Francis Ford Coppola won't be the only filmmaking legend in attendance at next week's 2011 Comic-Con festival in San Diego. Steven Spielberg will be present as well, promoting his and producer Peter Jackson's new globe-trotting adventure pic, The Adventures of Tintin (a.k.a. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn).
This will mark Spielberg's first live appearance at Comic-Con, where the director responsible for establishing the modern summer blockbuster template will receive the Inkpot Award, a prestigious honor granted to significant artists who specialize in either comic book or genre entertainment (past recipients include individuals like Jack Kirby, Ray Bradbury, and Hayao Miyazaki).
Adventures of Tintin presents an interesting situation, seeing how the original Tintin comic strip is quite famous overseas and among comic aficionados, but is less of an established property in the U.S. So although the film is based on very popular source material (and features several famous names working behind the scenes), it is arguably not the surefire hit that Spielberg's last film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in Adventure of Tintin's path to success right now is Spielberg's decision to use motion-capture technology to bring original Tintin creator Hergé's characters to life. The use of said tech to realize human characters still has somewhat of a stigma, due to the generally poorly-received results of previous mo-cap pics directed or produced by Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express, Mars Needs Moms, etc.).
Jackson and Spielberg have plans (or, rather, hope) to eventually produce a trilogy of Tintin movies, which makes it all the more important for the first film to be a hit in theaters. Hence why Spielberg is biting the bullet and popping up at Comic-Con, to help win over those who do not yet worship the shrine of the hand-drawn, intrepid journalist.
While the international Tintin trailer painted the film as potentially being another thrilling blockbuster adventure from Spielberg, the mo-cap animation was (for some people) kind of a distraction. On the other hand, as was pointed out by a number of Screen Rant readers, the exaggerated movements and action of the film's characters gave the Adventures of Tintin footage more of a fittingly cartoonish look. Spielberg has even spoken on that point before, admitting the idea behind his use of the mo-cap tech was to "keep everything looking like [Tintin creator] Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real."
However, as was the case with Zemeckis' mo-cap movies, the characters in Adventures of Tintin still seem a bit stiff and uncomfortable, with regards to their facial mannerisms and expressions. While the films boasts a great cast (which includes Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Toby Jones), all of said actors will have their true faces hidden beneath a layer of CGI, so to speak. Considering how facially expressive people like Pegg and Frost in particular are, it's only more of a disappointment that the Tintin mo-cap looks to hinder, rather than enhance, that quality.
Of course, part of the idea behind Spielberg being at Comic-Con is to talk up the use of mo-cap in Tintin and dismiss suggestions that it'll put a damper on what otherwise looks like a fun and exciting tale from the director. So Con attendees should definitely aim to go and listen to what he's got to say.
Hero Complex's Geoff Bucher will be the moderator for the Tintin panel at the 2011 Comic-Con. The event will be held in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center at 11 a.m. on July 22nd.
Be sure to bookmark our Official Comic-Con Coverage Page for a report on the event.
The Adventures of Tintin will arrive in 2D and 3D theaters around the U.S. on December 23rd, 2011.