Everything Else, TGITDNMAR — December 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

TGITDNMAR (12/21/11)

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It’s that time again for TGITDNMAR, which (obviously) stands for Thank God It’s The Day New Movies Are Released.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Word on the street is that director David Fincher has made a near shot-for-shot remake of the original Swedish film by Niels Arden Oplev.  This news is at once surprising, expected, and disappointing.

For the record, since apparently you must disclose these things when it comes to this saga: I loved the books (the first being the best, natch) and was nonplussed by the adaptations.  The first was fairly solid yet still significantly bothered me (mostly from an adaptation standpoint), and the latter films quickly became increasingly worse, with the third probably reflecting more issues with its matching book than anything else (see: freaking gigantic blond guy that feels no pain).

The reaction to this American remake is surprising and disappointing largely because of who’s behind the camera.  David Fincher is a visionary director, and if the intention all along had been to merely ape the earlier version, why get someone of his talent (not to mention paycheck size)?

On the other hand, it’s expected to a certain extent because…what else could be done with this story?  It’s layered and dense, and the removal of alteration of any of the threads would likely pull the house of cards apart, especially when the plots of the second and third chapters of the saga are so intertwined.  Fincher could only bring his Fincherian charm to the telling of the story, and I’m not getting the impression that he did that, or at least not well enough.  Still, if I saw fit to watch Let Me In in theaters less than four years after seeing its predecessor, I’m all but guaranteed to do the same thing in this case (and besides, just look at that cast!).

Dylan’s Chance of Viewing (in the theater): 90%

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
First off – in case you didn’t see it at the time, Man, I Love Films’ writer Simon Columb posted a review of Tintin way back in October when it opened up in the UK.  Check it out here.

I don’t want to compare Tintin to soccer (futbol!) because I don’t feel the analogy is entirely apt, but it’s not all that far off.  Sure, there’s a chance that the character (and film) will catch on with American audiences – and from the sounds of its quality and given its pedigree, I hope it does – but don’t you feel as though this is the “pure sport” being pushed on the dumb Americans?  It’s this enterprise that’s been in existence forever, widely beloved by millions of Europeans, yet it’s largely ignored if not altogether an unknown quantity in the States.  Surely, having massive names like Spielberg and Peter Jackson aboard will help to squash that status, but until then, I’m unconvinced, at least from a “will this catch fire in the US?” standpoint.

As for the quality of the film itself, it has earned high marks from both IMDb users and Rotten Tomatoes critics, being compared (gasp!) to ground as hallowed as Raiders of the Lost Ark.  You’ve got my attention.

Dylan’s Chance of Viewing (in the theater): 72%

We Bought A Zoo
…and saved more than 15% off our car insurance by switching to Geico!!

Sorry, I’ve been waiting to use that one.  Would have made a ridiculous mock poster, too, had I Photoshop skills and/or a poster for the film where the text would have fit nicely on to.  Alas…

Not for nothing, but doesn’t Matt Damon’s hair look ridiculous in this thing?  I’m not really one to comment on such things, but something about Damon looking so schlumpy is bothering me.  Even his look in The Informant! was much better, as at least he had the excuse there of that being a more comedic film.

Regardless of how nice/terrible its star’s coiffure is, I have very, very little interest in Cameron Crowe’s latest film.  Were the tone different, it would have Adam Sandler or Kevin James starring, right?  I suppose that’s the draw of Crowe, and that he doesn’t make terrible films (Elizabethtown notwithstanding, I assume, as I’ve not seen it), but I just get the feeling that this is a filmmaker that’s no longer relevant, sad as it is to say; that Crowe’s formula worked for a good while but has grown stale, and no amount of adorable four-legged friends will help.  I hope I’m wrong.

Dylan’s Chance of Viewing (in the theater): 31%

21 Comments

  • Hmmmm I get the feeling that its only me and a handful others who have seen Dragon Tattoo and feels its a carbon copy of the the Swedish version.

    For some reason I feel like I’m watching it with completely wrong glasses or something because its getting praised a lot and as far as I can see it will be a front runner in the box office to.

    • Well then, maybe that’s not so much the word on the street, I just keep hearing the word from you so much that it’s set in as the word on the street with me. ;)

      Frankly, I hope I don’t feel like you do, as it will only validate the thoughts I’ve got above and would have to qualify as a disappointment for Fincher.

