the first Tintin images for a whole day now. So what is the world thinking?

Based on the comments on this web site, most Tintin fans are excited about it. With only one or two dissenting voices raising concerns about the nature of the animation. In the wider world, reaction is more mixed and seems pretty polorized with very negative and very positive comments in equal measure.

Wading Through the Bullshit

One of the problems with the internet is that people love to hate. The Trolls who live on forum and write blogs vent bile because it gives them a sense of purpose, not because they have anything interesting to say. Filtering out the nay-sayers from those with a genuine ability to analysis and criticise is hard.

Of those commentators and writers who can put together an articulate sentence, most appear positive.

What Do I Think?

Having run this web site dedicated to the Tintin movie since the films were first announced over 2 years ago, what do I think?

My personal feelings about the images is mixed but part of the problem is that the film’s producers / Empire magazine made a mistake.

By having the cover as a specially created image and basing it on an iconic Tintin image, they were only ever going to highlight the differences between Herge’s artwork and the film’s style.

The cover image itself is not that good either. The detail is amazing but most people don’t see the detail, they see something this size ….

EmpireCover-Small.jpg

And it does the film no favours. Tintin looks a bit unnatural but Snowy look stuffed. An albino Scooby-Do was how one person described him and I’m with them on that.

It is in the stills from the actual film that we learn a lot more. Here, the context, the background and the story all come into play. They will also of had more time and attention payed to them than the cover.

This instantly recognisable scene is great because you can instantly recognize it. The world around the characters is wonderfully detailed and lifelike but…

… there is something about the posture of the three charaters, Haddock and Snowy in particular, that looks wrong. Snowy seems stuffed again and Haddock looks like he is suffering from a bad case of rag-doll physics.

Oddly, in this scene, the problem is reversed. I think this is from the first meeting of Haddock and Tintin and here the characters look wonderful. The real emotion on Haddock’s face is there for all to see. His hair and imperfect, aged skin really give a realism to the character.

However, the background could be fantastic but is mostly blotted out by the harsh light behind Haddock. This is a real shame as the sou’wester on the right looks great. The lightning in this still spoils it by distracting from the character and the background.

So What Have We Learnt From The First Images?

The visuals have had a mixed response but the film was always going to generate this sort reaction. Unless it looks 100% like the original artwork it is inevitable that people will complain. Personally I’m excited by them, trusting to the directors to make the look of the film work within the context of a 3d movie, not as a magazine cover.

What is far more important is wether the film captures the spirit of Tintin – the sense of adventure, the humour and above all, the characters. To answer these questions, we must wait another year.

27 Comments

  1. Mike Dutton

    The thing about this is that we shouldn’t have been given pictures.

    These ones are clearly snapped right from the film. In motion, these scenes would work perfectly, I’m sure. Everyone knows that most of the times, pictures taken from moving scenes look awkward. As for Snowy, the Empire picture of Snowy looks indeed like a Scooby-Doo snap, but that picture isn’t going to be in the film. The artwork of Snowy will look different in motion.

    That’s why I love these images, because I’m looking ahead, rather than sticking to what I have, and I already know that film-wise, Tintin is going to be great. But we shouldn’t have got any pictures, all the same. We should have gotten a trailer, and then nothing until the film gets released, except for maybe some character snaps. I know we have these pictures, but the thing is, we should have got those after a trailer.

    Bottom line, I love the style of the film, and I’m looking forward to the movie even more. I see nothing wrong with this movie, and may never have anything bad to say about it until I see the film.

  2. Proman

    Snowy does come off a little flat on the cover, but, remember, that this is image wascreated specifically for the cover, is not mocapped and is taken without any prior context or motion. I think Snowy is a lot perkier in the other image (also not that he’s not as large on there as well) and I’m sure he’ll be fine.

  3. Proman

    Yes, there will be many more images in the magazine which comes out on the 4th of November. When we will see fullsized original movie stills in high definition nonprint quality is anyone’s guess though.

    I just want add that two comments in I a don’t know why I’m being defensive. I think it’s anabsolutely gorgeous cover, all things considered. I think that differences are ok, (I mean there better be differences!) and Empire’s logic in going for a famous image was solid. Let me people see the differences first why hide them. Let them get used to them.

