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A Tale of Two Movies: Spielberg delivers not one but two holiday treats with Tintin and War Horse 

Spielberg gives us one really good movie and one not-so-good movie.

click to enlarge screen_war_horse.jpg
Lots of film enthusiasts like me are licking their chops in anticipation of Steven Spielberg's biopic, Lincoln, set to arrive this year and likely win every Academy Award shortly thereafter. But the filmmaker, who hasn't directed a film since the embarrassing fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, has brought a double dose of holiday joy to moviegoers everywhere. Released within four days of each other, The Adventures of Tintin and the tearjerker War Horse are tasty appetizers before Spielberg directs Daniel Day Lewis to the Oscar promiseland next winter.

The day after Christmas I, and what seemed to be the rest of Bend, went out to see a movie. I was finally ready to open up my wallet and purchased two tickets for what was billed as The Adventures of Tintin: An IMAX 3D Experience for the low, low price of an arm and a leg. Entering the lobby, there were lines upon lines forming for showings an hour away. But, to my relief, most of these were for War Horse which got me thinking, "had I picked the wrong movie?" As it turns out, yes, yes I did.

It's hard to pass up a movie with Steve Spielberg and Peter Jackson plastered all over it. The duo has been responsible for some of the most important movies in recent Hollywood history. Sadly, Tintin doesn't fit the bill. A four-year collaboration between Jackson and Spielberg, Tintin is the most realistic fully animated movie I've ever seen. If the title character were sitting next to you, you probably wouldn't notice anything odd about him. This was a movie made for 3D, just as it was made to be animated. Unfortunately, though, the story is crap.

The film is based on comic books created by Belgian artist, Hergé, about a young journalist who is one part Robert Langdon and one part Indiana Jones, and gets swindled into a boring adventure after he refuses to let a man buy a model pirate ship. It went from dull to ridiculous and back to dull again. Not to mention a completely impractical use of high-rise cranes. Had this been a silly ol' 2D, live-action movie, I would have asked for my money back. Needless to say, I left the theater with a frown on my face.

I wouldn't, however, give up on the man who brought us Jurassic Park and a few days later saw most people's first-choice, Warhorse. Spielberg has made as large a living off sentimental period pieces as he has off of dinosaurs and aliens, and this one fits that sappy mold. The story of an English chap whose childhood horse gets sold off to WWI and the journeys they take to reunite.

In 1998, Spielberg gave us Saving Private Ryan, one of the greatest war movies ever made, but War Horse has an entirely different sentiment. For some reason, we care so much more when animals get involved. In this movie, I found myself not rooting for the boy, but for the horse, Joey. In the end, it was a war movie that's less about war and more about finding sympathy for others under desperate circumstances.

Despite the lumps in my throat, this was a great WWI movie - something we don't often see - and oddly enough, the Germans didn't seem all that bad. War Horse succeeds where Tintin didn't because of its well-thought out story. While you're always wondering where Joey will end up, with Tintin you know exactly where he's going.

If you didn't spend your holiday at the cinema and haven't seen either of these flicks, I would suggest going with War Horse... as we all wait for Lincoln, of course.

The Adventures of Tintin

2 Stars

Starring Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell
and Simon Pegg

Rated PG

War Horse

4 Stars

Starring Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson

Rated PG-13


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