Spielberg and Jackson thrilled the faithful with their very presence. But how was the TINTIN footage?

The highlight of the panel for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn wasn’t any of the footage shown, which was largely extended versions of stuff we had already seen, but just the presence of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on stage. It was even more exciting for fans because Jackson wasn’t officially scheduled to be in the room, but he showed up anyway (as a quick stopover from doing Tintin press in Europe and heading back to New Zealand).

Seeing these guys up there was a nice experience, but what about the footage? What we saw was interesting, and looked like old-fashioned Spielberg adventure filmmaking. There’s plenty of gunplay - a guy gets machine gunned to death at Tintin’s doorstep, Tintin takes down an attacking plane with one well-placed bullet - and there’s energy to the proceedings that was missing from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

What I can’t get past is the heads. The environments and the motions of the characters are incredible and realistic, but then they have these cartoony heads. The footage reminded me a lot of that picture of Homer Simpson in the real world; Herge’s art mixed cartoony characters with more detailed backgrounds, but I’m not sure it quite works on film. I’ll probably get used to it when it’s all said and done, but in the meantime there’s something disconcerting about an emotional speech from Captain Haddock about his family when his head looks like a parade balloon.

We saw Tintin meeting Captain Haddock for the first time, and learned that there will be no Professor Calculus in this film. Secret of the Unicorn will incorporate elements of The Crab With the Golden Claws, but it looks like the film has been fairly liberally adapted from the source material. At least that’s my understanding from talking with people who are Tintin fans.

As a Spielberg movie Tintin looks interesting. As the latest mocap film it looks better than what Zemeckis has put out so far. The big question is how America will take to the film, which is already a guaranteed hit in Europe.