      • I’ll be on FilmyArn talking about and I’ll try being a little more nuanced and objective on it. Unfortunately I wont be seeing it again before that because my parents are coming here after new years and I’ll go with them then.

        Hopefully my early opinion has lowered the bar for so that you’ll actually be positively surprised by it.

  • @Joel I completely disagree. I really didn’t feel like it was a copy of the Swedish original at all. And while I like that film version, Fincher’s version excels in almost every aspect. It’s pacing is smoother, the story is more grounded and overall it’s full of stronger performances.

    I think it almost solely comes down to the Lisbeth Salander performance. The original immediately put Noomi Rapace on my radar, and she is certainly commendable in the role. But Mara’s version of The Girl is so much more complex in my eyes. Noomi is more so a badass where Rooney is truly scary. Her character also feels genuinely broken and fragile in ways I never felt from Noomi’s version of that same character.

    Basically, the movies are different enough for me to appreciate them both. But as it stands right now, I prefer Fincher’s interpretation of Stieg Larsson’s work.

    • Even without having seen the new version, I can see where you’re coming from, Lindsay. Rapace was a great kickass heroine, but it does feel like the background of her psyche was a bit glossed over in favor of theatrics. Then again, that just may be my preference to the books speaking.

      I’ve been turned off by Mara’s look in this version – Rapace was pretty damn close to how I pictured Lisbeth while reading – but if she has brought more complexity to the character, more power to the film.

      • Yeah, I initially had the same reaction to Mara’s look but once you see it in action, it’s so convincing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film after you see it though!

  • Tintin is outstanding stuff, plot-driven and all about the thrill of the mystery and the excitement of an adventure. Tintin himself is a blank slate, as he should be– Herge seems to have designed him that way intentionally, allowing “anyone” to see themselves in the character, which probably at least partially explains his popularity. If you love high action/adventure, this is your movie.

    We Bought a Zoo, on the other hand, is aggressively cloying to the point of strong-arming you and bullying you into realms of fake sentimentality. It’s also proof that great acting can uphold a weak film; Damon, as the saying goes, is a G. He and the rest of the cast give the film a reason to exist. That doesn’t mean it’s good, but they are, so there’s that.

    • I completely agree! 72%!!! Crazy. And I thought my review was positive enough!

      “… as though this is the “pure sport” being pushed on the dumb Americans!”

      You don’t exactly support the cause by considering NOT watching it on this point alone. I mean, HARRY POTTER has all the culture and history of England too – and us English folk lap up some true Americana blockbusters – everyone is excited about THE AVENGERS and we all watched CAPTAIN AMERICA and bloody hell, we lap it up more than you in the case of the PIrates movies (international vs domestic). I think Spielberg and Jackson alone give enough clout to guarantee a viewing – and its only you who misses out if you don’t watch it as the 3D is a huge part of the cinema experience.

      • I’m actually inclined to err on Dylan’s side of things in terms of whether or not Tintin catches on here. I think it’s an excellent film but many Americans tend to stray from things that aren’t familiar to them– if it’s not burgers and fries, it’s not worth eating, if you receive my meaning. I imagine that Spielberg is enough to get an older crowd into seats and that the cineastes will check it out, as well as families, but I can see a lot of people scoffing at mocap animated film with clear European sensibilities and watching Tom Cruise Is More Masculine Than You instead.

        • It’s been out for a couple of months her in the UK and I haven’t seen it yet despite about twenties trips to the cinema in that time. I just can’t get excited about motion capture. It has its place adding a character to a movie (I’m thinking more Gollum than Jar Jar!), but making a whole film of it, I just don’t get. If you want real life, use actors if you want animation draw it. It doesn’t help that I have never read a Tintin book in my life.

      • What’s crazy about 72%? I feel that’s a pretty high score, especially when considering the high number of films out there clamoring for my attention. Don’t forget that I have a one-year old in the house and don’t get to the theaters near as often as I used to. The last film I saw in theaters was Melancholia, and that was a solid two weeks ago. In addition, I generally take my wife’s tastes and preferences into consideration as well, and I’m sure she has either never or barely heard of Tintin and has little to no interest in seeing it.

