Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN Movie Review: He Said/She Said

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat with Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish
Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Synopsis: A young journalist and his perfect dog stumble on a mystery after they buy a model ship of questionable origins. 


Jonesy: TIN TIN was much better than I was expecting. I really enjoyed it, and I’m so happy that filmmakers are starting making smart family movies, and families are being subjected cheesy Alvin-and-The Chipmunks nonsense.

Javi: I actually really loved also. I didn’t have any expectations myself, but it was just a really great movie. My big exposure to the series was I would read about Tin Tin and Asterix during French class because apparently there are no other forms of media in France just those two during the last 50 years. This movie felt like it connected to the fun and adventurous side of Spielberg. TIN TIN will be the movie my family and I go see on Christmas.

Jonesy: It’s nice to see something from a director that we haven’t seen before. And it reminds me how Scorsese stepped away from his typical gangster-ish type movies to make HUGO.

Javi: You remember how The Golden Briefcase did an episode just centered on Amblin Entertainment movies because of the release of SUPER 8? It almost feels like this movie should have been the one that the episode was about.  It has that Amblin movie feel more than SUPER 8.


Jonesy: I enjoyed the story; it was a fun mystery that reminded me of the better parts of NATIONAL TREASURE. Just the whole aspect of using clues to get to the next place to figure out the mystery was such fun.

Javi: The story itself was good because of its pace and action. However, even though I’m not trying to sound too negative, but there was never any tension for me. I never once felt that there was a big threat or that the good guys would not win. But at the point and time, I didn’t care. I was happy to see Snowy (the dog) do the cool Snowy thing, and Tin Tin and Captain Haddock bantering together. Yes, there was a mystery to solve, but the interactions and chemistry between the characters was what made the movie awesome for me.

Jonesy: You didn’t think there was tension?

Javi: Not at all. There was tension during a specific action scene, but never for the overall failure or success of their mission.

Jonesy: It was just a “race against time” sort of tension. I wonder if there wasn’t any tension for you because you knew that this was a kid’s movie, and add in the fact that it’s animated?

Javi: No because you can feel tension in kid’s movies. But for example, there was a crash where the main characters should, for all senses and purposes, be pretty roughed up but they come out almost completely unharmed. However, at that point of watching the movie, you’re so engrossed that you don’t care.

Jonesy: Going off of that, the movie actually has believability to it that it adheres to. And even though I know it’s animated so some standard movie “rules” don’t apply, there were some things that were too unbelievable and felt cheap.

Javi: Not for me because of the way that everything was animated. I knew that the characters were cartoons and with the cartoony look, it almost felt like a sort of “hyper reality” where there were roots in the real world with nutty stuffy still being able to occur. I never found the crazy stuff to take me out of the movie.

Jonesy Even when Haddock burps?

Javi: See, I think that the burping shows the best of both worlds, and it’s hilarious. It’s like SCOTT PILGRIM where the characters are humans, but they can do some crazy stuff.

Jonesy I think the movie is far above that sort of humor.  There was no instance of the burping being established as anything more than a cheap plot point. I want to stop seeing bodily function comedy from appearing in movies anymore. It’s not funny, and it’s just lazy.

Javi: I will admit that it does feel sort of like a bad excuse to bail our heroes out of trouble. But it didn’t bother me nearly as much. If anything, it sort of reminds me of something I really loved about the movie: the physical humor. Just seeing the characters interact with their environment like when the cops, Thompson and Thomson, stumble and fall while chasing a bad guy.

Jonesy: That specific scene felt like homage to the Keystone Cops.

Javi: I just loved the way they take old gags we’re use to seeing in animation, like when a character falls down, and they feel dizzy, and there just happens to be a few yellow canaries flying around him. I couldn’t stop laughing. I was probably laughing disproportionately.

Jonesy: See, that’s a smart joke because it works for kids and then adults get the reference to older Looney Tunes type cartoons.

Javi: Then talking about the dialogue, I could tell that it was just very clever and it comes across well. I could really see the hand of Moffat, Wright and Cornish here, and it just made it that much more enjoyable because the movie not only had action but also the witty stuff. And it’s interesting because you don’t really know too much about the characters. You know from the beginning that Tin Tin is famous; he has trophies; and he is a journalist. But what about the other IMPORTANT questions? Like what sort of hippy parents call their child Tin Tin?

Jonesy: And this movie is not an origins story. It’s not like he’s just a young journalist with his first big story. It’s almost like we’re thrown in the middle of the action. And I think that’s just interesting because it doesn’t allow us to dumb down the story to the average American crowd.  


