The Adventures of Tintin Review and Blu-ray Features
The Adventures of Tintin
21 Dec 2011
Interview with Cast and Director
Question: Mr. Spielberg, can you talk about what inspired your passion to collect Norman Rockwell, and how his images affect your films?
Steven Spielberg: Norman Rockwell has been one of my favorite artists and illustrators over the years. I was raised with Rockwell, because when I was a kid, we used to get the Saturday Evening Post at our house all the time, by subscription. I had nothing better to do than look at the pictures, and realize the cliche that one picture is worth a thousand words, which is really true with Rockwell.
His images spoke volumes about America and family and community and religion and faith. I was a collector, so when I started collecting art, the first art I collected was Rockwell. We had a very successful exhibit at the Smithsonian. George Lucas took his Rockwells and combined them with mine, and we had this amazing event there.
You’re probably seeing images that remind you of Rockwell in Tintin because of the color palette and because it’s bright. It’s a bright film, and Rockwell always painted very vivid paintings. Also because I allowed the camera, sometimes in a simple frame, to say a lot about what was going on in the story.
Q: Mr. Spielberg, you’re one of the most influential filmmakers of the last 40 years. What kind of pressure does that put on you, knowing that people take so much from your work?
SS: The pressure really is the actual production process of movie-making. Whatever happens afterward is none of my business. It’s never been my business, it just happens. It goes out into people’s lives, and affects them. Whatever effect any of my films have on audiences, I stop at the door. I make them, and go outside when they’re over.
Q: Mr. Spielberg, what is the key ingredient to creating characters that not only entertain your viewers, but also teach them life lessons?
SS: It’s actually a combination of things. There’s no one magic answer, because we’re an extraordinary art form, this business. It’s a collaborative art form, more than any other business and any other art form. There’s more collaboration going on in making movies than anything else.
I need to acknowledge the collaborative art that this is, because if I didn’t, then I would lead you to believe that I did everything. I couldn’t shoot Tintin without the best support team anyone could ever dream for. I couldn’t have made this movie if I didn’t have producer Kathy Kennedy with me for 28 years, trying to get this thing off the ground.
Then when we cast the movie, the greatest contribution, I think, that Peter Jacksonmade to this movie was to cast Jamie Bell as Tintin. It was Peter’s idea. They worked together on King Kong, and Peter came to me with the idea, which I thought was inspired. I think Jamie invested Tintin with a great deal of himself and a little bit of me.
Jamie had a complete understanding of what Herge wanted all those years. Jamie understood the poses, he studied Tintin’s poses. He became Tintin on the first day of motion capture, it was amazing.
Then Nick Frost, he’s not interchangeable with Simon Pegg. (laughs) I have joked around with you, you’re an entirely different human being, even though he looks like the other guy in Tintin. But they’re worlds apart, because the greatest performance was given by Nick. Simon didn’t do a very good job at all. (laughs) Nick carried him during the whole movie, Simon tried to play catch-up with Nick, he couldn’t quite succeed. But I would have said the same thing about Nick if Simon was here.
Nick Frost: Yeah, I do what I can. (laughs)
Q: Jamie, were you able to relate to your character?
JB: I’m not a particularly adventurous person. I’m more of an anti-traveler, kind of likeHerge was. Herge was a guy who really didn’t travel the world at all, in great deal. He would buy National Geographic magazines, and sit in his armchair and draw it. He really didn’t do a lot of the traveling himself.
The spirit of Tintin is the thing about him, he’s a beacon of excellence for children. His moral compass is pointing in the right direction. He is a document of the 20th century. He was the eyes of an ever-changing European continent in that time of history. He’s historical. The spirit of that is timeless.
He’s also a character that relies on nothing else than his own grid and his natural, fearless, heroic instinct. That’s a great message, you can be great just by being yourself. I think that’s awesome.
Q: Mr. Spielberg, you said Tintin is a part of you. Can you talk about what he’s meant to you in your life personally?
SS: Well, I always thought that Tintin never dropped the ball. He had laser micro-vision. Like Sherlock Holmes, he had the gift of deductive reasoning. He would figure things out by using his problem-solving abilities in order of the problems. I also feel like that’s the way I approach movies. Tintin is a reporter, a journalist, he goes around the world, he looks for a good story to report. He then gets involved in the story, and the story then becomes about him.
