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So, continuing this extemporaneous catching up on all the genre movies we didn't have time for last year... But first a story.

See, it goes like this: For my sixth birthday, a classmate gave me a hardbound copy of Tintin in the Land of Black Gold. I was newly-arived in Tunisia, and I'd never been exposed to the Arab world, Islam, or third-world (as we called it then) politics. This was coming from two years in Washington, DC. The kind of comics we had came on the TV on Saturday morning, and they had a rather poor level of cultural sophistication (this Popeye clip was considered hilarious at the time).

It was a huge eye-opener for me. The comic use arabic and german. There were bribed officials, faith crimes, arms and drug smuggling, corporate oil involving itself in local politics, tribal clashes and foreign-funded rebellion, war-mongering by ex-colonial powers, consumer fraud and market manipulation, expatriate entrepreneurs, spoilt children of oil-rich sheikhs. It was a totally post-colonial Tintin. It was the perfect introduction for me to this brave new world I had so much to learn about. And it pulled no punches, and was equally silly and serious. I must have read it 100 times during the five years we were in Tunisia. It's one of the few children's books I kept.

Now, I've heard all the criticisms, and yes, at times in his career Hergé did pump out overtly racist and mind-bendingly stupefied stories. In those pre-ten years when I was looking everywhere for more Tintin, I couldn't ever find Tintin in Africa (which very closely resembled that Popeye cartoon) or Tintin in America (heap big red man drink plenty fire-water), and it was hard to find The Shooting Star (evil jewish robber-barons at work!) and now I know why. Some awful stuff, for sure. I still haven't read Tintin in the Soviet Union. I like to think he made up for it in his later years, even if he had to cameo each and ever character he ever came up with. By Flight 714 and Tintin and the Picaros, you couldn't turn a page without hitting another cameo appearance by Rastapopulous, Bianca Castafiore, or Senhor Oliviera de Figura.

But I'll take accidentally racist over intentionally insular any day. The plots didn't always make sense, and they did stretch credibility on more than one occasion per book, but at heart they dealt with serious issues and important themes: drug cartels, colonialism, the energy economy, media manipulation, tribal rights, etc. Well, except for the ones on UFOs. That was just plain dumb fun.

So it was with a little trepidation that I started watching Stephen Spielberg's adaptation. I'd heard it took liberties, but was fun. I'd heard good reviews. But I knew that little tyrant's voice, that child at the heart of us that knows how the story is supposed to go, who tells the reader to "do the voice right. you know, the squeaky one, 'cos you're doing it wrong."

Ugh. Spielberg laid a big log of stupid down in the middle of my Tintin. What started out as a promising pastiche of Crab with the Golden Claws, Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham's Treasure, and Land of Black Gold turned into a long car chase and video-game. Shall I say it was "disappointing". No, I will say it was shit. It was dumbed-down-to-the-Mario-Brothers-level lack of substance of any kind. By the end, I did not fall asleep, but I wish I had. Stephen even managed to shoehorn the FBI into it, since obviously Interpol isn't serious enough.

At least it didn't remove Haddock's dipsomania or the Thom(p)son twins' utter cluelessness.

And that's the problem: Hollywood has discovered that they can now take car chases to a level so absolutely unheard of and unbelievable that it's the film equivalent of giving a six year old a case of Red Bull and LSD and a license to destroy anything in the world with impunity.

And it's boring.

Very boring stuff.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
Ugh. Spielberg laid a big log of stupid down in the middle of my Tintin.


There's your problem.

Well, and Hollywood, yes. But Spielberg is everything that is wrong with Hollywood. EVERYTHING.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )