Friday, September 16, 2011

I Saw 8 Minutes of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

An 8-minute "sizzle reel" of David Fincher's adaptation of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" was shown to critics and audiences at various screenings throughout the U.S. this past week. I was at one of them, here's what I saw:

It's already a given that this movie is going to be the stuff of a three-way public spat between film geeks for whom David Fincher can do no wrong, fans of the book who will resent any changes and OTHER film geeks annoyed that this is being made at all when it was already turned into a wholly-decent movie in it's native country. Now, as before, I remain comfortably in Fincher's camp - everything about this material is comfortably in his wheelhouse, and he's assembled a hell of a team.

The footage itself wasn't "in order," it was more of a very long trailer explaining the basic plot and who the two main characters are. From the looks of things, it appears a certain amount of tinkering has gone on with the structure of the story in terms of streamlining the complicated process of events it takes for the two heroes' stories to intersect; but people who were worried things are going to be "toned down" should chill - the 'iffy' stuff (Salander's bisexuality, the 'payback' sequence, the murders) seems to have made the transition more than intact.

The interesting thing will be to see how Fincher chooses to "play" the material. The odd thing about the series (book and film) is that they're that strange mix of very-silly and very-serious that often informs pop-phenomenon bestsellers, "The DaVinci Code" being the best recent example. Storywise it's a giant grab-bag of lurid pulp: A crusading activist/journalist teams up with sexy goth/punk/biker/computer-hacker girl to root out the culprit in a decades-spanning series of unsolved Biblically-themed murders from among a wealthy family of decadent ex-Nazis; but all that kitchen-sink oddness is actually there as lead-in to mini-polemics about misogyny and political-corruption.

So... how does he play it? Do you trim down on the "silly" and aim for the 'serious' movie that it's bestselller-stature would be assumed to demand, or do you keep all the wacky business and go for broke? The footage shown seems to be looking at the second option, which strikes me as the better option.


Elessar said...

Put lengthily and nastily:

No. No you don't keep all the silly stuff and go for broke, you do the exact opposite. See, the characters and lurid aspect aren't what made it silly and eventually dragged it down, the absurd conspiracy BS that came into it in the 2nd and 3rd ones were what made it silly.

The first movie, in it's native language, was a tight, well crafted and efficient thriller, which cut of ANYTHING that didn't feed directly into that. It amounted to the X-Files minus the myth arc, you dig? Trying to keep that is POISON to the first film, because quite frankly there's too much stuff going on to really move through it with any efficiency.

Honestly, I was skeptical when they started casting, not least of which because of Daniel Craig. Daniel Craig, thus far, has one acting persona that works for him: Taciturn, angry, violent hardcase, his James Bond persona.

The character he's playing on the other hand is a schlubby, ineffective reporter, who needs the slightly psychotic girl who hacks into his computer to tell him what he's missing before he can make any headway. This was the first red flag because it seems to COMPLETELY miss the point of the character and his place in the larger story, especially since someone who could inhabit the role much better (and incidentally, is a much better actor) was interested, IE Viggo Mortenson, was interested.

And then there's the fact that Rooney Mara has never played a major role in ANY movie, but I'll be willing to overlook that until I've seen her try. I still don't see why they couldn't have gotten Noomi Rapace back.

But since you like everything in near little boxes, especially when it's someone who disagrees with you, put me down in the 3rd camp: I thought the original was fucking awesome and didn't need a remake. And anyway, I thought you'd have learned from Straw Dogs: You shouldn't remake something unless you have something new to say on the subject ;).

Chris said...

Is there a "normal" trailer of this movie anywhere? The one I saw in the theater was a jumble of random images and loud music, at the end of which I had learned nothing about the movie except that I think I saw Daniel Craig in there somewhere.

Nicholas said...

The second and third books in this series were a complete and unmitigated disaster. As said before there is absolutely NO reason to remake this series again after the completely serviceable Swedish version UNLESS you are doing so with the mind of we are scrapping 2/3 of what made the series awful after the first book and going in a completely different direction.

The likelihood of this happening is zilch because of blind fan rage. This is why I have almost no hope for this adaptation. I approve of the casting, I approve of the director but unless everyone involved is willing to make SEVERE AND SERIOUS changes to the source material they have no chance of transcending what has already been done with it.

Anonymous said...

When watching the original film, I felt like every second of the film was just speeding through in order to get all the plot points in. It didn't feel graceful or elegant at all and I honestly felt that it missed the point. There was a complete overhaul of every female character with the exception of Lisbeth Salander in the original film; strong, self assured female characters that Larsson has created that, frankly, could show up more in the Hollywood scene. Also, Blomkvist in the books is anything but the "schlubby, ineffective reporter" that he was portrayed as. He's supposed to have a certain level of sex appeal just as he's supposed to be a brilliant reporter who's simply fallen on hard times. I felt that the Sweedish film was extremely tight and cut down, but to its detriment because it lost so much of why the audience should care about the characters. Honestly, if I hadn't have read the books beforehand, I don't think I would have known what was going on.

motyr said...

The original Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film wasn't a "great" film, but it was effective. It became somewhat of a sleeper hit where I'm from, everybody was seeing it and it was very popular for some time. I'm one of the film geeks who thinks this "remake"/"reimagination"/"True Grit"-esque adaptation is completely unnecessary. I know I'm not going to win any friends by saying this, but the whole project has just reeked of a cash-in on moviegoers who either 1. didn't see or weren't aware of the Swedish film or 2. don't like "reading" movies, i.e. have no inclination to watch foreign films. I know Fincher is a well-respected director, etc etc, but I haven't been a fan of the idea regardless.

Steve said...

The problem is not that there is going to be a remake. Remakes can be fun if people with talent rather than hunger for money decide to take a shot at some good material. The problem is that it's way too early for it.

First of all, I think it's beyond insulting to produce a remake just a year or two after a movie came out. Especially if it wasn't just good but pretty damn great. But the biggest issue is, the original movies were just gaining popularity when the remake was announced. It takes time for foreign movies to become known since it's usually spreading by word of mouth and now they're cutting in before they had a chance to bring in the profits from the international sales (I mean, the full version they released as a two-parter on tv isn't even out on DVD yet!) and now David Fincher comes along, who's regarded a great filmmaker by pretty much everyone and steals both their thunder and their money.

My guess is that the swedish film industry isn't exactly the biggest one, so I think if they put something that good out they deserve to get the benefits and this will definitly hurt them. Sure, one could argue that by making a widely popular remake people might get interested to check out the original, but that usually just works if the remake sucks ass, doesn't it? With Fincher chances are it won't. So people will have the decision to watch a great movie in their native language or watch basically the same thing in swedish. Aside from hardcore fans and film geeks, how many do you think will side with the latter? Who saw LotR and thought "man, I have to check out the previous adaptations"?

Fincher's version would always have made money because, well, it's Fincher. So he could've done a few other movies before this one and it would've been just as successful. All that's different now is that they're robbing a small film company of a chance of bigger success, which wouldn't even compare to what the Fincher one is going to make anyway. Even worse, it's all for shits and giggles, they gain nothing by doing it now.

Also, Rooney Mara looks retarded with those blonde eyebrows.