I must admit that I had read too many negative reviews about 3D cinema's second coming, to risk the disappointment of ruining my night at the movies. I now bitterly regret doubting James Cameron by seeing Avatar on the small screen, but I had to break this cycle of negativity sooner or later, and figured the dream team of Spielberg, Jackson and Hergé would be a smart bet. After all, if these masters of cinematography and story telling could not deliver - then no one could do.
So on Sunday evening I went to the Swiss Cottage IMAX and took my seat with keen anticipation. I had been following the build up to the movie release closely and had viewed the various teaser clips with considerable interest. Including the fascinating videos that surfaced showing the inner workings of Weta, with the mocap king Serkis working his magic under Spielberg's masterful direction.
It was after a French journalist compared The Raiders of The Lost Ark to Tintin, that Spielberg first became acquainted with Hergé's stories, so it is not surprising that similarities have been drawn between the films. Which in my opinion is no bad thing; for Hergé's globe-trotting epic adventure stories are brilliantly told by Spielberg's roller coaster narrative.
The Tintin universe Weta have created is staggeringly beautiful, incredibly detailed and finessed - yet somehow retains the simple, elegant and clean outlines of the original drawings. After wondering at Weta's wizardry on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I knew that the animation of the characters would be excellent, and I was not dissapointed. Each opening key frame was posed like a Hergé drawing cell, which then danced into life as the animation played.
Some of my colleagues are not convinced about 3D for live action films (that will be my next test) but for 3D animation it is a breath taking technical development. For the modellers and animators who spend months building 3D models and tracking cameras through virtual worlds, for then everything just to be flattened onto a 2D display screen must be disheartening. Now they can show their work in a format that truly embraces their expertise and enhances their creativity, which must be a tremendous thrill for them as it is indeed for the viewer.
There were not for-the-sake-of-it-3D gratuitous shots, of objects flying into the audience trying to make the viewer jump. Rather the third dimension is used subtly to tell the story, as with the transitions between past and present as Captain Haddock recounted the story of his ancestors, poking the telescope diagonally right through the shot as we swapped between past and present.
The screenplay by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish is witty and sharp but without trying to be too smart, and they should also be commended for retaining the spirit of the original story. The negative reviews that complain about Tintin being one dimensional and having "cold, dead eyes", do not simply understand the original story. It is a children's tale from a different era. Tintin is a young sleuth of a journalist adventurously, investigating stories and uncovering crimes, not a tabloid hack - hacking into phones for sex and drugs stories, for goodness sake!
Well done to Paramount and Columbia Pictures for making the first in one of many, I hope, productions of Tintin. Bravo Spielberg and Jackson - Hergé would be proud of your efforts. This film lover has woken up to a new dawn of cinema, and I thank them for it.