    And I hardly feel it’s an insult when the character named “Snowy” is called an albino πŸ˜‰ .

  4. Jonathan P

    My issue with the prospect of a Tintin movie is wider (and I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of other) – is Tintin even “filmable”? Is this a movie which should even be attempted? How can something which lives and breathes on the printed page translate to the big screen and 3-D? How can something so close to the hearts and minds of so many being rendering into something which looks (at first glance) like a poor man’s Polar Express which is really saying something? Is this another example of the Americans (for it is always they) taking something beautiful and converting it into marketable movie assets in the pursuit of $?

    My biggest issue (and apologies if I am mistaken in this) is the fact that Spielberg wasn’t even a childhood fan of Tintin. Instead, it’s something which he is simply appropriating now. I could probably (just about) live with this project if it was being undertaken by someone steeped in Tintin’s world.

  5. Pe-ads

    I completely agree with you, Chris.

    I think, too, that the images will look much better when appearing at 1/25th of a second πŸ˜€

    Ah, the internet. The hate. The hate about the haters. And the hate about them.

  6. Mike Dutton

    In response to Jonathan P, Speilberg has been a fan of Tintin for nearly 30 years. That’s long enough for him to get an idea.

  7. Emily

    I agree with almost everything that this article says. Except for the harsh lighting behind the Captain. It looks so dramatic. I can imagine the camera zooming in on his face as the non-diagetic music climaxes, only to hear him say, “M-mother?” Then start bawling like a baby. Good times, good times. πŸ˜€

    Will someone scan images from the Empire magazine? I’d like to see the other characters, but I don’t know if we get the magazine in little old Tasmanialand here in Aus.

    Also! @Johnathan P. Herge always said that if anyone could bring Tintin to life, it was Spielburg. This has been a project close to Mr. S’ heart for years. Just sayin’.

  8. Jonathan P

    Interesting – but Spielberg crucially not a childhood fan and that makes a massive difference imo. Ultimately, we will just have to wait and see. There wil be purists (possibly myself included) who won’t even want to watch the film for fear that it will do bad things to an immaculate creation. Bloody hollywood.

  9. Mike Dutton

    @Jonathan P: Why refuse to watch it for fear it will be bad? If you do that, you’ll never know if it’ll be good and you’ll miss out. And why so pessimistic? Empire’s cover isn’t a real image of of the film, and we’ve only had two pictures. At least wait for a trailer or more pictures before you decide whether or not you want to see the film.

  10. Mike Dutton

    @Jonathan P: The film may not need to be made, but if that’s the case, there are dozens of unnecessary films out there. I kind of see where you’re coming from, but I still think it will be nice to see how they come out in this film. It may not be perfect, but it’ll most likely be good. After all, they are putting a lot of effort into it. They only just finished filming this year, and the motion capture was probably rushed for this magazine. I think the film will be golden, even if the quality isn’t as good as the books. I most likely won’t be just as good as the books, I’ve convinced myself of that already, but I’m still looking forward to what they’re giving us.

  11. Emily

    Does he need to be a childhood fan? The books are meant to be from ages 7 to 77. And he is a good director afterall, his multiple nominations and many awards say so. I have faith he’ll do a good job. I’ve seen what he’s done with Indiana Jones, as did Herge (who was himself impressed). However, I think that what’s most important about Spielberg being on this project is that he’s worked on films for children, adults and overall families. He should be able to accomodate everyone, just as the books do. Ages 7 to 77. If not, then there will always be the books. No one is changing those! πŸ˜€

    Obviously the film won’t be comparable to the books themselves – I don’t think anybody other than Herge could ever recreate the books in any medium, (CGI/motion capture/live action/animation/stage production/radio dramatisation). But I do think it’ll be another enjoyable addition to the Tintin franchise. I don’t think the animated cartoons captured the subtlety of the books, but they’re what lead me to the books themselves. And if anything, that’s the best part of making any sort of adaptation. Bringing new faces to the world of Tintin. πŸ™‚

    Also! Filming took place in 2009. Which means that it’s been in production for almost 2 years. And we still have another year to wait!

