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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Latest from the Master

We are very blessed this holiday season.  We are not getting one, but two new movies from the guy who is generally considered to be the greatest living director today, Steven Spielberg!

First up, the one that's been bigger on my radar, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn.  As the legend goes, Spielberg became a fan of the legendary comic strip back in 1981, when a European film critic called Raiders of the Lost Ark "the greatest Tintin movie ever made."  Spielberg sought out the comic, instantly became a fan, contacted Herge, and acquired the movies rights.  Spielberg has then been trying for the past 30 years to try to get a Tintin movie off the ground.

A few years back, Spielberg took a "now or never" approach to it.  He contacted Weta Digital about doing a CGI Snowy (Tintin's faithful dog and sidekick).  Peter Jackson, who brought us The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the owner of Weta, and a huge Tintin fan himself, immediately called Spielberg and convinced him to do the whole film with performance capture.  Because, you know, a few years ago, before Mars Needs Moms tanked at the box office, we were all told that performance capture was going to be the future of filmmaking.

So, Spielberg and Jackson joined forces to finally bring Tintin to the big screen.  Spielberg is directing and Jackson is producing.  They will switch roles should this be successful enough for a sequel.  For the script, they drafted a trio of phenomenal Brits:  Steven Moffat, the current showrunner on Doctor Who, Edgar Wright, director of the much-beloved (be geeks) Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Joe Cornish, director of the critically acclaimed Attack the Block.  The story is an amalgam of three classic Tintin storylines:  The Secret of the Unicorn, the Crab With the Golden Claws, and Red Rackham's Treasure.

For our cast, Jamie Bell, still best remembered as Billy Elliot, is Tintin, Andy Serkis, best remembered as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is Tintin's longtime friend and sidekick, the salty sea Captain Haddock, Edgar Wright film regulars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the identical detectives Thomson and Thompson, and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, is the villainous pirate Red Rackham. 

It had its first press screening in Tintin's homeland of Belgium a couple of weeks ago and has been getting really good reviews.  It comes out in the UK at the end of the month, and it hits North American theatres on December 21.

But wait!  There's more!  Turns out Spielberg had another movie on the go that was under my radar.  While waiting for the animation to be finished on Tintin, Spielberg went and made another movie, War Horse.  

Based on the classic children's novel of the same name, War Horse follows the adventures of Joey, a horse who is sold to the army and made to serve in the cavalry during World War I.  Albert Narracot, Joey's young owner, can't bear to be separated from his beloved horse, so he lies about his age, joins the army, and the two are soon on a quest to be reunited with each other in the trenches of World War I.

The book was turned into a critically acclaimed play a couple of years ago.  Spielberg saw the play, instantly fell in love with the story, and set out to bring the tale to the big screen.

As I said, this one was below my radar, but when I saw the trailer, I knew it was classic Spielberg, from the lavishly filmed sunsets to the John Williams score.  War Horse hits theatres on Christmas Day. 

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