Today arrives the first full-length trailer for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s lovingly motion-captured adaptation of a beloved Belgian comic. Our reaction? Creepy! (The reaction in Belgium? However you say “creepy” in French and/or Flemish!) For some bullheaded reason, Spielberg and Jackson have doubled-down on the Uncanny Valley-residing mo-cap technology that has transformed true believer Robert Zemeckis from an Oscar-winning auteur to a studio-killing crank. Sure, the visuals are superficially impressive, rich with classic Spielbergian action, and the cast impresses: Jamie Bell’s voice strikes the right note of boyish curiosity as Tintin, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bumble serviceably as doltish duo Thomson and Thompson, and green-screen Hall of Famer Andy Serkis supplies a nicely sozzled Captain Haddock. But, mijn god, the look of this thing!
Imagine a world with the texture and shine of a Lady Gaga costume, a quasi-realistic universe in which we’re to accept that a successful international reporter takes his style pointers from Ellen DeGeneres and his advice from an alcoholic dog. The original Tintin books were delightfully strange, based on clean, 2-D images, a zippy atmosphere of global intrigue and creator Hergé’s own crisp comic timing. Translated into 21st century terms this means a lot of shouting and shooting and, in the process, it strands us in a bizarre, computer-generated middle-ground. The Adventures of Tintin looks too serious to be a cartoon (Snowy, the dog, is frustratingly mute) but too cartoony to be taken seriously. Who could this movie possibly be for?
Wait a moment — deeply divided and yet somehow a money-rich global priority? You know what that reminds us of? Belgium! Clearly, Spielberg and Jackson have targeted Tintin’s home country as the focus demo for their $135 million film. Belgium, after all, has given us so much: french fries, Jean-Claude Van Damme, $5 million in box-office receipts for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The least our richest, most bearded filmmakers can do is give something back. So, graag gedaan, Northern Belgium! (And a hearty de rien, to you, Southern Belgium!) Now are any of you interested in some cut-rate Polar Express DVDs?