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Posts tagged “David Fincher

Preparing for Prometheus pt. III – Alien 3 (1992)

My contention with the Alien franchise has been that each installment has been about a different sort of fear. The first was the fear of the unknown. That fear of something coming out of the shadows and devouring you. The second was the fear of being overwhelmed. The idea of being swarmed. The third film in the franchise focuses on the fear of desperation and the idea that death is not something that can be overcome.

Alien 3 has a very long and storied history with regards to its production. At one time it was supposed to take place on a desolate wooded planet involving a monastery filled with folks who believed they were living in a post-apocalyptic dark age where technology is shunned and Ripley and the alien’s arrival would trigger internal tensions that would grow alongside the sci-fi horror. That idea was eventually retrofitted into the final product where we got a prison planet filled with religious convicts. The film had multiple directors before the studio brought in first time director David Fincher, who turned in a cut that the brass didn’t quite care for.  Reshoots and creative editing ensued. The theatrical cut is pretty well maligned although I always thought it was a pretty damn good film. The main beef fans seem to have is that the death of fan favorites Newt and Hicks before the end of the opening titles. They contend that such a bold move renders the previous movie worthless. I would argue that it really isn’t a break from what the series is about at all. I read an analysis of the series that the trilogy reads like a treatise on terminal illness. Alien is diagnosis, Aliens is about remission against all odds, and Alien 3 is about accepting the inevitability of death. Some complain that Alien 3 is far too nihilistic when compared to the previous installments, but it is a logical conclusion.

Alien 3 has more in common with Alien than it does Aliens, that much is certain. It is only the overwhelming love of Aliens that sinks Alien 3. The concept is sound, the acting is pretty great all around. Charles Dance is amazing as always and by this point in the series Sigourney Weaver has Ripley’s character down to a science. Fincher’s direction works well with the material and he creates a true sense of dread. The only real downside to the film is the creature FX done with CGI. Anytime the Alien is done practically, it looks menacing and macabre. The CGI creature however is laughable and kills the tension when it appears.

Honestly I would recommend giving the “Assembly Cut” of the film a look. It’s got far more character work than the theatrical print and the finale has far more weight because Ripley’s sacrifice plays better without the addition of the chest burster. That is just my honest opinion.

Film Review – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I am going to begin this review by saying that I started the novel on which this film is based and never finished it. I thought it was poorly written and more than a little dull. Don’t bombard me with hatred over it, it is only a matter of personal preference. I thought, structurally speaking, that it wasn’t very well constructed and it doesn’t deserve the praise that gets heaped upon it. It is a lot like The DaVinci Code in my eyes. A book that garners a lot of attention due to manufactured controversy with the actual content between the covers being average at best.

That having been said, I have seen the original film adaptation and felt that all of the problems with the book were still present on film and that it was highly unlikely that they could be fixed without a major overhaul. When talks of the remake started popping up I wasn’t interested simply because of my problems with the novel and the original adaptation. I figured that a remake wouldn’t help those problems and that the film wouldn’t be worth my time. Then I found out that David Fincher would be involved and that the cast included Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, and Stellan Skarsgard. I was starting to think that perhaps there could be something there of interest to me. I heard rumors that the script by Steve Zaillian deviated quite a bit from the source and that Fincher would be doing a true “adaptation” rather than a direct translation from book to screen. I began to put my trust in a film that I could be forgiven for dismissing.

Then the trailers started to hit and I’ll be damned if it didn’t look like a real Oscar contender of a film. Fincher had seemingly crafted something stunning in terms of texture and mood that hooked me in and really made me want to sit down and watch with an open mind. I went in willing to give the material a fair shot and be proven wrong in regards to my feeling that the story was a dull, plodding mess that strove for intricacy but collapsed under its own sense of grandeur and intrigue.

I will say that this adaptation has mood and texture in spades. It is a well made film. It’s crafted and acted in a way that really is quite amazing. Rooney Mara gives a performance that really showcases her range and subtlety and Daniel Craig does a great job handling the part handed to him. The problem with the film, once again, is that the story is a muddled, dull, and honestly not-that-interesting mess. The narrative is extremely disjointed in the first hour and a half and by the time Craig and Mara finally pair up I had pretty much lost patience with the flow of the story. If someone like Fincher who did such an amazing job weaving the narrative of a film like Zodiac has trouble with something as pedestrian as this you know there’s a problem. The film really did not need to be as long as it ends up being and calling it a slog is being a bit generous. As an acting showcase it’s quite interesting but as an overall film it’s a disaster.

Fans of the novel will probably be pleased with this American adaptation but I can’t muster much excitement about it. I had hoped that Fincher could pull together the parts that did work in the novel and weave them effectively into a manageable film but what he released is a choppy, disjointed, over-long mess and I can’t really say that it was worth the money it took to make with the original Swedish version doing everything this one did. The only difference is a perceived upswing in production value and I do think that Craig did a better job in his part than his Swedish counterpart (who incidentally played the villain role in Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol and didn’t really bring much to the table there either).

Sad to say, this was a real disappointment, even looking through the lens of my initial low expectations. Hopefully Fincher will put out something with the same sort of zing that The Social Network had before getting locked into the sequels for this because I’m almost certain that my sentiments will not be echoed by the majority of people who will see this and consider it cinematic gold.

RATING: 4/10

Academy Awards Liveblog – A Day Too Late

So last night on Facebook I liveblogged the Oscars. Here’s the transcript in an attempt to actually post something today.

Film Review – The Social Network

Profile Picture UpdatedThe Social Network : 9/10

I was going to review this last week, but I feel like it’s hard to review a movie like this one after only on viewing. The first time around you walk out of the movie shocked that you thought it was good and have a feeling like you’ve been duped somehow. That a movie about Facebook shouldn’t be as amazing as the film you just saw. You were so enthralled with Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue and the story that chugs along with the speed of a Japanese bullet-train and you think that your mind has been fooled somehow. That’s why I went back to see it for a second time before reviewing the movie here on the site, because I don’t want to feel stupid when I see it on HBO next year and wonder what I was thinking.

Luckily, I think I got the movie a little bit more on the second pass. It wasn’t any less impressive, as the film truly is a masterwork. The script is perfect, the actors are superb, the score is amazing, the direction is top notch and all of this is to tell the story of a site that basically boils down to an enormous time waster. I didn’t say Facebook is a waste of time, I say it’s a time waster. And there is a difference. Facebook fundamentally changed the social dynamic of friendship for the twenty-first century. It altered the human experience for the so-called “Me Generation” in ways that anthropologists and sociologists will study and pontificate on in a few decades’ time. Facebook is, despite itself, one of the most important inventions of the century and so when people saw that a film was being made about its origins I’m surprised so many people reacted with mockery. When you sit and think about it, it’s been four years since Facebook opened itself up to public registrations after dropping its original college-exclusive format. There will be a whole generation of students who don’t know what high school was like before Facebook if it continues to thrive in the manner that it has since its very beginning. The last person to experience high-school before Facebook graduated in early 2005. I’m thankful I didn’t have to deal with that stuff. MySpace didn’t even really boom in popularity until after I had graduated high school. Social Networking was a non-entity in the years forming my social growth.

So when I say that Facebook is an important element of twenty-first century history, I know what I’m talking about. I don’t want this to be the case because I think the idea of a website being such a substantial turning point in history and the way we function as a society is a bit absurd, but that having been said, I know for a fact what a tool the website can be on many different levels from the personal to the business end of things. We have a fan-page set up on Facebook. The store has one, and we use it to do 80% of our marketing and outreach. It’s  huge. No doubt.

The film shows us in no uncertain terms what Facebook truly means. The script takes careful pains to emphasize how nobody understood what it truly would be worth and that we probably still don’t. While the company has had to deal with a ton of bad press and controversy, it is still going strong and expanding. Games like Farmville rake in upwards of 20 million dollars to their developers per year and new features roll out on a monthly basis. It can keep expanding or it can crash and burn like MySpace did. We don’t know yet.

But as much as the film is about a website that redefined the way a generation looks at its friends, it’s also about the people who built the website and that’s really where the film works. Whether it’s an accurate portrayal or not, the film’s Mark Zuckerberg is an intriguing and interesting character nonetheless. He’s almost genetically engineered to reject friendship and yet this is the man who created a website that changed the way people viewed friendships in fundamental ways. That is the crux of the film and it is enthralling. How Jesse Eisenberg was able to make this person even slightly sympathetic as a character is beyond me, because the script practically begs us to view him as a worthless jerk. Most people do not like being talked down to, but the film spends its running time finding a balance between the Mark who is being talked down to and the Mark who talks down to everyone.

When the awards season rolls around, expect to see a lot of praise heaped on this one. There are not very many times when a film comes together as well as this one did. Mixing all these elements together to form something workable is something only the most talented people could do and David Fincher really knocked it out of the park. He let himself meander a little bit too much with Benjamin Button but here he reigned himself in enough to make something taut and refined. It really is a work of art.

Oh, and because I’m a f##king pig, Brenda Song is smokin’ hot and I would do dirty dirty things to her, even if she were as crazy as her character in this film is.