I go around the world, looking for stories to tell. Once I find a story to tell, I become very involved in the story, and I make the movie. In a sense, I’ve always admired Tintin’s preoccupation with the prize. He’s always got his eye on the prize.
Just like movies, we’ve always got obstacles in the way. I made a movie like Jaws, and I had mechanical problems. I had the weather against me. Tintin is trying to find the secret to the Unicorn, and he has the force of nature called Captain Haddock against him. But they’re best friends, it’s a buddy movie in a way. It’s really an Odd Couplestory. But Tintin never leaves the path to discover his secrets, and that’s what makes it funny and breathtaking.
Q: Mr. Spielberg, how would you compare and contrast your relationship with Peter Jackson on this film, to the one you had with George Lucas?
SS: The big difference with George and me is that he gets very involved. He’s the one who writes the story and comes up with the story. We all work together on the script, so it’s a big collaboration, such as I have with Peter Jackson. Then when I start making the movie, George goes away, and I don’t see him again for maybe six, seven months, until I show him my cut of the movie.
With Peter, he was on my set everyday. But not physically, his head was on a TV screen. He’d be in Wellington, New Zealand, where it would be 4 o’clock in the morning. It was 8 o’clock in the morning in Los Angeles.
Peter appeared for 31 days of motion capture photography, just to be there to lend his advice and give suggestions from time to time. Sometimes I would walk over to the monitor to ask Peter a question, and I would find Peter sleeping. (laughs) We would go, Peter, Peter. (He’d say) Oh, about the last take. So I had a collaborator on set for all of the motion capture. I felt so safe with Peter.
Q: It’s been 40 years since Duel and Amblin’. As great as Tintin is, you wouldn’t be able to make it without the unlimited resources at your disposal. Does making something on such a small scale as your first films still excite you?
SS: They do, they really excite me. I’ve been doing some small scale work on television. But if I ever found a small story that empowered me to direct it, about a couple characters in a room, I would do it. I like all kinds of stories, I just don’t go for big epics.
It just so happens that some of these movies aligned themselves, and they have big production possibilities. But they’re also intimate stories. War Horse is one of the most intimate stories I’ve ever made. Yet it’s set against a big mural of history. Tintin is just fun entertainment. It’s just a big ride I wanted to go on, and take everyone with me.
Q: What does Tintin mean to everyone on the panel?
JB: I’m European, so I grew up with Tintin. In Europe, it’s hard to grow up without seeing Tintin and his dog. It’s a generational thing, it’s handed down to you. Friends of mine like to read Tintin. Being a massive fan before this film, and now being in the film, it’s a very massive responsibility.
The books have sold over 220 million copies, and have been translated into 80 languages. Lots of people internationally have ownership over this character. For me, it was important to evoke the spirit of Herge and the books.
NF: I think for me and Simon, the chance to play such iconic characters, Thomson and Thompson, and the chance to work with Steven and Jamie and James Bond (Daniel Craig) was great. I like being in films. The chance to bring to life these bumbling Interpol police officers was great as well.
SS: They have a much bigger role in the next Tintin movie Peter Jackson is going to direct.
Q: What details can you give on the sequel?
SS: It’s being written right now, and Peter’s going to direct it after he does The Hobbit. I’m going to produce it with him, as he produced this with me. We have the stories, and the book we’re adapting from Herge. We can’t wait to get started.
RT/Meta Critic Review
Spielberg has made his first foray into computer-generated 3D animation. He proves a natural with the form, his (virtual) camerawork dizzying but fluid, and never confusing. (Click here to see)
It’s delirious stuff, often laugh-out-loud funny.(Click here to see)
It’s already been established that The Adventures of Tintin is a marvel of newfangled digital/performance capture hybrid filmmaking, and no surprise, it translates exceptionally well to Blu-ray. This is truly one of those “breathless” 1080p transfers; detail and definition are so strong, the digital world and characters so finely rendered, that even today it’s a marvel and a real treat for even those eyes most accustomed to the excellence of a pristine 1080p transfer. Indeed, the image reveals impeccable clarity and a strong sense of depth, both evident even in the most challenging of scenes, such as on a foggy morning on city streets or on the high seas in relative darkness. Every object is marvelously detailed and looks straight off the Paramount computers. The transfer offers up an endless array of eye candy, whether in bright or dark locales, in the city or out on the sea, out in the desert or within the bowels of a dark and dingy vessel. Facial details are superb, and the way clothes are both textured and move with such natural ease will dazzle even the most hardened of viewers. Likewise, the color palette proves mesmerizingly vibrant in every scene. Tintin’s red hair, Snowy’s white fur, the photorealistic color of ocean water, any number of hues adorning clothes, desert sands, or whatever happens to be in-frame are all presented with the utmost attention to lifelike coloring. Better, black levels are superb in every scene. The only downside is occasional light banding and aliasing, just enough to warrant a knock on the overall score, but suffice it to say, this is otherwise a pristine transfer and one of the very first Blu-ray fans should pull from the shelf for demonstration purposes.
