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Capone embraces the darkness of David Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

There was a time when it would have seemed absurd that a two-year-old Swedish film was getting an American remake simply because the perception was that hardly anyone in America actually saw the version with those pesky subtitles. But let us not forget that it was only last year when LET ME IN was released only two years after the Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN freaked many of us out in new and exquisite ways. Some, including myself, saw the remake as a slightly better version of the film because the story was better told, while the atmosphere was left largely intact. Enjoying a remake takes nothing away from the original film or the source material. That's an important thing to remember.

So here we are, a year later, and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, a film that most Americans didn't see until 2010, has been remade by no one less than David Fincher, the recent Oscar nominated director of last year's THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Without making any radical adjustments from director Niels Arden Oplev's original film or (from what I'm told by those who have read the book by Stieg Larsson, adapted here by the great Steven Zaillian), Fincher has managed to create a largely faithful, dense mystery peppered with wonderfully realized character (in most cases) and location shooting in wind-swept Sweden that will have your reaching for your scarf and wool cap for fear of frostbite.

Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited magazine writer sued for an expose on a corporation CEO that is likely true, but he couldn't prove it and the result was his losing his life savings. Rather than go back to his job and his relationship with the magazine's editor (Robin Wright) Mikael decides to take a private investigative job for Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), whose largely loathsome family lives on what is essentially a private island filled with home they live in. Henrik is convinced that years earlier, someone in his family killed his beloved niece, and he wants Blomkvist to interview the family, under the guise of writing a biography of Vanger and his company, and others in the town to find out who did this.

In the process of doing a background check on Blomkvist, a private security team hires Lisbeth Salander (a shape-shifting departure for the relative unknown Rooney Mara of THE SOCIAL NETWORK and the recent remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), a computer hacker with a photographic memory and extraordinary powers of deduction. She's also got great swooping punk-rock hair that seems alive and able to adjust to suit her mood.

And Mara's face is endlessly fascinating to observe, from the eyebrows dyed so light they appear to be absent to the strangely positioned facial piercings to her sociopathic range of emotions--cold and detached makes way toward pure rage when she is cornered or attacked, with very little in between. Make no mistake, Noomi Rapace owns the role of Lisbeth like she will never own another character she plays (she certainly doesn't own the gypsy fortune teller character she plays in the new SHERLOCK HOLMES movie), but I'm a huge admirer of the choices that Mara makes in playing this woman whose survival instincts and gift for retaliation are unparalleled. She's not better or worse or the same; she's just different than Rapace, and that's a good place to be.

During the course of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, we meet the sordid members of the Vanger family, including one of the few seemingly reasonable ones, Martin (Stellan Skarsgard), the long-absent Anita (nicely played by Joely Richardson), a rather jovial former Nazi, and other folks that are just plain cruel because they always have been. Let's face it, hiring Skarsgard to be in this movie is a bit of a tell, since we know the guy can get a bit freaky when he needs to, but I never get tired of seeing him work.

But what this film boils down to is getting Mikael and Lisbeth in the same room together (which does take some time), because something about their combined brain power is explosive. It's also perversely fun to watch his hidden desire emerge for something a little less vanilla in his love life, as well as see her need for a hint of kindness in her life begin to balance the pain. To call what Craig and Mara have "chemistry" isn't quite right; it's a deeper bond. They draw power from each other, and in turn feed us.

Director Fincher is known for his visual sonics and intense pushing of actors until they are so immersed in the material that they aren't even acting. I can't imagine what many of the performers in this film had to go through to emerge in this place, but I do feel like Fincher isn't leaning on the visuals as heavily is he often does. I think that works best for this story, which has so many characters, you feel like you need a guide book. What he relies on an impressive amount is his moody, tense score from SOCIAL NETWORK collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (the pair won the Oscar last year, and rightfully so).

