In the German translation of the Tintin movie, Captain Haddock, while chasing down the parchment in Morocco, calls out “Mein Schatz,” which means “my precious,” a nod to Andy Serkis’ famous role as Gollum.
The Golden Globe award for best animated film first appeared at the 64th Golden Globe Awards in 2007, given to the 2006 film ”Cars”. Every year since then a Pixar film has won, with awards going to Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. However, this year the award has gone to the controversial film that the Oscars weren’t even going to recognize as an animated film: ”The Adventures of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn”. I’m a huge Pixar fan, but after having followed this movie for so many years, it’s great to see it win such a great award. Spielberg, Jackson, the actors, the animators, and every single person that worked on the movie did an absolutely great job and the work paid off. Hergé would be proud that after so many low quality Tintin movies, the world has seen a Tintin movie that actually won a Golden Globe Award. Congratulations!
It’s interesting to note that every movie that has ever won this award also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with the exception of Cars, which of all films lost to Happy Feet, a film that, like Tintin, used motion capture. So far Tintin has received 6 nominations from the Directors Guild in the four categories devoted to animated film, with three of the five in the Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Motion Picture category. Tintin stands a very good chance of winning an award this February.
As Spielberg took the award, he made sure to recognize all of the main actors as more than just the voices of Tintin and his friends. He finished recognizing Andy Serkis as ”the man of a thousand digital faces”.
Here’s the video of Spielberg receiving the award.
For those of you who may have found this through google or some other way and are not a regular follower of this site, I can assure you that while you will find many, many reviews of ”The Adventures of Tintin” on the internet, you will find very few written by somebody who has been an avid Tintin fan for years to the extent that he has been following every last piece of information available about the progress of this movie since it was first announced almost five years ago that Spielberg was going to pick up his old project and finally make a Tintin movie. Here you will find two such reviews. One is Chris’ review, the guy who started this blog and wrote everything until his schedule got busy and allowed me to write posts. Shortly after the movie premiered over in Europe he wrote a great review for both the Tintin fan and the man who’s never heard of him until now alike. I recommend you check it out here
The other such review of course is mine. I’m probably the biggest American Tintin fan you’ll ever meet. For those of you clueless people out there, Tintin is a very well known comic the Belgian George Remi (pen name Herge) drew from the late 1920s to the 70s. Tintin is a reporter that always finds himself on incredible adventures with his faithful white fox terrier, Snowy. He’s never been popular in the USA, but just about every other country in the world has heard of him. If you think that’s an exaggeration, check out how well Tintin did in the box offices over seas. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this movie much more than I’ve ever looked forward to see any other movie in my life. Did it live up to my expectations? In a world where movie tickets are expensive, is it worth your cash? What if you’re not a Tintin fan? Will you enjoy it?
I hate spoilers as much as you do so need not worry about reading any here. First of all, if you are new to Tintin you will not be lost. The movie does a terrific job of introducing the movie’s main characters. If you are a fan, you will recognise all of them as the characters you know, not as some horribly distorted version of them Hollywood threw together. Everybody making this movie went to great lengths to make sure that the original stories and artwork were respected as much as possible. The movie actually combines two Tintin albums, ”The crab with the golden claws” and ”The Secret of the Unicorn (there’s also a little bit of ”Red Rackhams treasure” in there, but not much), but you’d never know they weren’t one fluent storyline if you’ve never read the books because they are so magnificently blended together. As a matter of fact, while there are certain things that surely only a Tintin fan will appreciate when they watch the film, there are some things only somebody who is not at all familiar with the storyline will experience fully. I had very few problems while I was watching the movie, but one of them was really my own fault: I know the story of ”The Secret of the Unicorn” like the back of my hand. As a result I already knew almost everything that Tintin discovers little by little throughout the film. At some points I thought that the mystery side of the movie had been a bit overdramatized and that Tintin was taking just a little too long to put all the pieces together (quite literally), but again, the answer to the mystery is obvious once you already know the secret. But even when I knew what was coming, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. There are lots of hilarious lines in the film, many straight from the books but most just clever new lines the excellent writers came up with. