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Zack recently posted his concerns over the teaser trailer for The Adventures of Tintin. As always, Zack is well-reasoned and thinks his thoughts through (if only more of the internet was like that). However, I feel he was a bit too harsh, and as his friend (and life-long nemesis), I want to offer some counterpoints. Also, I should state, this isn’t so much as a counterpoint to Zack’s post, but rather to the seemingly rampant negativity that Tintin has had leveled against it since the release of the trailer.
I agree with Zack that the motion capture can look creepy. Avatar got away with it because they were mo-capping actors into aliens instead of other humans thereby making it seem more “realistic”. However, I’m not willing to write off the motion capture technique just quite yet. I think it can be good if used properly and if the film itself is good. For example, The Polar Express is a fun, if throwaway, Christmas movie. The motion capture seemed to work in that movie’s favor. But then you have films like Beowulf and Mars Needs Moms (which wasn’t motion capture – it was bad CGI) which failed, and I am convinced it was less to do with the animation, and more to do with the films being terrible and that terribleness shined through the previews.
Motion capture and the application of it, of course, is relative to the talent involved. Spielberg and Jackson, despite seemingly being in a slump, can sneeze more talent in a napkin than Robert Zemeckis can in a lifetime. I’m sorry; that is a little harsh, but I don’t think Zemeckis is really all that talented. I like the Back to the Future films (and who doesn’t – unless you are in Al-Qaeda) and Forrest Gump is really remembered more about the special effects (and chocolate [and running]) than the actual story or direction. Most of Zemeckis’s films are middling at best. So, why am I bringing him up when he has nothing to do with Tintin? Well, Zemeckis has become known for motion capture in movies. It’s his thing. And he misuses it again and again. It worked for The Polar Express, but it was a worthless addition to Beowulf.
Spielberg and Jackson know when and when not to use things. They are smart about this. Plus, Tintin has been a labor of love for Spielberg for nearly 30 years. I highly doubt that he would jump into some sort of fad if he didn’t think it would benefit his vision or the movie. Also, Spielberg, through producing and directing, has a much wider experience base and credentials as opposed to other directors. And, lets face it, does Spielberg really need to prove himself? Sure, two of his last three films (Munich was released between War of the Worlds and Indy 4) were lukewarmly received by audiences (although, they were solid money-makers), but what about his other 30+ years of experience? Also, failed to be taken into account is the fact that he has been focusing on producing for the past ten years, and as a producer (who is known to be very hands-on), he has been responsible for Memoirs of a Geisha, Flags of Our Fathers, and True Grit among others.
Jackson, though not having as wide a filmography as Spielberg, has had nothing but critical successes for the past decade. While Lovely Bones seemed to be a misfire, does that take everything away from his work on Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and District 9 (he produced it)?
In short, I am willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt due to the creative staff behind it. Plus, given the low American profile of Tintin, only filmmakers of this caliber can get a property like this made. Speaking of which…
What’s it About?
The trailer gives little indication of what the movie’s story is about. This can be a bad thing at times (I’m looking at you Sucker Punch), but you have to remember: this was a teaser trailer. It was just meant to give audiences a taste of the movie to get some buzz going. To add some mystery. From what I’ve been reading on different sites, it has done exactly that. To disown a movie because the tease trailer doesn’t give enough of an idea of what the story is about, I think, is somewhat short-sighted (especially since when filmmakers like Christopher Nolan or JJ Abrams do it, people love them for it).
Along those same lines, I’ve seen criticisms that this movie will fail because it is an unknown property in America. Fair enough, but by that logic films such as Inception, Toy Story, or District 9 should have been flops because they were unknown properties (and Inception, in particular, also had a confusing, non-telling promotional campaign).
I guess my point is that the level of criticism that is being thrown at this film based on the tease trailer seems utterly perplexing. Have we become that jaded in our movie-going society that we need to crap on everything as quickly as we can in order to seem cool? Of course, I am not referring to Zack (and he should know that). As I mentioned above, he is always puts down well-constructed arguments (and is also way more intelligent than me [not true — ed.]). I’m mainly referring to the all those keyboard warriors who revel in “everything sucksism” so they can get some street cred. And it appears that The Adventures of Tintin is the newest thing in their toy box.