    @Pe-ads, much obliged! Thank you very much! πŸ˜€

  12. Dave

    YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!
    I went to the shop this morning for this edition of Empire and on the front was ‘Ironman’. Checked the date – Dec 2010 – so it looks like Australia misses out again. I need to request a copy from overseas somehow…
    We get sick and tired of being the last ones to get any movies / TV series here in Oz. Sorry for the whinge but I was looking forward to getting my copy today, only to be VERY cheezed off and disappointed.

  13. Pe-ads

    @Dave

    Sorry, dude! I’ll hopefully be walking to the shops today to grab a copy, and will hopefully be able to scan some stuff over the next week, if it’s not too illegal *looks round shadily*

  14. Jonathan P

    Emily – can’t believe you said “Tintin franchise”. You’ve proved my point right there.

    To me – Tintin is not, should never be and will never be a “franchise”. Maybe I’m an ingΓ©nue, but to me Tintin is art and life. It’s intertwined with childhood and the experience of being a child. It’s about nostalgia and the yearning for a time that will never be again. But crucially, yes, it has stood the test of time and can be appreciated and enjoyed by young and old alike.

    “Does he need to be a childhood fan?” I would say 100% yes. I think that anyone who didn’t read Tintin as a child can never really “get it” in the same way. Reading say “The Calculus Affair” as an adult (and with all that accumulated baggage and emotional cynicism) is a qualitatively different experience to reading as a 7 year old when the world was a playground and anything was possible.

    Couldn’t care less that Spielberg is a “good director”, that’s totally beside the point as far as I’m concerned. I have no doubt that he’ll do the best job that he can do. To me the point is more fundamentally that it’s a job that doesn’t need to be done. Forgive me if “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” doesn’t fill me with wild enthusiasm for the project.

    Tintin IS the books for me. Any other medium is a pointless recreation of a beautiful thing.

  15. Louise A

    I know childhood Tintin fans (myself included – Herge was my inspiration to become an artist and writer) are terrified of the books they loved becoming watered down, having the brilliance taking from them or generally being ruined for the point of a profit, but we have to remember IT WAS INEVITABLE that Tintin was going to be made into a film, especially considering the dawn of the advanced film technology motion capture. And if it HAD to be made, which it obviously DID, then why not put it into the hands of some of the best film makers on the planet, with some of the most high-tech equipment that exists today, along with an ethusiasm that we can relate to. It may be a ‘pointless recreation’ but it was going to happen, and we might as well enjoy the ride instead of grumping about it – no offence intended.

    With regards to the pictures, maybe they shouldn’t have released them because now nitpickers are ripping them to shreds – I must admit they do look a little stiff, God forbid a replay of ‘The Polar Express’ – but at least they’ve given us an idea of the feel for the film. And with the amount of time, energy, money and expertise sunk into this project, it’s hardly likely they’ll leave it jerky, awkward and generally on the visual level of most of the CGI films being churned out. This is motion capture at its best! Remember Avatar? Yeah – that’s what I’m anticipating.

    Just relax and cast judgement after you’ve seen the film. Give the guys a break…

  16. Dave

    @ Pe-ads.

    Thanks for the consideration!

    The funny thing is that the big corporations cry when people in Australia download stuff off the net. Well ‘duh. If you kept up with technology and released movies and TV series (and now magazines) at the same time you wouldn’t have this problem. Top Gear is the most downloaded show in Oz because our episodes on TV are at least 2 years old. Hopefully they will wake up one day and realise…

