The Adventures of Tintin is the perfect Spielberg primer for families. It has all the wonder, mystery and fun one expects from The Beard, but is safe for families who may be worried about showing them odd looking E.T.s, violent fisticuffs in the 1930s, or menacing sharks.
It’s Spielberg’s first animated film, though he has served as exec on a number of them, and the first film he’s done in CG.
He brings along Peter Jackson, Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat, Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and of course John Williams.
Based on the French comic series by, Hergé, who gets a nice nod in the opening titles as Tintin’s other adventures are hinted at, as well as the first sequence which features a familiar artist.
The tale follows the boy reporter and his trusty dog Snowy as they seek the mystery of the Unicorn, a three master lost at sea centuries ago.
He’s joined on his quest by the captain’s lone descendant, the drunken Archibald Haddock, played by CG’s Lon Chaney – Andy Serkis as well as two police officers from Interpol, Thompson and Thomson (Pegg & Frost). They are menaced by Daniel Craig in a wonderful turn as a villain.
The story moves quickly, the locations are exotic, and the action sequences are big, bold and fun, everything you would expect. One sequence stands out in that it is composed of one single long shot, once it gets rolling. It’s a giant chase sequence that allows Spielberg to stay with the action without cutting away, awesome.
The other sequence that was a highlight was the flashback battle aboard the Unicorn, as they light and extinguish a line of gun powder set to blow the ship.
Snowy, as expected, is adorable, and as devoted and smart a dog as you want as a sidekick.
It’s a perfect outing for the family, and I loved Williams’ jazzy title music before launching us into all his symphonic glory with a sweeping adventurous score.
Then I settled in for War Horse… Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, this is Spielberg magic, having read the novel I knew exactly what I was getting when I went into this film and it did not disappoint.
Set at the beginning of the first world war, the story follows a spirited horse named Joey by the lad, Albert, who raised him. Sold into service to the British Army, Joey serves as the mount of one Captain Nichols.
But war is cruel, and Joey soon ends up behind enemy lines where he is used to haul the wounded by the German army, before escaping to the French countryside and taken in by Emilie and her grandfather.
In this way we see all aspects of the war, the bad and the good which is rare and heart touching when it comes.
The sequence I most looked forward to was the one set in No Man’s Land, beginning with Joey’s desperate run from a tank to running the lines until he becomes trapped, tangled and finally held by barbed wire placements and finally when men from both sides arrive to cut the wounded horse free.
Both films are faithful to the spirit of the source material, if differing on certain bits, but as both media differ from one another, it’s not a surprise. As I said though the spirit of the source material is very prevalent in both.
If Tintin is youthful, exuberant Spielberg, fun, adventurous and happy endings, then War Horse is a grown up Spielberg, knowing that life is full of grey and that there are good people on both sides of the battle.
I, myself am just delighted that Spielberg has two movies in the theater at once!