Comic-Con 'Tintin' Footage: This Ain't 'The Polar Express'

For his first trip to Comic-Con, Steven Spielberg showed off some brand new Tintin footage, finally answering some of our lingering questions about the film's 3D motion-captured aesthetic.

The good news: Tintin looks fantastic. While there are still some signs of the uncanny valley, this is the first motion-captured film I've seen that does a realistic job of showing off facial nuances. The film fits perfectly into Herge's aesthetic for Tintin, while also showcasing the rich environments and action set pieces that we've come to love from Spielberg. The footage we saw was based on early renderings from Weta, the finished product will look even better, Spielberg said.

Before we caught a glimpse of the actual Tintin footage, Spielberg also showed off a hilarious screen test featuring Peter Jackson auditioning for the Captain Haddock role while a CG Snowy (Tintin's trusty dog) pranced around in the background. Spielberg was initially unsure if Tintin could be filmed as live action with a CG Snow, so the footage was made to see how feasible that could be. The CG Snowy looked fine, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tintin would have ended up looking a lot like Robert Altman's Popeye had he gone the live-action route. (And yes, I do love Popeye, I just think that would have been a bad choice for Tintin.)

The actual film footage started off with someone being shot down at Tintin's door (this is a fun family film folks!), and then transitions to a ship where he meets Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) for the first time. It then went through several action scenes, and also showed us a bit of Daniel Craig as the film's villain, Red Rackham. The actual plot behind The Secret of the Unicorn centers on Haddock's family history, which is one reason Spielberg said that he and Peter Jackson chose to feature this Tintin story first.

The film's environments looked incredibly detailed, but the characters were the real stars of the show. You can clearly see the actors' performances in every character model. When asked how this film differs from Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf, Spielberg said the motion capturing in Tintin is able to convey more emotion because Weta built up the musculature, nerves and overall anatomy for each character. He also noted that the animators working on Tintin also worked on the animation in Avatar.

Needless to say, I think most people who were ambivalent about Tintin will be excited once they finally see it in action. Tintin hits theaters on December 23.