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8 Minute Preview Of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Shows David Fincher Is Right At Home

by Gabe Toro
September 15, 2011 11:45 AM
16 Comments
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Last night, advance screenings of Screen Gems' "Straw Dogs" around the country were preceded by a pleasant/nasty surprise from parent company Sony, in the form of an eight-minute preview of David Fincher's Feel-Bad Movie Of Christmas, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." While it was cut together like a trailer, and it may surface online, it was strictly for the hardcore fans, and, while un-spoilery, did indeed lean towards the R-rated end of the spectrum.

The footage begins with Henrik Vagner (Christopher Plummer) receiving a series of familiar packages, the latest in what we're told is a long line arriving over the course of several years. Enter Rooney Mara’s physically brittle, possibly coke-using Lisbeth Salander. She offers no opinion on her latest research target, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), though, when prodded, she provides a few juicy secrets about the rogue journalist, specifically his cunnilingus methods. She does conclude that he’s honest. And yes, in case you were wondering, the footage pretty much follows the story, look, and texture of the original films, albeit with that Fincher sheen, that swift attention to detail and sense of overwhelming dread.

At this point, Vanger meets with Blomkvist, telling him his subjects are, “Thieves, liars, bullies, the most detestable people you’ll ever meet. My family.” He tells the story of young Harriet, the missing girl who shapes the narrative, which involves what seem to be extensive flashbacks featuring Julian Sands as a young Henrik. From that footage, we move to the first confrontation between Lisbeth and her abusive parole officer, who offers her freedom in exchange for a few gropes, which is a little rougher to watch than it is in the original, Mara's features being much softer than the angular Noomi Rapace.

From then on, it's a montage of clues and suspense sequences, as Blomkvist interviews various members of the Vanger clan, including Anita Vanger (Joely Richardson) and Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgard), both of whom seem unamused by this roving reporter. As we're introduced to the familiar number clues from the original, Blomkvist is teamed with Lisbeth, despite his shock after learning she had previously investigated him. He enters her apartment forcefully, and, in Bond-ian fashion, quietly commands, "Why don't you put some clothes on, get rid of your girlfriend?" as a lover clumsily falls out of bed, the second of this footage's references to Lisbeth's bisexuality. Then, Craig's Blomkvist drops the trailer-ready line, "I want you to help me catch a killer, of women." Oooh!

From that moment, it's another montage, showcasing the film's action sequences, including an exploding barn and a memorably mangled, dying man. The entire preview seemed to be scored by Trent Reznor, with a thick, moody droning sound giving way to, at the end of the clip, a staccato synth drum rhythm that was abrasively industrial, a sign that we're in less poppy territory than Reznor's work on "The Social Network."

The good news is, the footage definitely shows that Fincher is working within his wheelhouse, and the film will be visually dynamic, with rain that drips off the screen, and snow that seems oppressive and borderline violent. The bad news is, the footage seems so similar to the original that, beyond dopey commercial reasons ("OMG SUBTITLEZ" says a nation of xenophobes), it doesn't yet feel like it has a reason to exist. And with the story remaining so similar (although we saw locations suggesting that portions of the second film/book would creep into this version, but that may be our own faulty memory), we're still waiting to see what Fincher and writer Steve Zallian have done to the original narrative to make it their own (we already know the ending has been changed). "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" opens December 21st.

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16 Comments

  • andres | November 21, 2011 3:45 AMReply

    where can i watch this trailer on the internet?

  • Susan | September 19, 2011 8:41 AMReply

    I love how Fincher fanboys love to trash the original Swedish film (calling it T.V. quality) and trash Noomi Rapace. Fact of the matter is if the original hadn't done a good job of getting Americans excited about the character (and buying more books), Sony and Fincher wouldn't be making THEIR version either. Without people enjoying the original, this remake would never have happened.

    That said, I'm sure Fincher and Rooney Mara's take on it will be interesting even though familiar.

  • Suzanne B | September 18, 2011 2:22 AMReply

    umm.. it IS the same story. I liked the swiss version.. i hope to love the american version. I was a bit surprised they cast daniel craig because of the bond connection... i wish they had cast an unknown. we shall see...

  • Noitsaremake | September 16, 2011 3:15 AMReply

    I'm not seeing this movie until Daniel Craig gives me back the $12.00 for Cowboys and Aliens.

