Red-band trailer for ‘Girl WIth The Dragon Tattoo’ kickstarts online buzz

Yep.  Looks like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

I’m not the biggest fan of the Stieg Larsson trilogy of books, or the original Swedish trilogy of films, but in both cases, I think the strongest entry is the first one.  Even so, when I reviewed the original film, I talked about how I think it’s fairly pedestrian filmmaking that is carried largely by the character of Lisbeth Salander.  I’m not even especially taken with the performance of Noomi Rapace.  I think it’s more a case of a wardrobe doing the work for an actor than anything else.

In short, there has always been room for improvement here, and now that the red-band version of the trailer has leaked online (and, no, I’m not comfortable embedding it or linking to it, but you are an adult who can presumably find YouTube), it’s worth having the conversation about what we might be unwrapping come Christmas-time this year.  If you want to see the best possible version of the trailer, you’ll need to head to the theater, where it’s playing in front of, among other things, “The Hangover Part II” this weekend.

At this point, they’re not even trying to sell the story, and that’s a good thing.  The books have been so omnipresent for the last few years that if you want to know what the story is, you most likely already do, and if you haven’t been curious until now, then selling you the story is not likely to make much different right now.  Instead, the emphasis is squarely on the mood and the imagery, and this is where, already, you can see the difference between hiring Niels Arden Oplev and David Fincher to direct something.

And, look, no offense to Oplev, who did exactly what he was hired to do originally.  These were approached as TV movies, and his background in Swedish television made him an ideal choice for that version.  But there is little about his film that I would call “cinematic.”  It’s a fairly straightforward piece of work, and it misses much of the dark music of that first book.  There’s one moment in the book, as Mikael Blomkvist pieces together a key part of the puzzle, that always read like a movie moment, and in the trailer for Fincher’s film, there it is, milked for maximum visual impact.

I’m still not flipping out about this one, mainly because of my feelings about the books, but it looks like Fincher turned every bit of his considerable visual skill to the talk of turning these into real movies.  I love that the only way you can get someone who can handle the vocal demands of a cover version of “The Immigrant Song” is by hiring a woman, and Karen O gives it her very best Robert Plant howl.  And I give Sony credit for a great tag line:  “The Feel Bad Movie Of Christmas.”  And Steven Zaillian as a screenwriter is another sign that we’re going to get something better than just the same story told again.  Daniel Craig looks great, and Rooney Mara looks suitably bruised and bizarre as Lisbeth.  All in all, it’s an effective teaser, and that’s all it needs to be a full six months out from its release date.

Curious to see how the regular release US trailers look, and when we’ll see an official online release for this, but for now, there’s a lot of buzz in response to this one showing up, and I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be one of the most discussed films of the holiday season this year.

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” will be in theaters December 21, 2011.