Tin Tin is one of the more eyebrow raising projects happening in Hollywood right now,  at least from where I sit. A huge-budgeted feature that combines the talents of two of the A’est of Grade directors, centered around a property that seems to be popular everywhere that isn’t the US, all done in a format that has far from proven itself as a revenue goldmine, with several sequels treated as foregone conclusions… Intense. I have a feeling Spielberg and Jackson know what they’re doing, at least in terms of making back the bucks across the globe with the character, but it’s hard to get too excited about another motion-capture feature that pushes the boundaries of reality/uncomfortable simulacra in a kids film of all things.

The first images from the film, specially delivered to Empire for their feature issue, show that the film is going to look… like a motion-capture version of Tin Tin. Naturally the animation quality is astounding –these films have never had a problem looking good in stills– but while there was never any doubt that WETA would bring their best foot forward, to see the characters emote and perform will be a different story.

Spielberg and Jackson wisely stacked the deck in their favor when it comes to creating good will for their animated characters by gathering a cast that includes Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (as Thompson and Thomson), Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, and Toby Jones. Empire teases the feature with a few quotes from the two directors, including comments on casting.

On the story and style…

Spielberg: . “The first part of the film, which is the most mysterious part, certainly owes much to not only film noir but the whole German Brechtian theatre — some of our night scenes and our action scenes are very contrasty. But at the same time the movie is a hell of an adventure.”

On Pegg and Frost…

Jackson: “When people first heard that bit of casting they thought that we’d gone barking mad.”

Spielberg: “The Thompson Twins can’t be clones of each other. Nick and Simon provided all the differences we needed to foil for each other. They have a wonderful moment in the movie where they start to have an argument about whose sidekick is whose.”

At the end of the day, I want footage. It’s a pointless exercise to prognosticate how people will respond to the film and how much fun it looks to be without seeing it in motion. I expect an exhilarating, swashbuckling affair, though I remain skeptical about effortlessly enjoying the Zemeckis-recalling motion-capture performances. It’s not too often that such titanic industry dudes come together to produce a film, so expect the next year to be a steady stream of Tin Tin build-up.

Check out Empire’s preview and grab it off the stands next time you’re out and about in reality.

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