By Samia Kemal ’14
This weekend, Cinestudio showed “The Adventures of TinTin,” an animated movie based off the 1950s comics by Belgian artist, Hergé. The movie originally premiered in theaters on Dec. 21, 2011 and grossed a total of about $370 million worldwide during its run. The movie also won ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ at the Golden Globe Awards, making it the first non-Pixar film to win in the category.
“TinTin” was directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, two heavyweights in their own respective arenas. Both were avid fans of the comic strips as children, and their teaming up resulted in a push for the highest caliber animation. The use of motion-capture animation was employed in the production of “TinTin.” A hybrid of both live action and 3D animation, motion-capture records the movements of actors, resulting in animation data that is then mapped on a 3D scale. The result is visually enthralling and moves artfully like a painting on the screen. Jackson has used the same method in the past in movies such as “Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong” in order to animate specific characters. The employment of motion-capture in the framework of an animated film provides a greater sense of depth and opens up different possibilities for the detail in which a character can be brought to life. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times states that he was previously skeptical about the use of motion-capture, thinking that it would deprive the comic of its original sense of life. However, Ebert mentions being “pleasantly surprised” within the first few minutes as the ambitious approach “made the characters more believable.” I was also pleasantly surprised with the result of the animation method. The finesse and artistry with which the movie was crafted made it much more enjoyable to watch. I found myself in awe of the extreme range of detail as the animation brought to life not only vast landscapes, but also the way each hair follicle on a character’s head moved with the wind.
The film’s screenplay was written by Steven Moffat (“Doctor Who”) and Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”). I originally expected the screenplay to steal the show since it was once words on the simple newspaper comics that transported readers into the story; yet I found that the film’s sense of adventure was more captured by the animation rather than the screenplay itself. The artistic technicality of the film lent itself as a crutch at times when the narrative was lacking. The essence of the characters was captured more through the filmic imagination in which they were crafted rather than the dialogue they engaged in. Perhaps this is a consequence of the technological age that we live in. The fact that the appeal to children was derived more through visual stimulation rather than a written sense of story says something about how entertainment has evolved.
Despite the spirit that the screenplay lacked, the movie still retained a certain “Spielbergian” sense of adventure that is hard to duplicate. With shipwrecks, pirates and intricate chase scenes, there are many elements that dazzle the eye and establish the movie as a cinematic delight. However, despite the artistry, the absence of a captivating screenplay prevents the film from becoming a classic that will last for generations.