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that actors only did the voices in this film: every movement from their bodies and faces has captured by computer, and the animators then did an excellent job of putting ”digital makeup” on. Jamie Bell did a very good job as Tintin. Some people have complained in other reviews that the movie is so action packed there is little time for Tintin’s character to be really developed. But the truth is that we know very little about Tintin, and Jamie Bell did a great job at not answering those questions for us. We don’t know who his boss is or who his parents are. We don’t really care. What we do know is that once he sets his mind to do something, he heroicly keeps going against all odds no matter where in the world danger takes him. And the movie does a wonderful job at taking us on the adventure with him.Pretty much every frame of the movie is a piece of art…You could get a sense of what I’m talking about by checking out some of the movie stills or watching the trailers, but you really won’t understand just how great it looks until you see it in the movies. Especially the city of Brussels and the port in Morocco are bright,colorful and incredibly detailed. As far as the people go, they look wonderful to me. They still look like the cartoon characters from the comics, but when you see each individual hair on their heads and the sand and the sweat on their faces as they trod through the desert, you have to remind yourself it isn’t real and congrutalute Weta for their great job. The movie is in a number of formats, but I recommend you go see it in IMAX 3D like I did (if you can find one that doesn’t have all of it’s showtimes filled up with ”Mission Impossible 4”). Chris didn’t particularly like the 3D, but I’ve always been a big fan of IMAX 3D and really enjoyed certain sections when it looked like the dust Tintin’s flashlight was hitting or the woodchips that were exploding or even Captain Haddock’s nose were really in front of my face. Aside from a few moments when the camera pans so quickly a few things seem out of focus, this is a movie that the 3D really works well in, especially on the enormous screen. However I’d say that if you see it in 2D you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing too much because the 3D is more of a fun added bonus to the movie experience.
This is a movie you can take your kids to (they’ll LOVE Snowy), but it’s not just a movie for kids. I fear that many people will go to action packed Mission Impossible 4 and miss one of the best movies that came out this year. What really made the movie for me was Andy Serkis’ brilliant performance as Captain Haddock. Haddock is absolutely hilarious. When you’re not laughing at what he’s doing, you’re laughing at his lines, and when you’re not laughing at his lines you’re probably laughing at his face. He has a Scottish accent in the film (most of us didn’t see him that way in the books) but I fell in love with this version of Haddock immediately as Serkis brought it to life before my eyes. There were times when shots Haddock and a flashback of Sir Francis alternate with a fluency that could only really be acchieved using motion capture.The Thompsons also have a great part in the film, and the only thing I regret about their parts is that I wish they had appeared more in the movie! ”Tintin 2”, which has been officially confirmed, is said to give them a larger role. Daniel Craig did an awesome job as the villain Sakharine, and it’s funny to recognise James Bond playing a villain’s part. He is not the most evil of villains, but he certainly beats (in my mind anyway) the ”Bird Brothers” that were the somewhat pathetic villains in the original stories. I disliked to some degree how Allan, who was a main villain in ”The crab with the golden claws” became more of a wimpy sidekick to Sakharine, but it did work well in the story.
For Tintin Fans (the only spoilers here will be spoilers to non-Tintin fans)
If you are a Tintin fan worried that they’ve taken the stories and thrown in too many pointless action scenes, don’t worry about it. There were really very few sections that I didn’t instantly recognise from one of the books,even when the trailers sometimes make it seem like there are more, and they were anything but annoying. Actually I was very pleased that finally Tintin was doing something new because much of the fun for me in watching the movie was seeing what fun new things the writers could come up with for Tintin to do without insulting the fans. As I said before, the storyline was very familiar to me, and it was good to see some changes to it to make the movie more exciting. The scene in Bagghar with a brilliant cameo appearance of Castafiore and the chaos that follows is actually one of my favorite parts. If Herge could see it today, I think he’d laugh. And the other new scene at the end,a final clash between Haddock and the villain,is a great way to finish their side of the story. Never once do the new scenes seem to make the characters do something against their personality, and if they slow down the story at all it’s only so you can take a moment to enjoy yourself and laugh at what’s going on.
Tintin DOES use a gun (just like he does in the books) but as far as I could tell he never once killed anybody and hardly if ever wounds somebody. He shoots at motors or ropes to get what he wants or protect himself.
