I love the Tintin comic books. They relaxed me as a uni student suffering from insomnia and now I read them with my 7yr old son. When I first heard of Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg's plans to bring Tintin to the screen in 3D, I was wary. Earlier screen versions were disappointing and I really, really don't like the current 3D technology.
The movie had to work extra hard to earn my respect. As if Spielberg knew, the first character appearing is Hergé, Tintin's creator in animated form. The animation art is glorious and the storytelling fine, fast and fun. The story doesn't just work, as an adaptive blend of no less than three comic book titles, it shows great storytelling knack.
ANIMATION MORE 'REAL' THAN ACTORS
Most of the action was captured with live actors at Peter Jackson's Weta production facilities in New Zealand, an awesome filmmaking hub I had the privilege of visiting a few years ago. But one of the characters could not possibly be directed in the same way as the others: Snowy. So Snowy's action was keyframe-animated, from the ground up.
The result is astonishing.
Strangely, I find Snowy's actions and movements more realistic than the humans'. Perhaps we have a greater tolerance level for inaccuracies with animals and don't question their idiosyncrasies as much as we do our peers'? In any case, I completely adore what the filmmakers did with Snowy. Just his eyes could have been a notch brighter.
THE ADVENTURES OF SNOWY
My favourite moment is not a major dramatic scene. It is not a clever story point or a fabulous character scene. The moment I cherish the most is the first 'threshold sequence' at the end of Act One. In this scene Snowy chases the bandits who have kidnapped Tintin. I laughed out loud, it's so entertaining and endearing. Snowy runs, jumps, glides, hangs, falls, crawls and ultimately fights an army of udders before arriving at the docks where he jumps on board the ship the Karaboudjan. Okay, perhaps I'm a kid and easily pleased - but check it out for yourself.
This sequence marks the end of the first act because Tintin leaves his 'Ordinary World' and now has two clear goals: to escape from the boat and to solve the mystery of the Unicorn. These scenes of travel at the act breaks usually mark a significant shift in the Hero's understanding of the world and their goal(s). The Adventures of Tintin – like Raiders of The Lost Ark, which the Tintin comics had been compared to ever since its release in 1981 – abounds with threshold scenes, not only at the act breaks but at the climax of pretty much every sequence.
It is interesting that we witness not Tintin's but Snowy's threshold travel. Tintin may be the story's protagonist, yet later we will learn that the real transformational Hero in the story is in fact the recovering drunk Captain Haddock.
GENIUS IN THE DETAIL
At only about a hundred seconds, the sequence is relatively short and there really is only one action for Snowy: to follow and re-join Tintin. But it is a delightful sequence, full of amazing detail and it preludes the abundance of travel and chase sequences at all sorts of exotic locations later in the film. Enjoy!