Friday, June 3, 2011

David Fincher's Dragon Tattoo will take Christmas to the dark side

Movie taglines. They are generally considered an essential ingredient to a film’s marketing and give audiences a flavour of what to expect for their forthcoming movie experience. David Fincher has certainly taken that school of thought on board for his upcoming remake of the outstanding Swedish thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This week saw the release of two trailers (a red-band teaser which was subsequently removed when the PG friendly green-band version was released). It’s tagline, smeared across the screen, “The feel bad movie of Christmas” certainly gives us an idea of what to expect. In addition, a moody, black and white poster revealing a half naked Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig (who portray Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist respectively) was released with the tagline, “Evil shall with evil be expelled.” I’m guessing Fincher isn’t much of a Jingle Bells and Santa kinda’ fella with this marketing approach which has really sprung to life like a jack-in-the-box and has whetted a lot of appetites for the hectic Winter season of movies.

But before we go any further into Fincher’s re-do of Dragon Tattoo, lets reflect back to March of last year when the original was released to audiences. Based on the international best selling Millennium Trilogy, the story focuses on the disappearance of a member of the shady Vanger family led by disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist. During the investigation Blomkvist teams up with Goth hacker Lisbeth Salander. As they get deeper into the case they begin to uncover some disturbing home truths and are sucked into world of corruption and murder. The film was hailed as a huge hit and the two sequels (The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – what a mouthful) turned the Millennium trilogy into a hit franchise with cinemagoers worldwide. Swedish actress Noomi Rapace who played Salander was rightly hailed as delivering an iconic role which saw her lose a considerable amount of weight and actually go through several body piercings to really mould herself into the complex character of the computer hacker. She may have considered herself unlucky to not have received more recognition than she actually did after begin snubbed at this year’s Oscars.

In the current and sweltering climate of remakes, prequels and the rest it was no surprise to hear Hollywood and David Fincher specifically, were interested in remaking the Swedish thriller. The Social Network director confirmed his next project shortly after the release of Dragon Tattoo and has had a very hectic schedule over the last 12 months what with the success of his Facebook movie and doing the rounds at various awards ceremonies. Fincher has taken a slightly different approach to his US version. Instead of glossing his project with the stars and stripes, he has in fact shot the film on location in Stockholm. With an impressive cast that includes Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist and relatively unknown actress Rooney Mara (who had a minor role in The Social Network) as Lisbeth Salander, on paper it looks a slightly risqué yet intriguing cast. With support from Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright and Max von Sydow this could turn out to be a dark horse in the best films of this year.

Reactions to the footage released this week has been very positive with both trailers showing pretty much the same short, sharp sequences bar a bloody looking Daniel Craig and a topless Rooney Mara in the green-band version. From my point of view it appears Fincher is keeping very true to the original books written by the late Stieg Larsson who sadly passed away before the original trilogy even came to cinemas. So it seems fitting that the Fight Club filmmaker has stayed truthful and looks to have really captured the moody and dark essence of Stockholm and gives very little away with Trent Reznor and Karen O’s blistering version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song powering in the foreground.

However, a big topic on people’s minds has been the US-style portrayal of the lead character, Lisbeth Salander. Going for an unknown could end up going in one of two different ways; it could either tank and ruin the film or it could end up being an inspired choice and potentially be a career turning point for Rooney Mara whose other credentials include the shoddy Nightmare on Elm Street re-do and Youth in Revolt. But from the first official poster and shots of her in character released earlier on in the year it appears that the New York-born actress is diving straight in the deep end to give an honest and committed performance as Salander. According to reports, in prep for the role she locked herself in a room for a week to read all three books, and ultimately eat fierce competition from the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Winter’s Bone actress Jennifer Lawrence.

With Fincher’s dogged style of filmmaking, his most recent success about the creation of a social networking site and lets face it, his pristine CV, expectations are sky high for another success in his already sterling career. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hits cinemas on the 26th December.

Written by Michael Cunneen

You can also follow me on Twitter @michaelcunneen

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