TinTin Here We Come

The Adventures of TinTin. You’ve probably heard of it, and depending on how worldly your upbringing you may have read the Hergé comics it’s based on. This film, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, is big in vision, creation, and intentions. The newly released domestic trailer furthers this point in an attempt to promise epic adventure to American audiences who still raise an eyebrow at a movie about a unicorn.

Sad as it may be, there’s a reason the film dropped its subtitle: “The Secret of the Unicorn.” One, that’s too long for a title. I don’t like Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as a title and that’s only six words. That’s just how marketing works. Short, concise terms that people can remember easily. Second, no one is going to treat a movie about unicorns seriously. Yes, it’s a metaphor. Yes, it’s suppose to be a children’s fantasy story. But people treat unicorns like seeing the term pretty pony in a movie – its childish on the standards of family-friendly films. Enter shorter title!

Next, is the problem of domestic ticket sales. TinTin will sell abroad. There’s no trouble there. It’s like Harry Potter – you know people will see it because, as much as some like to complain about film adaptations screwing up the source material, in the end they love seeing their favorite stories adapted to the silver screen. Hergé, a Belgian artist, is well known in non-American homes, but not so much domestically. American audiences are also more skeptical towards motion-capture 3D films, a topic that could be discussed later.

Hence, TinTin trailers have to show off a fully animated, hyper-realistic motion capture 3D children’s story and convince viewers that this film, like all successful animated films, can be enjoyed by kids, their parents, and teens hanging out on the weekend. To accomplish this, the trailer shows us a true epic: it’s a mystery that starts in the past and then rediscovers itself in the present. TinTin and his dog attempt to unlock the secrets of the unicorn, which soon enough takes them aboard a cruise ship where they encounter Captain Haddock. From here we see vast deserts, ocean paradises, Moroccan towns, and more. There’s the ominous villain seemingly trying to kill our young adventurer – the nerve! Plus a few glimpses of comic relief and fun filled chases and all around adventure. It crosses time and space and is the very definition of adventure. It also shows enough of the animation and characters to show off it’s precision but also prove it isn’t so realistic it falls in the uncanny valley.

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Less commercially, TinTin has greater pressure on it for Paramount and Sony, who had to co-finance the massive undertaking. Similar to Avatar, TinTin is an experiment in whether audiences will take to the animation and 3D. I loved the trailer and look forward to a midnight IMAX 3D release, but they don’t have to convince me – they have to convince everyone else to spend $15-20 on the ticket. Only time will tell whether the film is a success and worthy of sequels, as Jackson and Spielberg are ready to give us.

I’m excited for TinTin, though not necessarily as much as other winter (or summer, even) films. What about everyone else? Are you familiar with the Hergé stories? excited for the film adaptation?

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3 thoughts on “TinTin Here We Come

  1. I hadn’t heard of this fim until now, it looks really good. I’m curious though, why don’t you think Tintin would work as a live action film? Also, why motion capture over hand-drawn animation?

    1. Haha, I actually answer both of those questions (I think) in another TinTin article I wrote about some of the criticism currently held against it. I’ll be interested to see what you think of that article (click this!), but here’s a tease:

      Basically, TinTin has a huge fan following from the comic strip, and a large part of what made it so successful was the style of art. So, no live-action because that would be incredibly insulting against the original Hergé work. I’ve never read the comic and even I agree with that mentality. As for hand-drawn, I don’t think a film like that is as marketable or profitable as a mo-cap 3D IMAX film, especially when it’s a big budget Hollywood production.

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