Monday, November 28, 2011

The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Herge's all time creation Detective/Journalist TinTin along with his faithful dog Snowy had wowed generation but can Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn have the same wow factor?....It definitely does.

Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship. Based on three of the earliest Tintin comic books: “The Secret of the Unicorn,” “Red Rackham’s Treasure,” and “The Crab with the Golden Claws.” The film is a joint effort between Spielberg and Jackson, with the former taking lead as director and the latter producing (roles which will supposedly be reversed for the sequel, should it come to pass). Jackson’s WETA workshop is also handling the visual effects, which involve live actors transformed into CGI cartoons via motion-capture performance.

The biggest question, however, is whether or not WETA can achieve the hard task of making humanoid CGI creations (even purposefully cartoonish ones) feel lively and real, instead of having the characters be stranded in that “valley of the uncanny,” in which the eye and mind struggle to accept that the CGI characters are actually believable humanoids. But it is pretty believable seeing as from my own experience, when I first saw its trailer I actually thought it was a live action not motion-captured animation at all. So WETA has definitely succeeded with the concept and not loose momentum (like Mars needs Moms).

Although only marginally popular in the U.S.A., Tintin to many readers worldwide (especially in Western Europe and the UK) what Batman and Spider-Man are to Americans: a comic book they discovered as kids, grew up with and continue to cherish. The brainchild of Belgian illustrator Georges Remi (aka Herge), the Tintin comics – originally published in French between 1930 and 1976 – have grown over the years into a multinational franchise that includes translations in dozens of languages, various animated films and TV series, two live-action movies, several theme stores, a museum and even a field of study known as “Tintinology.”
Tintin himself is far from your typical, butt-kicking crime fighter. If anything, his erudite approach to solving mysteries, along with a taste for escapades in the Middle East, Asia and Africa throughout the mid-20th century, make him a less brawny, more European counterpart to Indiana Jones, which is purportedly what first sparked Spielberg’s interest in bringing Tintin to the screen back in the early 1980s.

The script stays true to the spirit of the books and a hilarious Serkis as the drunken Captain Haddock, who at one point downs medicinal alcohol, makes for a fantastically unique hero in a family movie. The pace is well maintained and the story never seems to overstay its welcome, which is not the case with many recent blockbusters.John Williams’ score, which mixes moody 60s-style music with the composer’s more grandiose themes, accompanies events up through the rather ingenious finale (involving a massive duel where shipping cranes are transformed into sabers), before a cliffhanger sets up the next installment (to be directed by Jackson).

Now the mocap technique falls somewhere between live-action and animated moviemaking, the same can be said for the performances, which are altogether fluid yet sometimes give the impression of watching a very realistic video game with the sound turned up a few thousand notches. Serkis nonetheless manages to turn Haddock into what will surely be the trilogy’s most memorable personage, while Bell (Billy Elliot) makes Tintin about as interesting as he can be, which is to say sometimes less so than his dog. Thomson and Thompson, Edgar Wright regulars Nick Frostand Simon Pegg provide comic asides that will help adults stay in tune with material aimed at an audience younger than the teenage or twentysomething Tintin, even if this Belgian hero seems to be a model of PG undertakings.
Steven Spielberg’s direction is top-notch. He not just makes the film a thrilling ride but also infuses it with old-world charm and heartwarming emotions. Based on the series of books, the movie is full of clever moments, great action sequences, comedy and intrigue. The screenplay is such that the viewers’ interest is maintained throughout as it follows Tintin on his adventure. The characterisation of Captain Haddock, who goes from being a drunkard to reclaiming his courageous legacy, is brilliant. A couple of sequences involving the expert pickpocket, Silk, and the bumbling detective duo, Thomson and Thompson, bring a smile to the audience’s lips. 

More so, when the action shifts to the city of Bagghar, the viewer is treated to a thrilling ride as Tintin, Haddock and Snowy go on a fabulously choreographed chase. Sequences such as Tintin and Captain Haddock’s escape from the boat, Haddock’s narration of his grandfather’s war with the pirates and that of the climactic fight between Haddock and Sakharine are the highlights. The climax, which also hints at the film’s sequel, is good. The dialogues are very well-written and enjoyable.