Any Tintin fan would be a fool not to go see this in theaters while they still can! Herge’s artwork is apparent from the first 3 seconds of the movie, and both the style and music of the intro feels like you’re watching the beginning of ”Catch me if you can” with about 14 million tributes to the different Tintin albums thrown in. It’s fun to watch moments throughout the movie that have elements thrown in from different books. There are more easter eggs in this movie that any I’ve ever seen, and if you have a good Tintin fan that can go with you to watch the movie you’ll enjoy yourself that much more, because you’ll both be the only people in the theater that know why you’re laughing at what’s on the screen. I won’t say what it is, but there’s a magnificent tribute to ”Explorers on the moon” that I really enjoyed. I can’t wait to own this movie on blu-ray and watch it with all the pizza and popcorn I couldn’t afford when I watched it in IMAX, this time with the remote control to pause the image and read newspaper clippings, compare character’s faces with the albums or look for more references.
You really have to see this movie. Europe loved it for good reasons. If you don’t know who Tintin is, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you DO know who Tintin is, you would make a grave error to not watch this because you are worried about ”what they’ve done to Tintin”. Don’t worry about it, trust me. No matter who you are, this is a must see. It’s the biggest installment in Tintin’s history since Alpha-Art was published.
If I could make a suggestion for the next film it would only be that the next story not revolve as much around a mystery and more around whether or not Tintin will be able to complete his clearly defined objective at all (i.e save Calculus from the Bordurians…hint hint…) I love that heroic side of Tintin that will do anything to save a friend, and I hope to see that developed more in the next film.
Go out America, and enjoy the film. Spielberg, Jackson, Weta, and the whole massive team in the credits, I applaud your hard work. The wait was worth it.
From what I can gather at least two different interviews with Jamie Bell after the press junket for ”The Eagle”, another upcoming film starring Jamie. Both have valuable information for Tintin Movie fans. Very special thanks to Pro-man, Wolfgang and Britto for finding information on these articles!
The first six minutes or so have almost nothing to do with Tintin,but he appears every so often from then on. There’s plenty of interesting info though for 10 minutes. Nothing that’s quite breaking news or anything that reveals much more than we knew already,but certainly worth a watch none the less. For those of you who don’t want to watch the whole video (or for those of you like me who have a computer that won’t have it loaded until the Tintin movie comes out) here is a summary of the Tintin related parts.
Jamie comments on the huge contrast between shooting on location for ”The Eagle” and shooting on a motion capture set where ”nothing is real” and things like a chair or even a camera are represented with pieces of metal. About 8 minutes into the video the interviewer asks a few questions about Tintin. Peter and Jamie have a professional relationship since King Kong. When approached on how he got the part Jamie talks about how he went down to New Zealand to meet with Peter Jackson and ”played around with the technology”. Jamie makes some comments on how he believes that motion capture is the only way to really stay true to Hergé’s artwork,the reason he believes that Tintin is still ”so successful and has withstood the test of time”.
He goes on to say ”I think what Hergé did was an incredible thing”. It’s refreshing to see that the actor playing Tintin is a true fan of Tintin as well. That will certainly show in the movie. Also,although he does not specifically say so in the interview about Tintin,at the beginning of the interview he spends a lot of time talking about how much work and research he put into playing his part in ”The Eagle” to the point where he even learned Gallic. If he was willing to do that for The Eagle,we can only imagine what his work on Tintin must have been like.
When asked if he had more respect for Andy Serkis now,Jamie answered ”Oh,for sure!…I’ve never worked so many times with Andy Serkis and now to actually work with him in something where I’m kind of in his back garden of technology…He is the guru! He is the Gandalf of motion capture!” He goes on to compare how just as Andy ceased to be Andy when he became the beast of King Kong he ceases to be himself when working on Captain Haddock. I can’t wait to see this on screen.
Since Tintin has such a long post production period,Jamie was asked how he was doing waiting to finally see the movie. Jamie replied ”I am itching…literally itching to see some stuff”. He commented on how post things took so long because thing’s are done in bits and pieces and it is so easy to change stuff. ”You just type it into a computer and your whole world pops right back up,so it’s very easy to change things”. Jamie said he was pleased with the images he has seen so far,believes the movie will be very and cool and that it has a ”very very driven kind of action adventure story with some really great characters I think everyone’s gonna love”. Later talking about the reaction of fans who haven’t heard on Tintin he says ”For anyone who are fans of things like Indiana Jones, this is kind of a very fresh take on that with a character that is very well established”
He was then asked about the experience of acting in motion capture and if he acted with others simultaneously or if he acted on his own. He replied that he acted like you would for any other film. ”It’s almost like rehearsing for a play that will never be put on stage.” It doesn’t feel like a movie set,he says,because all it is is a grey room with a bunch of cameras on the ceiling. ”When you’re acting it feels like a rehearsal space,which is really great cause it allows you to feel a lot freer because the room just feels so creative in that sense”. ”It’s really about kind of letting your imagination run wild”.
