Empire has the first look at the upcoming Steven Spielberg-directed, Peter Jackson-produced 'The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.'
If you see the name "Tintin" and go Who?, don't worry, you're probably just an American. The original comic strip by Belgian artist Hergé, about a young globetrotting investigative reporter, his dog Snowy and his gallery of strange allies and enemies, remains iconic the world over, particularly in its native Europe. In fact, appropriate kudos should be handed out straight away to Spielberg and Jackson for attaching themselves to an interesting property that may prove a hard sell to North American audiences.
With kudos dispersed, let's take a gander at these new, fancy-schmancy images and pass immediate judgment on a project that is still a year away from release!
Empire has made two images immediately available, so you're going to have to pick up the magazine itself to check out the rest (and do yourself a favor and head over to Empire's site to check out larger versions of these pics and a special, Weta-designed magazine cover). The first, as seen above, depicts Tintin (Jamie Bell), Captain Haddock (Gollum himself, Andy Serkis) and Snowy the dog in a bit of an aquatic predicament. The second, as seen below, gives us a good look at Captain Haddock's mug.
And now, the reason for the motion capture animation route becomes pretty clear. Says Mr. Jackson:
"With live action you're going to have actors pretending to be Captain Haddock and Tintin...You'd be casting people to look like them. It's not really going to feel like the Tintin Hergé drew. It's going to be somewhat different. With CGI we can bring Hergé's world to life, keep the stylised caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé's artwork, but make it photo-real."
Motion capture technology has proven itself reliably hit-and-miss over the years, providing the detailed, gorgeous characters in James Cameron's 'Avatar' but also the creepy, uncanny valley inhabiting monstrosities of 'The Polar Express' and 'A Christmas Carol.' Perhaps by going completely stylized (and with two old pros at the helm), 'The Adventures of Tintin' can avoid dead-eyed creepiness by embracing the art style of its source material.
Although the film doesn't hit American theaters until December 2011 (October for Europe), expect to be seeing a lot of 'Tintin' in the next year. The studio is going to need to sell American audiences on this character, not to mention the palpable excitement that will be expected from international audiences. At least someone seems confident: Jackson himself is already prepping the sequel.