Thus,as far as all the aspects of this introduction is concerned, Spielberg and Jackson will have no trouble selling the sequel to us as they have captured our imaginations with a serviceable Tintin introduction.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Till Now: Mid-Season finale

Season 3 of The Vampire Diaries is almost done. Its the Mid-season finale after a successful run of nine episodes and over for the year returning again on 5th January, 2012 (very long wait). And be warned the post below may contain some spoilers for those who have yet to see the ninth episode of the season.

Now lets recap what we know so far - So last season we saw Stefan leaving Mystic Falls with Klaus as condition for the werewolf antidote for Damon who got bitten by Tyler Lockwood in a struggle during he was changing during the full moon. So Stefan is still away and Elena is doing all she can to get him back to town with very little help from Damon, who is being a characteristic jerk and being less helpful than Elena hopes to be. Something else entirely is going on, Damon is actually tracking him along with Alaric, the history teacher and has been marking every place they had seen in a secret closet. Elena thinks all the news clips she procures from Sheriff Forbes about all the deaths are Klaus victims but the case is totally different (more Stefan news than Klaus news). Stefan has literally.....flipped the switch.....true upto a certain extent but there he goes at the season premiere and makes a call to Elena in Mystic maybe the caring Stefan is still in there....maybe there is still hope for him yet.

While Jeremy has his own problems, during the last season when Bonnie brought him back to life without the consent of those dead witches and they said there would be consequences.....well there you have it Jeremy Gilbert can now see the ghost of his two dead girlfriends Vicki and Anna and Bonnie is not in Mystic Falls at the moment so she doesn't know exactly what is going on there back home. Caroline and Tyler on the other....well too much sexual tension there. Alaric on the other feels like a failure - girlfriend dead, ex-wife is also dead and now he must look after Elena and Jeremy but he feels he has failed everything.

On the other hand Klaus and Stefan are a completely different story. Klaus wants to make more hybrids out of the werewolves but something is wrong even if he is doing the procedure as it is (umm... Elena is still alive), all of them are dying. So Stefan is his only companion in all this. After a string of failures in the hybrid making program, Klaus and Stefan go to the windy city....Chicago and there you go dagger out of another original, Klaus' sister Rebecca, who loved Stefan during his ripper period.

So long way from there Damon, Alaric and all the at the moment Mystic Falls residents are trying all they can to keep Elena out of Klaus' radar and Stefan along with Klaus is also trying all he can to keep Mr. Hybrid out of Mystic Falls. And you know what that necklace you saw Elena wear (a present from Stefan) actually belonged to Rebecca and is a talisman of the original witch who set that curse upon him all those years ago. There you have, Mystic Falls just seems to be the perfect place for a mythical creatures confluence and apparently everything dangerous happens there - meaning Klaus suspects that Stefan is not really truthful with him and off they go back there.

Now since I am trying to be spoiler free here in the spirit of those who still need to watch those nine episodes so I'm not going to reveal the story but I'll tell you this the all round invincible Klaus is actually afraid of something. Like Katherine's been running away from Klaus for millions of years Klaus is also running away from someone....a vampire hunter to be exact, Michael. Now why he is running away from this Micheal when the neither the moon nor the sun effect him is a different story altogether.

But i'll tell you this all this details lead up to one hell of a mid-season finale. Where tables are turned, allegiances changed and a plan within a plan rather goes badly. Only one good thing has happened out of all this - Stefan is free of Klaus' compulsion (YAY! ripper Stefan doesn't really set with me) and he wants revenge from Mr. Original Hybrid.

Anyways moving on thoughts for all nine episodes and where it could have been a little better - So I don't really think I need to elaborate much more on all the nine episodes because....well its season 3 and the show is going great keeping us viewers on our toes constantly. Every episode has so much going on there and their formula of ending every episode with a gigantic cliffhanger gives the show a major plus point. But I'd like to point one thing out sometimes all this jumble of story arcs in some of the episodes prove to much and lead it to waste and the episode proves to much of a disaster.

As far as the acting goes I have nothing to say. All of them are so great and no questions asked it is an ensemble of great actors.

So without further ado, the promo for the next episode -

Ohhhhh trouble ahead....and such a long wait....damn!

So see you guys on 5th January, 2012.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Secret Circle: Till Now: Mid-season finale

After a long absence, I'm back.

And after its nine episode run The Secret Circle is off for the moment to return on 5th Jan, 2012 (that is one long wait). Oh and if you still haven't seen the mid season finale then be warned before you read ahead - you may get some spoilers in here (although i'll try to be spoiler free).

