Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tintin: The Adventures of Steven Spielberg

Copyright: www.us.movie.tintin.com
“Kids, no matter what your age, you’re kids, and you’ll be kids the rest of your lives. I’ve been a kid all my life,” Steven Spielberg, apparently, shouted to thousands of people at the Comic-Con International Convention held in San Diego last month. You can imagine the effect he must have had on his audience, a caboodle of comic-book, graphic-novel and animated-movie fans from all over the world. I wasn't there but I read about it in the papers and on the internet and knew what he was screaming about.

Hollywood’s master craftsman had every reason to be excited: after all, he is releasing The Adventures of Tintin, the part-animated 3D motion capture film, on December 23. Not everyone gets a chance to make and release a film based on a universally popular and monumental character like Tintin; that too on a grand scale as you will see this year-end.

When was the last time you remember a film, based on a comic-book hero, create anticipatory anxiety among superhero fans? In my opinion Tintin and Asterix are superheroes too.

Let’s see: Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan stirred us up with Batman while Sam Raimi had us rooting for the first Spider-Man movie ever to be made (thumbs-up to Val Kilmer, thumbs-down to Tobey Maguire). Between the caped crusader and the web crawler, or since 2000, we have had the less hyped-up Hulk, Daredevil, Catwoman, Fantastic Four, Superman (Returns), Iron Man and Thor. We liked them because we love our comics and because we are faithful to our comic-book heroes. Mentalpiece icons…

I will not comment on Captain America because I have not seen the film, as I write this piece, and also because the reception to Steve Roger's alter ego has been rather lukewarm in India. 

The closest I can remember a superhero film creating a mild frenzy was in 1978 when Richard Donner ‘shocked and awed’ us with Superman (Did you see that? He actually made Superman fly!). Remember: this was long before the technology-digital-marketing revolution gave us a new purpose in life. Thirty-three years on, Christopher Reeve’s reign as Kal-El, Clark Kent and Superman remains unchallenged.

Yet, none of these films, with the exception of Batman and Spider-Man to an extent, has created the kind of media and marketing hoopla that is building up around Tintin; at least not several months prior to the launch of the film.

I reckon Steven Spielberg is going to rake it in with his maiden adventure of the young Belgian reporter and I don’t think the film will be panned by fans and critics as is anticipated. Netizens are suggesting that Spielberg would have done better with Asterix which I desperately hope will be his next directorial venture. Gérard Depardieu took the fun out of the boar-gorging, Roman-bashing, menhir-delivering Obélix in the Asterix movies.

For now, Spielberg promises to delight us with his celluloid adaptation of Tintin. I, for one, am waiting to be surprised. What better way for a kid to ring in the new year…

Where is Prof. Calculus?
The Adventures of Tintin is the story of the secret of the unicorn where Tintin and Capt. Haddock go off on a treasure hunt to locate a sunken ship captained by Haddock’s bearded and sword-wielding ancestor Red Rackham. So it’s a combination of two Tintin adventures, The Secret of the Unicorn and its sequel Red Rackham’s Treasure which owes its humour element to the antics of Prof. Cuthbert Calculus. Unfortunately, his character appears to be missing in the Steven Spielberg offering.

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