First look at Spielberg and Jackson’s “Tintin”

If you don’t know me well enough yet, then learn now that it’s never too early to look into future releases — and you should read my friggin’ bio. What’s coming out a year from now is infinitely more exciting than that which is close. So for me, that first glimpse of something that’s been talked about (okay, more like that I’ve been following) for ages — like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s “The Adventures of Tintin” — is a special moment. Courtesy of Empire, we have our first look into the character made popular the world over by Belgian cartoonist Hergé.

The images show Captain Haddock, Tintin and Snowy (the dog) waving down a plane for rescue and there’s also a close-up of Haddock’s face. The cover was created especially for the magazine to parody a famous image of the comic strip icon. For a full size of the cover, visit the Empire website as linked to above or buy an issue (and get all the insider content!).

So the first things you’re probably wondering about are a.) Tinhuh? why I should care? and b.) why have Jackson and Spielberg have collaborated to make a cartoon instead of an epic alien-driven fantasy?

A.) Truthfully, I’m no less of a stupid American than that rest of you (Americans reading this post) are because I could only recognize Tintin as a familiar character but not be able to call him by name for the first 20 years of my life. After that, I could only recognize him but knew nothing about the comics. Instead of elaborating for you, just read the Tintin Wikipedia page. Basically, Tintin is possibly the most celebrated European comic ever, with published editions in more than 50 languages.

How I didn’t ever read/hear of Tintin is mind-blowing considering he’s an investigative journalist of all possible professions, and one who goes on all kinds of adventures from the fantastical to mysteries/thrillers. The title of this first of what Jackson and Spielberg hope will be many Tintin films is entitled “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn,” which should give you an indication of the genre this first chapter will fall under.

B.) Spielberg and Jackson have spoken a lot about this project and their reasons for it (read more in this latest edition of Empire), but the number one thing to know about it is motion capture. Much like James Cameron broke ground with mo-cap technology in “Avatar,” “Tintin” will do the same, only there is no human component. The whole world will be created in much the same style as Hergé’s artwork.

Jackson defended mo-cap this way:

“With live action you’re going to have actors pretending to be Captain Haddock and Tintin,” says Peter Jackson. “You’d be casting people to look like them. It’s not really going to feel like the Tintin Hergé drew. It’s going to be somewhat different. With CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylized caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.”

That’s the crux of it right there. Total homage to the artist. I suppose animated CGI would work, but the idea is not to simply bring Tintin to the big screen, but bring him to life as the pioneer of a completely unique medium.

Spielberg says there’s quite a contrast in tone from the beginning to the end as the beginning is more film noir/mystery and the latter portion more ‘amazing adventure,’ but this is going to have a grandiose feel or “hell of an adventure” as Spielberg puts it.

Jamie Bell stars as Tintin (“Billy Elliot,” “Defiance”) and Captain Haddock by Jackson regular and the father of mo-cap, Andy Serkis (aka Gollum). Buddies Nick Frost and Simon Pegg play Thomson and Thompson and some other notables are Daniel Craig, Toby Jones and Cary Elwes.

I think there’s little doubt that “The Adventures of Tintin” will absolutely kill at the worldwide box office. The challenge for Paramount will be creating an awareness campaign that not only appeals to families as any family film aspires to, but creates a sense of something bigger and more epic. With this Empire exclusive, expect a teaser trailer to land in December at the very latest. The film will release stateside on December 28, 2011 and in the UK a whole two months earlier on Oct. 26.


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