The Adventures of Tintin splashes onto Blu-ray with a dazzling, balanced, and ever-effective DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. It seems Paramount is embracing 7.1 audio for all of its major new release titles (see Hugo and Puss in Boots). They’re all excellent, and this one is no different. The track delivers fantastic clarity in all situations and with all elements on the track: music, dialogue, and sound effects. John Williams’ score plays with remarkably natural presence; it’s seamlessly spaced and enjoys crisp definition throughout the entire range, solidified by a positive low end that ties it all together. It does play as rather dominant up front, any surround support not immediately evident though certainly not to the detriment of the overall sense of pleasant immersion the music delivers. Sound effects play with tremendous clarity, attention to detail, and space. Chaotic action scenes deliver moving and location-specific elements with ease and unflappable clarity, whether swerving cars, gunfire, or chaotic thunderstorms. Supporting elements prove equally superb. Light city ambience, gently rolling waters, or the hum of a large boat engine are faultlessly executed and help a great deal in delivering a sense of true, total immersion into the film. Dialogue is consistently clear and focused up the middle of the soundstage and never lost to surrounding elements. This is another first-class, reference-quality new release soundtrack from Paramount.
The Adventures of Tintin contains a number of features that chronicle the many processes involved in the making of the movie.
- Toasting Tintin: Part 1 (1080p, 1:24): A cast and crew celebration, including a Spielberg toast, for the beginning of the performance capture elements on January 23, 2009.
- The Journey to Tintin (1080p, 8:54): Director Steven Spielberg discusses his first exposure to the character during the reading of a French review for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The piece looks back at the character and his adventures, Peter Jackson’s memory of and take on Tintin, Hergé’s ability to draw his comic in cinematic terms, Spielberg’s first efforts to communicate with Hergé before his death, his long history with the project, the digital elements that were necessary to the making of the film, and the importance of using motion capture technology to give the movie the specific look necessary to translate the comic into a film.
- The World of Tintin (1080p, 10:46): A fun piece that looks back at the history of the character, the cast and crew’s memory of their exposures to the character, the comic’s basics which are reflected in the film, the story and rhythm of the film, the role of Captain Haddock in the film and the series, the combining of twoTintin adventures for this film, and Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish’s work as film’s screenwriters.
- The Who’s Who of Tintin (1080p, 14:18): A close look at the intersection of the human actors and the Hergé characters from the Tintin universe, with a sprinkling of performance capture animation work.
- Tintin: Conceptual Design (1080p, 8:38): Crew members share the process of designing the film, translating the comic world into a cinematic world, keeping character design true to the original Hergé, and location construction.
- Tintin: In the Volume (1080p, 17:54): A detailed look inside “The Volume,” a 3D box in which the human performances were captured. The piece also examines the similarities and differences in shooting within The Volume and via more traditional methods for live action, Steven Spielberg’s work with the technology, the props with which the actors interact, the performances of the human actors, the challenges of the process, and more.
- Snowy: From Beginning to End (1080p, 10:11): Cast and crew discuss the canine character, speaking on the name change, the practical models used during the performance captures, animating the final character, and giving it a “voice.”
- Animating Tintin (1080p, 11:00): Even after the performance captures, there’s still the process of animating the movie. This supplement looks at the incredibly detailed and in-depth work required to bring the final product to vivid, complex life.
- Tintin: The Score (1080p, 7:01): An introduction to John Williams’ work on the film, composing various pieces even before much of the film had been made.
- Collecting Tintin (1080p, 3:58): A look at the design of Tintin figurines.
- Toasting Tintin: Part 2 (1080p, 3:12): A toast to celebrate the completion of the film on September 15, 2011.
- DVD Copy.
- UV Digital Copy.
- Digital Copy.