Javi: The visuals were, in a lot of ways, the highlight for me. How do you feel about the 3D?

Jonesy: I’m glad TIN TIN and HUGO is around to show us how to do 3D properly. HUGO is here to show us how to properly use 3D in a live action movie, and TIN TIN is here to show us how a good animated movie. There was just such a good use of depth, and it was used to showcase the intricacies of the locations they visited.

Javi: I think that the movie not only sets a great standard for 3D, but it also shows you more creative ways of actually using the 3D to show different types of depth. For example, there is a sequence with a giant bubble of alcohol floating in the air, and you see Snowy behind it, and I believe that type of distorted, water, depth effect has not been done before to this caliber in 3D. I almost feel like that’s why James Cameron wants to film the next AVATAR sequel in an underwater setting. Anyway, as for the Motion Capture, the characters looked way better than the first trailer made them out to be. I’m not sure what happened between the trailer and now, but the fact is that there is no creepy portion of the Uncanny Valley showing up in this movie. They have expressions with their eyes. The animals look life-like, and if Snowy weren’t such a cool and perfect dog, I would believe that he was real. When you get to the humans you have a cartoony aspect of them like noses and haircuts, but they mix it up properly with the “real life” aspect of them. The characters don’t look like some creepy Robert Zemeckis movie were they would frighten children with the dead eyes.

Jonesy: I agree, it’s the perfect mix of the cartoony look and the creepy Zemeckis look. There were a few times that the camera would zoom over the crowds and eventually focus on Tin Tin and the Captain, and I swore the background characters were real people. All of the scenery and the sets looked flawless, and everything that they did in the water looked amazing.

Javi: The fire effects looked so great too. Apparently, according to the LORD OF THE RINGS special features, fire is one of the hardest things to animate with computers, and they really seemed to have gone above and beyond in terms of making it look real.  Looking at Tin Tin, you realize that he looks like a young Jude Law, and looking at Sakharine, he looks like Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa

Jonesy: He looks like Kevin Kline to me.

Javi: No he doesn’t, and even the goons look really cool.

Jonesy: I want to mention the voice acting, specifically Daniel Craig as Sakharine. I wouldn’t have thought that it was him if I had not seen him name in the credits.

Javi: I’m not sure if I’m dumb or what, but I couldn’t tell apart Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s voices as Thompson and Thomson. I could recognize the voices every once in a while, but it wasn’t anything apparent. I really liked that it wasn’t just some an actor in a Disney movie “Oh, look at me, I’m famous and I’m going to voice a character just by talking and being my famous self!” The actors actually did some acting.

Jonesy: They actually put infliction and character in their voice. That’s why I was so impressed with everyone. Jamie Bell is more difficult because he’s the straight lace character as Tin Tin. He definitely could have been annoying, but instead he was able to bring certain sense of wonder and excitement.

Javi: Also, a nice shout out to the awesome title sequence. And I was just thinking about something that you said about the fact that no one knows Tin Tin in America, and it made me happy to see the filmmakers actually put Easter eggs in the movie for people who know the material. The entire title sequence is chock full of iconic imagery, and even the first scene where the guy paints Tin Tin in the style of the comics is brilliant.

Jonesy: You know, there were so many times in the audience where you would hear scattered laughter by the adults. You could tell they recognized a reference because in the context of the story during those particular moments, what was going on wasn’t particularly funny.

Javi: Something to content with a bit; at the beginning of the story, Captain Haddock is starting off as a drunk. And for my own liking, it almost felt like they were glossing quite a bit over a really touchy subject. Not enough to have the AA bitch and moan, but there were some parts where the dismissal of his problem was a bit too light. It feels like some characters just enabled his problem, and then when we don’t need the Captain drunk, we just berated him. That was the only part that really bothered me a bit.

Jonesy: There’s a sequence, and part of it is shown in the trailer, that is all in one shot, and I cannot fathom how they even storyboarded that. The logistics of the choreography coupled with that the sequence actually made coherent sense should be commended. There are points where people that disappear for ten seconds and then they come back literally “down the road”, yet it all makes sense. But overall, I’m just glad to see a smart family movie. Between this, WAR HORSE, and HUGO there’s great choices for the holidays. I adored this movie.

Javi: For me, I loved the world, the characters, and the sense of adventure that came across everybody’s performance. It’s the better Spielberg movie coming out this season, in my opinion, and one of my favorites of the year. 

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