Jamie later confirms ”Tintin 2” but says the idea right now is to work on it after Jackson is done working on The Hobbit,a project he is very busy on right now and very devoted to. All that’s left in the video of Tintin related interest is his excitement of travelling around the world when Tintin is released,excited about being able to talk about his work with Spielberg and Jackson.
I will post more about a shorter interview in my next post.
Its been a week since the Empire Tintin Issue came out and I’ve had time to digest the images in it.
Below are my thoughts on those images. Note, the images, not the film itself. There is a big difference between a handful of stills and a full length film. Not to mention there is still a year to go and a lot can change. When the film is released I will judge it on its own merits and not pre-judge it.
However, several stills have been released by Spielberg and Co. so they are fair game. It has always been my intention with this blog to write what I think about the film. When I like something, I say so. When I dislike something, I will also say so. You are free to disagree with me and voice your own opinions in the comments in a polite manner fitting of Tintin fans.
Scanned from Empire Magazine
This shot is the cream of the crop.
The texture of Silk’s beard, the look of the Twins, the detailed background, the composition of the shot, the lighting – they are all perfect.
The Not As Good But Still Good
Scanned from Empire Magazine
Dark and moody, full of portent and potential action. The low camera angle and heavy shadows gives the shot a nice feeling of tension.
From Empire’s online gallery
I wrote earlier that I didn’t like “the harsh light behind Haddock”. Interestingly, the print version of this image is much, much darker. This is down to the technological and production differences between VDU displays that emit light and printed matter that reflect light. In the print version, the back lighting looks less out of place and I much prefer the image even though it is harder to make out the details.
From Empire’s online gallery
These two images are the only ones from the film that show the full body lengths of our main characters plus Snowy. In both of them, something looks off-key. Haddock in particular look unnatural in his pose in both. Maybe this is just Andy Serkis’s acting of a drunk and it will look OK in context.
Snowy also doesn’t look right. This may be because he is the only true character animation in the film whilst everyone else is motion-capture.
Given the quality of everything else, I willing to bet that in the film everything will look right but it does leave me with a Polar Express type worry.
I really don’t like this cover. The detail is exquisite but both Tintin and Snowy look really unnatural but without any of Herge’s charm. It would of been much better if they had only used actual images from the film. I suspect that this image is influencing my opinions and unduly increasing my worries about the two previous images.
Am I Excited? You Bet!
Despite all the quibbles and doubts I have about the images, all the signs are that will Spielberg & Jackson capture the look and the spirit of the books. Roll on October 2011!
Apparently, Simon Pegg (Thompson or possibly Thomson) ‘agonised over Tarantino rejection‘ when the filming dates for Tintin and Inglourious Basterds clashed.
The story is pretty thin and originated from the News of the World (not the world’s most reliable paper). I would link to the original sources but the NotW is part of Murdoch empire and now behind a pay-wall.
Burke & Hare
In better and more reliable news, Simon Pegg Andy Serkis (Capt. Haddock) are starring together in the new comedy, Burke & Hare.
Edit: And Paul
Thanks to Tom for reminding me. Pegg and Nick Frost are teaming up for Paul, a comedy adventure where a couple of SF fans find an alien.
Sorry about the annoying 20 second advert before the 1 minute trailer but I can’t get rid of it.
The first on-set photos of the Tintin filming have been released by Empire Magazine
The photo shows Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis in motion capture suits talking to Steven Spielberg. In the background can be seen images from the books, particularly Thompson & Thomson, stuck on the the walls.
The picture comes from Empire Magazie’s 20th anniversary issue which has a special guest editor, Steven Spielberg. More photos are promised when the magazine comes out.
Who is Jamie Bell and why is he playing Tintin?
Bell – A Beautiful Mover
Before being cast as Tintin, Jamie Bell was best known for his staring role in Billy Elliot. Bell was just 14 when he took the title role in this story of a working class boy who wants to be a ballet dancer. The film is set against the backdrop of a grim mining town during the bitter, year long miner’s strike of 1984 and was one of the best British films of the last ten years. It has since been adapted into a book and a smash West End stage play.