    I have ordered my copy through Empire online. Now I have to wait…

  17. Stephen

    Reading your article has gotten me looking at the pictures up close and reconsidering them again. My first impression was that they looked great. I admit that like many I too am not impressed by the way Snowy was portrayed on the cover. To me part a problem he has is that has body is shaped very much like a right triangle, that not only isn’t typical of Snowy’s body but also produces an incredibly unnatural effect below the legs on the right and in the way the neck connects to the head. Also, the shape of his snout looks wrong. Rather than an albino scooby doo I would call him a white computerized slightly less hairier deformed version of Jock from Lady and the tramp (compare Snowy’s nose and snout to http://files.dogster.com/pix/dogs/38/258038/258038_1139017086.jpg as opposed to http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/tintin2011.gif ) However I will give it to them that unless we complain about the color of Tintin’s socks (I hope we can all agree that that would be taking this a little bit too far…) I really don’t have anything to complain about as far as how Tintin is done. I love him! If course he is different than the cartoon but that is by no means a negative statement. I will have to get used to the fact that Tintin’s nose will not be shaped like spongebob’s anymore (forgive me purists,those two should NEVER be in the same sentence, I know…). But as many of you have pointed out,this IS only a cover shot,probably even rushed,and not actually from the movie. Going back to Snowy I am in complete agreement with Chris on the fact that what we can really learn should be from the stills from the film. Snowy looks much better than he does on the cover,his ears,shape and tail matching perfectly to his real form (I think even his snout looks better,though it is hard to tell. They may have just had to change his snout the same way Tintin’s nose had to change. I guess I can live with it…). He does look stuffed in both,but I strongly believe that will be solved by the time we see a trailer and all of this is in motion. I also think that will solve Chris’ problem with the lighting in the Haddock shot. I think the light will only be in that strong for a split second,as the camera slowly focuses on Haddock’s face. I also think his expression will be solved when this is seen in motion. Have you ever watched faces from a movie on DVD frame by frame? Occasionally I do and some of the faces of otherwise threatening or lovable characters become terribly ridiculous and strange. It makes for a good laugh but not for a good first view of captain Haddock. But when we see this moving so fast that we may not even distinguish this one frame from all the others that precede and follow it I’m sure it will make an incredible introduction of Haddock. On the subject I wonder if Tintin will still meet Haddock drunk after hitting him on the head or if they will have a completely different first meeting that is shown here…only time will tell.
    I love the way the water and clouds are done in the frame with the sea plane…this will definitely be a beautiful film to watch. I can’t tell if Haddock is yelling something at the plane or about to fall off of the boat into the water (I doubt it because Snowy and Tintin don’t look like they are having that problem at all…but then again they aren’t drunk either. Tintin’s position looks just like him
    I could become obsessive and demand that every little detail be exactly like the book,but that simply will not be and that doesn’t HAVE to be bad. I will look forward to seeing a really good 3-D movie BASED on my favorite cartoon characters. I really like the style this movie is taking on.
    And at Jonathan P,whoever you are, I understand your position holding to the fact that there doesn’t NEED to be a Tintin movie and that the books are the books,can not be replaced, and that such should not even be attempted. No matter how good this movie is it will never come close to Herge’s masterpieces. However,that doesn’t mean that a movie based off of Tintin and his adventures needs to be hated just because it is a movie about Tintin. Should the movie be made? The fact is people have already made full length movies off of him,both animated and live action,and every true fan knows what a let down THOSE were…In my mind I actually don’t even consider that the REAL Tintin ever had any adventures with blue oranges or turks. You can’t ruin his name in the film industry more than it already is,all you could do is remind people of it with a new film. But unlike all other previous movies this film has two major directors working on it (one who has been reading these books for 30 years and another one who is famous for trying to stay as close to the original book he is taking to the movies as he possibly can) along side good actors (who,regardless of whether they will be or not,are generally not very famous) working with the best technology they have to make a good movie worth watching off of a really good story. Sure it will make money. You can debate whether that was the intention from the beginning or not when they took on this project. If you want to complain about people using Tintin to make cash log on to his official website and check out his shop instead of complaining about US movies. But when was the last time you watched a movie that had really good,lovable,funny characters,a fascinating,captivating,interesting story,a beautiful artistic style and a high level of detail,work and interest put into it by the people in charge of it’s production? There have been so little in the past few years it’s hard to even remember them. I’m tired of there never being anything worth watching that you can look forward to,enjoy,and watch again and again. I don’t care if it’s 3-D or not,black and white or color. I don’t care if the director created the story himself,read it when he was seven,read it when he was 30 or read it when he was 80. I don’t care if the actors are billionaires or all unknown actors. If somebody can make a movie that has all of those things,I for one am going to watch it and look forward to it. And if Tintin makes that movie happen, so be it! It isn’t so much a question of whether it SHOULD be a movie or not,but whether or not it will make a good movie and it the people in charge can make it work. You can disagree,but I would say yes to both and have believed that for 2 years now as I’ve followed this blog. If you want to be a spoilsport and talk about how much better the books will be because Herge was a genius and the director isn’t as big a fan as we are,find a different blog to comment on. If you want to follow what may regardless be the creation of the best film to come out next year,hang around here and wait for the movie with the rest of us devoted Tintin fans. I think that the wait will be worth it.

