cave canem

Cave Canem- Beware the Dog

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adaptation...Success? The Adventures of Tintin Part II

Woo, went away for a week and didn't have internet. Anyway, here is the long-awaited (by nobody) follow-up to the first part of my discussion of why I think the film The Adventures of Tintin works as an adaptation of the comics.

In brief, I would describe the appeal of the Tintin comics as being fun adventure stories, which, despite their violence, manage to convey a sense of idealism and innocence. They're not too serious, but they're exciting and action-packed.

The movie was that. Combining the plots from a few of the comics, mostly The Secret of the Unicorn and The Crab with the Golden Claws, it was a brilliant representation of the essence of the comics. The characters were played perfectly; Tintin, the young, fresh-faced and innocent do-good hero; Captain Haddock, the sad drunken mess who's occasionally able to pull himself together and be useful, and of course we all love him anyway because drunk people are funny; Thomson and Thompson, the determined idiots; seeing the movies was seeing all of these characters from my childhood get up and live. It was awesome. There were fangasms to be had by all.

I was worried about the CGI at first. I mean, it looked pretty weird when I first saw pictures of it. However, it ended up working pretty well. In fact, I think it's about as close as you could come to reconciling the cartoony and the realistic without some serious nightmare fuel occurring. It managed to somehow both look natural when paired with the realistic backdrop and also capture the distinctive art style of the comics.

The story was fast-paced and fun. It combined the plot of The Crab with the Golden Claws, where Tintin meets Captain Haddock and busts a ring of opium smugglers, with the plot of The Secret of the Unicorn, where Tintin and Captain Haddock find model ships and end up finding a map to the Captain's ancestor's treasure trove. I might nitpick **spoilers for book and comic** that the movie rather ruined the twist ending of the sequel to SoTU- in the comics, a whole book is devoted to finding the three ships and getting the map, and then there's another where they get a ship and sail out to the coordinates on the parchment. At the end, they go home and then realize that the treasure was hidden in Marlinspike Hall the entire time. In the movie, they skip the sea voyage. It's unfortunate, but at the same time I understand that the movie had to have a happy ending and they didn't really have time to add in a whole nother book's worth of stuff.

I have a few minor nitpicks of this sort that aren't really nitpicks because I can see why they happened. For example, I feel like something was lost without Snowy's snarking, but I'm eternally grateful that he didn't talk in the movie, because what works in a comic might not work in a film and Snowy talking would have been pretty stupid.

One thing I thought was a bit dumb, though, was some of Captain Haddock's characterization. I mean, he was still his fabulous drunken asshole of a self, but what I'm talking about was his whole 'last of the Haddocks' thing. It just seemed a tad forced. Dramatic dialog is hard to pull off without sounding dumb, I guess.

Great movie, though. You can tell that the people working on it knew their Tintin. There were so many references to the comics snuck in there, I'm not even sure that I got them all. Some were actually fairly subtle.

Best part of the movie by far? The absolutely glorious chase scene at the climax of the movie. It was just one long pan, no cuts, incorporating car chasing, a falcon, lots of mayhem and a rather obscure shoutout to one of the comics that I just barely managed to catch. (Seriously, that movie is just one big easter egg hunt for fans.)

So, enough with the fangirling. Basically, perfect tone, perfect look, perfect adaptation. FC out.

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