Following such as huge hit is difficult for any actor, but for a child actor such success can destroy their career and their life. But between Billy Elliot and getting cast as Tintin, Jamie Bell went back to basics and built his career from the ground up. He played a role in the low budget, World War I horror film Deathwatch with his future Tintin co-star Andy Serkis (Captain Haddock). Bell then had a small role in the 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby.
Jamie Bell and the Youthful Looks
His next film, Undertow, did much to make it clear that Jamie Bell could make the leap from child actor to adult actor. The 2004 film stars the 18 year Bell as a troubled teenager on the run from a murderous uncle. Through the film split the critics, the performance of Bell and his co-star Devon Alan won them Young Artist Awards from the Young Artist Foundation.
There is no doubt that in winning the part of Tintin, Jamie Bell’s youth was significant. Having played one trouble teenager in Undertow, he played a similar role in Dear Wendy. This idiosyncratic film is about a group of gun-totting pacifist and was written by experimental film maker Lars von Trier. The Chumscrubber was Bell’s next film and once again he was playing a troubled teenager, though as a change of pace, this is a dark comedy. Here the focus is prescription medications, video games and the false ideal of middle class American suburbia.
Serkis & Jackson
His next film brought him back together with Andy Serkis. Bell got the part of Jimmy in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Though only a minor role, it was no doubt that it was directly responsible for the casting of Jamie Bell as Tintin. Working with Serkis, Jackson, motion capture and a massive budget provided a great learning experience for Bell and a chance to shine before Peter Jackson.
Finally breaking through into more adult roles in his next film (though for Jamie Bell, Tintin may be a step back in this regard) with Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. Flags of Our Fathers traces the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima and were captured on film by war photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Then it was back to playing disturbed characters in low budget, UK films as Bell starred in the award winning Hallam Foe (Mr Foe in the US). Playing a part completely unlike the clean cut, asexual Tintin, Jamie Bell is the eponymous Hallam Foe. A voyeur with dark obsessions about his dead mother. The film won various awards and Bell was nominated for Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards.
Another CGI, high budget film was next for Jamie Bell in Jumper. This was poorly received by the critics and was summed up by one reviewer as “A tightly made film that could have been so much better. “
Jamie Bell – Dirty and Dangerous
Having played numerous troubled teenagers in various dark film, there was one more before Jamie Bell became Tintin, and this was the Mother of all dark subject matters – the holocaust. Just released in the UK, Defiance is the story of Jewish resistance fighters in Eastern Europe. The film placed Bell alongside Daniel Craig who is to play Red Rackham in The Secret of the Unicorn. </p
Tintin – Once, Twice, Three times?
Jamie Bell as Tintin is a great choice. He is an experienced film actor who can deliver great performances. Of special importance to motion capture films like The Secret of the Unicorn is the ability to move. Billy Elliot showed he has clear control of his body and in action films like Deathwatch, Jumpers and Defiance he has shown the right fighting dynamism to be Tintin. What will be interesting is what human qualities Bell will bring to Tintin. The comic book character is very flat and stereotyped, rarely displaying emotion except when angry at a bully or worried about Snowy. Getting the balance between making Tintin a living breathing character for the audience to empathise with and staying faithful to the books will be a difficult piece of acting.
If Jamie Bell pulls off Tintin, then at least one more film awaits. Peter Jackson is set to direct the second film and there is the possibility of a third. Though not confirmed, it seems likely that production of the second film will proceed soon after the first has finished. Probably adapting Red Rackham’s Treasure, the second part of the adventure started in The Secret of the Unicorn. If studios run to form, this will be released a year after the first. Production of the third film will only start if the first film proves to be a success.
Bell’s Big Chance
As Tintin, Jamie Bell has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with Spielberg with a huge budget and an internationally famous character co
uld springboard Bell into Hollywood’s A-List. Becoming an action film hero and a sex symbol along the lines of Harrison Ford and Matt Damon is entirely possible. But that requires the film to be a smash and that is no easy thing to achieve, even when working with Spielberg and Jackson.
Its being heavily rumored but not yet confirmed that Andy Serkis will play Captain Haddock. Serkis made is name playing Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. As Peter Jackson is directing one of the Tintin movies and his production company is doing all the CGI, I’m not surprised that the excellent Andy Serkis is on-board.