Lets recap what we know so far - Cassie comes to Chance Harbor after an accident that kills her mother (which is not an accident at all) and catches the eye of Adam Conant, who coincidentally is a part of a secret group of witches and want her to join to see the circle to its full potential. But the the thing is Adam is already dating another circle member Diana Meade. Although Cassie knows there is something between her and Adam that cannot be explained, she knows her boundary and knows not to make advances on someone else's man. As to the remaining circle members - Faye Chamberlain, Melissa Glaser and Nick Armstrong - also want Cassie so the circle can be more powerful and be able to do much better spells that just opening lockers or curtains.

So Cassie is still reserving judgement because she is still depressed over her mothers death and is kinda a loner but certain incidents lead her to do the impossible and she must bind the circle in order to contain all the free energy laying around them all. Which leads to some complications the circle can't do individual magic alone and must rely on their fellow members to help in dire situations.

But there you have it - past comes knocking on their doors, revealing things about Cassie's mom that kinda paints her in bad light. So Cassie sits down to research and sort of finds out something entirely different that what they thought. One thing leads to another - a little bit of demon chase, a very very strong demon to be exact that needs a sigil to be contained and we lose a circle member - Nick. Which brings his brother Jake, who is portrayed as a big jerk with not such a great past with the circle member (except Cassie) back to town.

And Jake is way HOT! He seems to have caught the eye of his charming neighbor Cassie. That "Hey Neighbor" line which both Nick and Jack say when they meet Cassie is rather ironic. Apart from all the past bad dealings he has with the circle, Cassie is the only one who gives him the benefit of doubt. She is the only one who sees him as he is now rather than living in the past. Cassie also feels a sort of connection with Jake, both of them feel like outsiders to the tight-knit group or the locals and both have been running away from the show or in Cassie's case her mother who seems to be running away from her past.

But wait there is more to Jake than what meets the eye - he is also the enemy...somewhat. By later we all know the reason why he is back in Chance Harbor and that is not to attend his brother's funeral, well not really. And that is not all he seems to be wavering from his decided course of action through the later episodes. Hmmm....someone other than Adam would be good for her. Lets face it both Cassie and Jake's chemistry during the mid-season finale was of the charts....literally. So pardon me but I'd rather prefer Cassie and Jake to be together rather than her being with Adam.

Hopefully he'll be back for the back episodes (sorry its a spoiler for those who still need to watch the episode). Wait forgot to mention Cassie finally gets to know who her father was, a person named John Blackwell - and some of those scenes where she does magic by herself are super creepy.

Anyways moving on thoughts for all nine episodes and where it could have been a little better - So yes both "The Secret Circle" and "The Vampire Diaries" and babies of L.J. Smith (author) and both are helped by the same production department, Kevin Williamson to be exact. But while the vampire diaries has finally found its niche with the third season going on, the secret circle is still trying to find its footing. And I'd say little by little they are steps is good, baby steps is very good. Paranormal is one genre which has a lot of possibilities that can be effectively realized to make it a stellar show. Mainly what I felt was the witch part of the plot course use much work. We are learning about the 2nd generation and what they did or what happened in that fire - suspense and mystery - good way to keep the viewers on their toes but the fact still remains that that part of the plot could have been more fleshed out.

As far as the acting aspect goes - both Britt Robertson (Cassie) and Phoebe Tonekin (Faye) were the only ones who actually had a constant good act going on, although Louis Hunter (Nick) was very good in his act, well this the producers and directors deemed he stay on that is. Hopefully Nick i'll be back somehow. But Chris Zylka (Jake) was a force to be reckoned with....he started out stiff and by the mid-season hiatus became a favourite. Hopefully we'll see him again too. Jessica Parker (Melissa) and Shelley Hennig (Diana) are great as well (but not really my favorites).

But the one thing is it gets a bonus in one context is it honors Harry Potter and decidedly stay different from that genre of wand of waving. Remember the second episode where Cassie and Adam are in the clubhouse and Cassie seeing all the witchy stuff says "It feels like a Harry Potter movie" but Adam says "That guys had a wand". (Since the books and movies are different from each other but being adapted is good it helps you to stay on track and still explore more options.)

Promo for the next episode -

Promo for the next episode looks promising and hopefully we'd all have our hopes answered in the back 9 episodes.

So see you guys on 5th January, 2012. 

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