Extended ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ teaser wows reporters, audiences

If you’re one of those who came away amped up after watching the first, dialogue-free trailer for David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” when it debuted earlier this summer, just wait ’til you get a load of the extended version, which was showcased prior to a special advance screening of the “Straw Dogs” remake In Los Angeles this evening. And I was lucky enough to score a spot in the audience.

As opposed to the first trailer, which featured composer Trent Reznor’s industrial cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (vocals courtesy of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O) playing over a barrage of beautifully-composed imagery and snippets of action, this time around there was more of an emphasis on the actual performers, including stars Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer.

To be honest, I was initially skeptical when I first heard that Mara had been cast as Lisbeth Salander (beating out a slew of other high-profile actresses), if only because the sole movie I’d seen her in up to that point was the ho-hum “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake – not exactly a great vehicle for her to stretch those acting chops, I’ll admit.

But Mara cuts a striking impression in the teaser, and not simply because she looks incredibly cool. Sure, the short butch haircut, nose rings, pale makeup, bleached eyebrows and black wardrobe are an important component of the character, but like original lead Noomi Rapace, Mara demonstrates a real presence on screen (at least in the small amount of footage on hand in the teaser). Indeed, she seems to possess the same potent mixture of brazen intelligence and wounded vulnerability that made Rapace’s portrayal of Lisbeth in the original Swedish trilogy so memorable.

To give you a rough start-to-finish idea of what was in the teaser, it opens with a montage of images (playing under Reznor’s ominous ambient score) that introduces the back-story of Harriet Vanger, a young girl who disappeared from her family home years before and was never seen again. During this montage we are also introduced to Harriet’s uncle Henrik Vanger (Plummer), who tells investigator Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) he believes she was murdered by a member of her own family.

We were then given a brief montage introducing Lisbeth herself, including several allusions to her bisexual orientation. A bit where Craig as Blomkvist forces his way into her apartment and sees a young naked woman waking up in the bed behind her particularly sticks out in my mind.

Later there were a few brief snippets of scenes where Blomkvist interviews both Cecilia Vanger (Geraldine James) and her sister Anita (Joely Richardson) about Harriet’s disappearance, and we learn more about the girl’s tortured religious upbringing.

The final minute and a half or so is similar to the trailer released at the beginning of the summer – a wild montage of explosions and fights and motorcycle chases, etc., all soundtracked to a propulsive composition by Reznor that should more than please fans of his Oscar-winning work on “The Social Network”.

I should mention again that the visuals on display in the teaser (the film was shot with the RED camera) were absolutely breathtaking – not a surprise given Fincher and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s involvement, but a stunning demonstration of what digital cameras like the RED are capable of these days. It should be said, too, that even if the film itself underwhelms, I can’t recall a Fincher movie that didn’t at least look spectacular, and “Dragon Tattoo” appears to be no exception.

Ok, so I’ll admit that I’m gushing. But what I watched was ultimately a  prolonged, expertly arranged advertisement that managed to cater to my senses extraordinarily well. If nothing else, whoever cut that thing deserves an award.

Here’s the original trailer:

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” opens December 21st.