So what's missing from THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO? You'll likely leave the film wanting to know more about Lisbeth's history, and for that, you'll have to be patient; the sequels fill in many of those awful details. Fincher leaves the film on an emotional cliffhanger, and I think for him to say he's not sold on doing sequels that we know he'll do is disingenuous. What's going to be interesting about his approach to the next two films will be that it strays from the serial killer genre he helped redefine with SEVEN, and as he always does, Fincher will find elements of the story to latch onto and build upon. DRAGON TATTOO is a hell of a platform to start that building. This film and this world are sometimes ugly, always interesting, and will feed you something you'll want more of. And if you're lucky, you'll come out of this film slightly more damaged than when you went in. That's not a promise, but it's my holiday wish for you.

-- Capone
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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:03 p.m. CST

    Embrace the darkness

    by Xen11

    That's what I've been saying all along.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Happiness is a molested child on a cross.

    by Xen11

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Fuck religion

    by Xen11

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:08 p.m. CST

    I hope to see it tonight!

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    You create your own world, not ("God" = authority.)

    by Xen11

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:11 p.m. CST

    I didn't realize Robin Wright was in this

    by Monolith_Jones

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:19 p.m. CST

    character development with Mikael Blomkvist (minor spoiler)

    by bryrb1277

    I am a big fan of the books. The Swedish Movie did a great adaptation of the first book (The Men Who Hate Women). I was a bit disappointed with how through the three movies they did not even hit the tip of the icberg with the relationships that Mikael Blomkvist gets himself caught up in with multiple female characters from the books. I really hope Fincher does a better job of this. Also in the Swedish adaptation there was barely anthing thing in the movie about her realtionship with her original gaurdian, I hope this is explored as well. I believe both of these are important to later things that happen in the plot.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    xen11 - I'm pretty sure there wasn't a British version

    by Dubster32

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 5:01 p.m. CST

    visual sonics

    by Tristan

    Really? Didn't the CIA experiment with that in the 60s? Man, can't read a review here without a tautology or oxymoron or something.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:05 p.m. CST


    by Lemmys_E_string

    The story was better told in the remake of Let The Right One In? Bollocks.

  • You generalize, you lose.

  • You're here, aren't you?

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Xen is damaged goods.

    by Tikidonkeypunch

    WTF, you sound like someone who got touched by his local priest and now feels like the world owes him something. I can understand being against the institution of organized religion or pedophile priests but theres a nastiness to you that rubs me the wrong way.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Happiness is God Pouring out sweet lil Blessings ALL Over xen11

    by shawn rhoades

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:43 p.m. CST

    Xen11 - I wish I had a happy life like you.

    by TheUltimateMathTeacher

    Wow, dude. Ease up a little. Let people believe what they want to believe. You obviously don't want Christians forcing their dogma on you. What gives you the right to do the same to them?

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:45 p.m. CST




  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:47 p.m. CST

    argh... i was going to wait to see this tomorrow

    by antonphd

    both MI4 and this open tonight and i like to save the best for last, but reading how much people love this is killing me

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:48 p.m. CST

    Xen11 - God still loves you. David Fincher, mathteacher loves you.

    by TheUltimateMathTeacher

    Not in that way. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Read the book. Saw the Swede version. Will most likely watch this on BD. Don't know if I want to mar the holidays with this depressing, but most likely awesome movie.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 6:53 p.m. CST

    Reznor's soundtracks......

    by sinus111

    fucking suck. I'm sick of hearing how brilliant they are, and this is from a longtime fan of his. Compared to his older works, his newer music is so predictable and uninspired it's sickening. His music used to blow me away, now it bores the shit out of me.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 7:28 p.m. CST

    I find it so hard to take reviews on this site seriously

    by justin

    ... with the atrocious fucking grammar. Jesus Christ, fellas, you gotta be able to put two sentences together. At least get an editor to give it a once-over.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 7:31 p.m. CST

    If Capone is man enough to admit it, then so will I...

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    Having read the book and seen both movies, I too thought Let Me In was better than Let the Right One In.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 7:31 p.m. CST

    Xen11: Fuck you you fucking fuck


  • Dec. 20, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST


    by Philip Tolken

    this years little miss sunshine.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 8:30 p.m. CST

    I think Reznor's work on the Social Network was some of the best of his career


    Him and Fincher are a great team, he owns the atmosphere in that film imo. I'm disappointed that this is probably an almost shot-for shot remake of the Swedish film. Seems kind of lazy. I'm not really stoked for this movie. I've seen it already.