  • Jessica Kiang | September 15, 2011 12:50 PMReply

    @L We had actually edited that to "bisexuality" before reading your comment, but, yes, Lisbeth's sexuality is a thorny issue. Didn't want to use "sexuality" as I think the writer's intention is to tell us that this is one of two girl-on-girl encounters the trailer alludes to, something you might not get from "sexuality. "Biisexuality" is also imprecise in its inferences, but it more accurately represents what we know of the character, so I guess that's why we made the change?

  • Zack | September 15, 2011 12:47 PMReply

    "a little rougher to watch than it is in the original"
    Yeesh. That's saying a lot; the scene in the original made me want to avert my eyes, and I haven't done that in a movie since "Syriana".

  • L | September 15, 2011 12:23 PMReply

    Can't wait to see it - when and, of course, if this appears online at any point.

    A little sidenote - I guess it's nitpicking, but Lisbeth is not really homosexual. In the book and in the Swedish film as well she (a bit of a spoiler, I guess) sleeps with Blomkvist and other encounters with men are also mentioned. If I remember correctly, one of the characters referred to her not even as bisexual, but simply as sexual - she likes having sex, doesn't really matter if it's with a woman or a man.

    Anyway, I strongly disagree with the opinion about the necessity of Fincher's version - the Swedish films, in my opinion, did not do the books any justice, Rapace was ok, but it was definitely not the Lisbeth that Larson described. The rest of it - not even worth mentioning.

  • Travis Hopson | September 15, 2011 12:21 PMReply

    Yeah, we had this before our Straw Dogs screening as well. I definitely dug it. You could tell it was a Fincher film. It had that dark, kinda ominous tone he's so good at establishing. But it did look an awful lot like the Swedish ones, and something about Rooney Mara still isn't clicking with me.

  • Plantagenet | September 15, 2011 12:12 PMReply

    Fincher Fanboy reaction:
    Any other director:Why remake the original, how dare they.
    Fincher is directing: The original sucked, it was a TV movie it will be better than the original.
    And is Craig just playing Bond again?

  • Fred | September 15, 2011 7:56 AMReply

    Call it a remake, a reboot, a semi-simulataeous/partially concurrent reimagining of the source novel or whatever you want, there is no way that this won't far exceed the quality (or lack thereof) of the original films which largely played like Lifetime on TV-MA night. As for the similarity in terrain and look, at least they didn't relocate it...can you imagine the purist backlash then?

  • The Playlist | September 15, 2011 2:48 AMReply

    You're right, you CAN'T POSSIBLY have any problems with this. SHUT DOWN THE WEBSITE, guyz. Eyeroll.

  • Talie | September 15, 2011 2:45 AMReply

    "The bad news is, the footage seems so similar to the original that, beyond dopey commercial reasons (“OMG SUBTITLEZ” says a nation of xenophobes), it doesn’t yet feel like it has a reason to exist."

    Well, then, make sure you pass on reviewing it professionally because you clearly have a bias.

  • The Playlist | September 15, 2011 2:38 AMReply

    Who says we mind? And if you consider this flak, I hate to see what you think criticism is. This is a very fair observation. Does it look impressive? Yes. Does it look (so far) exactly like the original with the exact same story. Yes, so far. If anyone sees this footage and doesn't think that's a fair observation, well they either need their eyes checked or I assume they run or work for a Fincher fansite.

  • cirkusfolk | September 15, 2011 1:26 AMReply

    I don't mind the fact that they are remaking it. If I remember correctly Let Me In (Let the Right One In) received a lot of the same flak you're giving Tattoo, only to be embraced by fans of the original after it came out. I think the same will happen here.

  • JP | September 15, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    I'm curious about the accents, but you don't mention them. I'm assuming they're not a problem then?

  • TimParker | September 15, 2011 1:21 AMReply

    I've made this comment earlier but it bears repeating: To those who keep comparing this with the Swedish version, it is understandable to make comparisons obviously because they're both film versions of the same novel, but that's exactly what they are--two separate filmmaking teams taking on the same novel. It's not a "remake" and not an attempt to simply Anglicize the Swedish film (I know no one in this post made that comment, but that sentiment has gone around a lot and it's crazy non-sense)

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