I always find it interesting, how some of the greatest European comic books are virtually unknown in the US. Among them, is of course the collection of Tin Tin adventures by Belgian writer and illustrator HergÃƒï¿½. It was only when Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson began tackling the property and turned it on a hot computer generated action adventure that people began to take notice - and even while watching that movie, I think most people never realized that they were watching an adaptation of some of the greatest classic comic books ever made.
With "The Adventures of Tintin: Season Two" Shout! Factory is releasing the remaining cartoon versions of these comic books on DVD. Featuring "The Shooting Star," "The Broken Ear," King Ottokar's Sceptre," Tintin in Tibet," "Tintin and the Picaros," Land of Black Gold" and "Flight 714," the DVD set completes the series, making almost all of HergÃƒï¿½'s Tintin adventures available in animated form.
I think it is important to point out that these cartoons are exceedingly faithful to the comic books, which is something that can be a blessing but also a curse at times. Comic books are different medium than animated cartoons and what works on paper does not always translate well into films. By trying to stay too close to the original comic books, I repeatedly had the sense that the cartoon lost impact and dynamics as a result. While moments of tension are often stretched over numerous panels and perhaps pages in the comic book, the cartoon does the same thing, but loses the immediacy of the moment. By the time the payoff of some suspenseful scenes comes around, it has long lost its drive.
The other observation in that respect is the amount of monologuing in these cartoons. Comic books work very well with a narrator or having characters talk to themselves. When you see the same thing on screen, however, it just feels awkward at times. When Tintin keeps telling himself "What is that?" or essentially comments on things we already see in motion, it is becoming clear that the adaptation is, perhaps, a little too faithful. Simply put, there is a bit too much telling and too little showing in these cartoons than there should be.
Nonetheless, I tremendously enjoyed watching "The Adventures of Tintin." As the proud owner of all Tintin comic books, it is fun to watch the escapades on the screen despite some of the narrative shortcomings of these cartoons. The mysteries are smart and very detailed, filled with unexpected plot twists that always seem rational and natural. What makes these adventures even more fun is that there is some sense of continuity as one story begins where the last one left off.
Shout! Factory presents a great-looking transfer of these cartoons on this DVD set. Although there is some dirt evident in some of the shots, I am not sure how much of it is simply a result of the original source material. The color reproduction is generally good, though I did notice some compression artifacting where colors lose some of their vibrancy and where the image shows mosquitoing, especially around edges of extreme contrast. Nothing to get too distracted by, but still worth pointing out, I suppose.
The adventures are accompanied by a stereo Dolby Digital audio track that serves the show well enough, but I was surprised to see that DVD set does not even contain subtitles. The packaging claims it is closed captioned but in the world of all-digital HDMI connections, they are not accessible for most of us.
"The Adventures of Tintin: Season Two" offer over five hours worth of Tintin cartoon adventures. They are fun and incredibly faithful to the comic books, so every fan of the books should pick this DVD set up and take a look.