Tintin: My Verdict

The Adventures of Tintin – Review – 4 Stars

By Kyle St John Peters

Legend has it, that before Herge (creator of Tintin) died in 1983, he gave Spielberg his blessing as the only filmmaker he trusted to bring Tintin to life. Since that day, Spielberg’s CV has grown to only confirm this thought, with his depiction of Tintin combining elements from several of his past efforts.

He sets the scene with a light, playful tone of fun adventure in a breezy title sequence, very reminiscent of Catch Me if You Can. After this, the film can very much draw comparisons to Spielberg’s own masterpiece Raiders of the Lost Ark – a light adventure romp – very self referential, though slightly less weighty (Raider’s had the Nazis!)

It’s the perfect pairing in fact – Tintin and Indiana Jones are cut out of the same mould – Saturday afternoon serials. Tintin himself is essentially a young Indiana Jones that is not played by Sean Patrick Flannery.

Much like Raiders, Tintin features some gloriously realised set pieces in true cliff hanger style, and in many ways this is Spielberg at his finest – watch out for his own Jaws reference.

The animation is amazing, the texturing, the lighting and mood. The Berg has captured Herge’s tone and pallete, just like the comics and show. The characters too, physically are well rendered and capture the Herge spirit. It’s amazing to see how Weta, in a few short years, has become the top VFX house in the world, arguably topping the long time leader ILM.

This is Spielberg’s first animation, and he has been unleashed on a completely new plain, with a brand new paint box, allowing him to do some audacious shots, ridiculous moments and amazing transitions that he could never do with live action. He has utilized motion capture and animation to it’s fullest potential thus far.

Jackson and Spielberg as Thompson and Thompson

Performance and character wise, Tintin himself is a bit of a blank page. This is true to the books in the sense that you can sort of project your own personality onto him and easily put yourself in the lead role. It is always a bit of a shame though, when your title and lead character is outshone by his supporting cast. One critic described Tintin as a tour guide to the next plot point and I heartelly agree. There is something extremely lacking here.

Thompson and Thompson provide some hit and miss comedy, and Snowy, the ever loyal dog is going to be a firm favourite, but everyone pales in comparisson however to Captain Haddock portrayed by the King of Mocap himself, Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong, Caesar). Once he enters, the film really kicks into high gear, much like the entry of Sean Connery’s Jones Snr in the Last Crusade. He is the most entertaining, well rounded character in the film by a long shot.

The light sense of adventure could have been aided by a few slightly more perilous , threatening situations. You never really feel like Tintin won’t escape from any situation. My one major criticism, which may change on repeat viewings, is that the stakes never felt that high. Without spoilers, I just felt that come the end of the film… was it really worth that much hype? I’m referring to both the adventure in the film and the film itself. I think it needed a bigger reveal, something more dramatic, and I also wanted to leave the cinema with a bigger sense of excitement and participation. After waiting three years for the new Spielberg film, I didn’t quite feel like I had really seen it.

This may only be due to the fact that this is animation, and the connection to the characters and excitement of reality cannot be achieved. A live action Tintin would have it’s benefits, but this medium is perfect for capturing the real essence of the style…

Real Steel Review

Real Steel – Review – 3 Stars

By David Atherstone

In the future, where robot boxing has become a massive sport, a down on his luck fight promoter finds a robot he thinks will take him to the top and finds a son who wants to be part of his life.

Real Steel is loosely based on the classic kids game Rock em, Shock em Robots . This film runs along the lines of the well known underdog story, but despite this common theme it manages to pull you into its world, and will have you rooting for the characters and jumping out of your seat in excitement.

The story is fairly simple but entertaining none the less, and the acting is great, especially from the young Dakota Goyo, who comes close to outshining his co-star Hugh Jackman. There is also the character of ATOM, who, although being a CGI robot, causes you to start seeing him as so much more than that.

This film leaves everything “in the ring” as it were. It gives you everything you could want from it and has you walking away completely satisfied. If you are looking for a thought provoking, Oscar worthy movie, then this is not for you. However, if you want to be thoroughly entertained for and hour and half, then this movie will do exactly that. It’s film that can be enjoyed by almost anyone.

Breaking BAD

Breaking Dawn Part 1 – Review – 1/2 a Star

By David Atherstone

Breaking Dawn is the fourth installment in the Twilight franchise. Edward and Bella get married and set of on their honeymoon, in which half way through Bella realizes she is pregnant. They head home to the help of the Cullen clan, but also to the threat of the wolf pack.

This whole movie feels like it should be the first act to the actual final movie. Keeping it as one instead of splitting it into two would have been the way forward in my opinion. There were so many scenes in the film that seemed like they were there as time fillers, scenes that were boring and unnecessary. This film never even comes close to engaging the audience or even making them sympathize with the characters.

The acting is not as bad as it has been in the past, but still remains fairly dull, and the one exciting scene in the film, lasting 10 seconds, didn’t even come out of the book, which clearly shows how this film struggles to draw the audience’s attention.

This is a film purely for the Twihards. Only the true fans of the series will be entertained by this film, but beyond that it is not even worth the time taken to watch it.

 

Brad Pitt on the Money

Moneyball – Review – 4 Stars

By Kyle St John Peters

WARNING! This is not your typical sports movie. Although the film starts off with an underdog coach and an underdog team, it veers off from the traditional route these types of films usually take. Don’t expect the cliched scenes you’ve lived with for years (passionate team talk 3/4 of the way through when the chips are down; the team scoring the winning point with only seconds left on the clock… in slomo).

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it doesn’t lack these cliches, so much as hide them or turn them on their head. Moneyball is all about the mechanics behind the sport of baseball rather than the sport itself. It’s a sport’s movie without much actual sport. This may frustrate some, but for everyone else who could do with something different, it’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Pitt is truly great, giving us an honest, heartfelt performance of a regular guy who pushes himself to make a difference and is never satisfied with his work, even when he changed the entire nature of game. Jonah Hill is controlled and understated, just as he needs to be in this type of role and Philip Seymour Hoffman is… well, as great you expect him to be.

If I have one criticism against the film, it’s that Moneyball could have done with a slight trim. Although it holds your attention, the third act seems to drag a little and a small nip/tuck here and there could have helped it out, but that’s just me being picky.

There’s actually so many good things one could say about this movie, but I think the best thing about it, is the fact that it’s different. I suppose we always think that it’s the mad rush of the game, or the heart in your mouth feeling that connects us to sports movies, but in actual fact, like many great stories, it’s the connection of simply following the story of one ordinary man, fighting against the odds and the social norms to make a difference in the world.