  18. Jonathan P

    Dear Stephen,

    I agree with some (not all) of what you say. Ultimately, I have mixed feelings about the project, but happy to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    In any case, as you say, it can hardly be worse than any of Tintin’s previous appearances on the silver screen.

    “If you want to be a spoilsport and talk about how much better the books will be because Herge was a genius and the director isn’t as big a fan as we are,find a different blog to comment on.” Er…no. I’ll comment right here thanks. It’s a pain this democracy lark. The exchange of differing viewpoints and opposing ideas. But wars were fought and lives were lost so that we could disagree with each other on a forum such as this.

    Finally, please may you use paragraphs in the future since you are not, I think, Jose Saramago or Alessandro Baricco.

    Cheers,

  19. Philippe

    Hi everybody

    As a Frenchman, I must confess that I couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical when I heard that Mrs. Spielberg & Jackson were taking on Tintin… I grew up with Tintin and many other comic characters for comic books are simply huge in the French culture (as in others of course). But seeing the first pictures makes me really want to see this movie!

    I’ve liked the cartoons done by our Canadian cousins, however the pictures are of course rather flat. My biggest anxiety was a movie like the 2 French movies created in the 60s, so it is a relief to see that they are animation movies.

    I like both Spielberg and Jackson and hope they will do justice to this huge icon.

    All the best!
    Philippe

  20. Stephen

    Ok. Sorry Christopher both on the extension of that last comment of mine and of that last comment. I got carried away (I have a tendency to go on and on and on…) and a bit angry. My apologies. I didn’t mean to try to take away your right to disagree or your freedom of writing where you please. But it did strike me as sort of strange that now,after following this blog for a very long time (which used to actually be called Tintin movie) and having waited incredibly impatiently for the first images to come out from the movie since January of 2009,they finally come out and all of the sudden somebody comments (maybe not but I think for the first time on this blog) on how the movie shouldn’t even be made. I got really defensive to this project I’ve been following for so long (and I’m not the only one :-D). When I made that comment about commenting somewhere else I was really thinking more along the line that you can comment here,but you probably won’t find much that you will like here because pretty much everything on it revolves around the production of the Tintin movie,and most people here will be as pro-Tintin movie as I am. But I encourage you to stay and comment and follow it as we all get a better idea of what it really will be like. We still have a long way to go before we can make up our minds on that. I can hardly wait to see it!

  21. Liz

    I love the passion generated by this (certainly controversial) topic. To me, it was actually a disappointment to find they had made it into 3D, as I was expecting the actors to be transformed using makeup, costumes, etc. Old school, I know – like the French live action film “Tintin et les Oranges bleues”…but despite the fact that no actor could EVER be made to look exactly like the Tintin of the comics/cartoons, and indeed the other limitations, I would prefer this.

    Perhaps it is because I’m not a fan of 3D in general. I don’t like the idea of our beloved 2D characters becoming 3D, comparable to Shrek and computer game characters. Perhaps I’m also a purist by this definition, but to me the Haddock, Thomson and Thompson, and Barnaby of the stills look nightmarishly ugly, even though I concede they bear greater resemblance to the comic characters than would be possible with real people (i.e. big noses, etc.). But the whole point of a comic is that it is DRAWN and some form of art…turning it into 3D is a travesty.

    I find the new Snowy absolutely unspeakable. Not only does he look positively unnatural, “stuffed”, like the article says: he’s repulsive! They’ve turned the cutest cartoon canine into something unlovable. An unlovable Scooby Doo-type “thing”.

    The one positive thing I can say about these images from the film is that Tintin seems surprisingly accurate. There is no attempt to make his face look like the drawn face – even in the shadows it looks realistic. But to me this is a good thing. He actually looks cute. He isn’t a 2D comic book character, but he isn’t “real” either. To me he represents the golden mean I think the creators of the movie tried, and failed, to achieve with the other characters. He is caught between two worlds; he has just enough of the physiognomy of the comic character, combined with the realistic face, to make me happy. And yes, me. This whole rant is exclusively my own opinion and I am aware that other fans may not, and will not, feel the same way.

    And though I’m sure I’ll inevitably be disappointed by the movie, I do believe it is in good hands and will be as good as a 3D Tintin movie can be.

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