        I’m neither supporting the cause nor hurting it, just trying to make an analogy to how I feel the film is being received over here. For a big budget tentpole made by two industry titans, it’s received far less attention than you’d expect, as far as I can tell. So I have to wonder why that is, and have concluded that the lineage is the chief factor (though it could well be just an aversion to mo-cap, as evidenced by Bob Zemekis’ spotty success/failure rate with it, despite the star power he’s brought to his films). Harry Potter is new, and British, and I don’t think Americans as nearly as averse to media matching those two adjectives as they are as something as “foreign” as 1930s Belgium. It’s as if Tintin were a foreign language film that just happens to be in English.

    • That’s high praise for Tintin, Andrew, and I’m glad to hear it. Though, does the character
      s blank slate status mean that they cast the wrong Jumper star in the lead role? And/or what does that say about Bell as an actor – boring?

      • This might be an interesting film for a lambcast I don’t know if its possible to squeeze in but it might be worth trying especially if you go on a Sunday som Mr. Columb can be on it.

        I’m a huge Tintin fan myself but have decided to go on a boycot of the film since I don’t like all the previews I’ve seen. I know its a bit childish but I’d rather re-visit the comic books… =)

  • We don’t get The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo until after Christmas so can’t comment on the film yet. I loved the book (and liked the other two in the trilogy) and thought the original adaptation was really good, especially Noomi Rapace. I can’t make my mind up about making the movie in English with a mostly American/British cast. Given the fact we already have a Swedish version would it have been better to let Fincher adapt the story and set it in an English speaking country. I am a firm believer that films should be adapted from books not religiously copied from the source material. What works on the page doesn’t always work on the screen. We Need To Talk About Kevin is a great example of how a film can be adapted having a completely different structure to the book. Having said all that I fully expect David Fincher to do a good job and the final success or failure of the movie (artistically not commercially) will all rest on how good Rooney Mara and to a slightly lesser extent Daniel Craig are in their respective roles.

    • See, I was releived to hear that it was being set and filmed in Sweden. I don’t really like it when they plop it over here (it likely would have been set in Boston or Seattle or maybe, just maybe Minneapolis) for apparently no reason. It worked fine for Let Me In, I suppose (though I could never figure how New Mexico was supposed to be a frigid place – THAT should have definitely been set in Minnesota), but the actual setting of that story didn’t seem to matter nearly as much as Sweden does to the Millennium series. At least the actors won’t be adopting ridiculous Swedish accents, right?

      • It just makes me think of all the war films with British and American actors playing German or French characters speaking English with their own accent or a silly impersonation of what they think German sounds like.

        Had we not already had a Swedish version I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. As for the relevance of the story to the setting, there was a lot in the book that was watered down or omitted from the Swedish film so I suspect it will be missing from the American one too. Given the economy and the general distaste for banking and big business at the moment I think it could have had relevance set in Britain or America.

        I found Let Me In to be a bit pointless, coming so close after the original and being almost shot for shot, it had nothing to say for itself. As for the New Mexico setting, the movie looked really good. Very different to the New Mexico I have seen, but then I have only been there in the summer.

        • New Mexico certainly can and does get cold, but it was just such a strange place to set Let Me In in, given that the source is friggin’ Sweden. When one thinks of the most frigid states in America, New Mexico is nowhere near the top of the list. What I will give them is that it’s at least pretty desolate in most places. Still…Minnesota! :)

          I definitely hear where you’re coming from – Valkyrie was one of the more recent examples that bothered people. It bothers me, but not nearly as much as a British accent standing in for everyone from ancient Rome and basically any ancient land (see, Prince of Persia). That shit’s just weird. The pseudo-adoption of some non-accent is a bit lame, but oh well – I get why they do it. It just seems to add prestige to what might otherwise be mundane.

      • Some of the actors do use some kind of swedish accent. Rooney Mara for instance but she came off more as Scottish to me.

        Craig refused to and he motivated it by saying that he had spoke to enough Swedes that spoke good enough English.

        • Haha – solid point by Craig. You sure you didn’t talk with him?

          • Sorry to disappoint you but I read that in a Swedish newspaper. Hahaha

            I did walk by him on set though and he is shorter than you think.

            I also helped out escorting his trailer getting to Stockholm which was nerwrecking since its a really high vehicle. I was so afraid we’d take it through a route were it would get stuck.

            Sorry for hijacking the post and reminiscing old shooting stories.

  • Definitely checking out Tintin this weekend. I also want to see The Artist which is finally coming to Minneapolis this Friday as well as Ghost Protocol since it looks like great popcorn fun. Pretty solid end to the year movie-wise!

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