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Did she show her tits?

    by GetMeAn18ManFireTeamIn12Hours


  • Dec. 20, 2011, 8:53 p.m. CST

    Another American remake

    by Devilman666

    Another American remake of a great European movie.. Blah Blah Blah fucking bullshit...

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 9:42 p.m. CST

    I'm setting up a threesome with Rooney and Noomi

    by MagicJesus

  • Dec. 20, 2011, 9:43 p.m. CST

    Rooney....Noomi, Noomi....Rooney

    by MagicJesus

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:03 a.m. CST

    Let The Right One In is FAR FAR SUPERIOR than Let Me In

    by Xen11

    Though Chloe Moretz was fucking awesome as the choice for that character.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:42 a.m. CST

    Whoever says that Reznor deserved his Oscar...

    by Johnny T Williams

    Is fucking out of his mind. How To Train Your Dragon and John Powell owned that year. Above all and everything else.

  • How can i trust the opinion of anybody who thinks that LET ME IN is a better movie then LET THE RIGHT ONE IN? I can't. It's even beside the point is LET ME IN is a good movie or not. The fact is, for any right thinking person., the original swedish movie is superior. I have noticed a gradual decline in Capone's capacity to review and understand and appreciate the movie,s but this done it for me. This is the smoking gun that proves it. So far i had been cautious about making such a grand statement about Capone, but now this is it. As if the house made of churches had not been enough!

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:05 a.m. CST

    xen11, the original is a swedish book and movie, silly boy.

    by AsimovLives

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:26 a.m. CST

    Let The Right One In is FAR superior, for just the "pool scene" alone


    The climactic pool scene was done JUST right in the Swedish original, and Matt Reeves ruined it by amping up the violence and the bloodfactor. Leaving most of it to the imagination was the perfect way to go, but Reeves had to show us more. It was perfect the way it was, especially with that horrible Swedish pop song playing on the radio just before it gets kicked into the water. Also, the original has the "rocking boy" left alive in all the carnage, while he still hides his head and rocks, just fucking perfect!

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:55 a.m. CST


    by Jarrete Barnett

    Young Adult wasn't that great. I don't see Charlize Theron's performance getting nominated for anything, much less an Oscar. It wasn't a bad performance at all, but along with the film itself, it wasn't all that impressive, either. Playing a superficially dreadful basketcase doesn't quite garner the same automatic praise and Oscar buzz as, say, a down-syndrome role.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6 a.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    Charlize Theron already has an oscar for a terrific performance. And then a few years later she got another nomination. She doesn't need to prove anything anymore. Certainly not to the academy.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Also, as said in Tropic Thunder, you should never go full retard.

    by AsimovLives

    Though that hasn't hurt JarJarAbrams career. But the point is, actors shouldn't portait realistic depictions of mental illness. In reality, mental pacients are hardly as spectacular as in the movies, with the exception of psycho killers, and even then those tend to be pathetic fucks and not evil masterminds chessplayers. Ralph Fiennes played a perfect depiction of a schizofrenic in David Cronenberg's SPIDER, and he didn't even got a glimpse of a nomination. Never go full retard (except for Abrams, that works for him).

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:32 a.m. CST

    asimovlives ??????

    by IwatchMovies

    I see you are still trumpeting for "Let Me In, Let The Right One In" bore-fest, over-hyped, waste of time, waste of film movies.

  • my apologies.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Write something NEW. Imagination is dead

    by darth nihilus

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Write something NEW. Imagination is dead

    by darth nihilus

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Where's the "embracing" ? Where's the "darkness" ?

    by jazzdownunder

    This isn't a review, it's a plot summary with casting information with a thinly veiled apology to Sweden for undertaking a pointless remake of an already more than good enough movie. Where's the exploration of how/why this version is different ? LTROI and LMI at least had some points of difference in the interpretation - or at least the realisation on screen - of the source material. But from what I've seen so far, American Tattoo is indistinguishable from the Swedish Tattoo, apart from the cast and the spoken language. Certainly the American Tattoo trailer could have been re-dubbed with the Swedish dialog and music and most people probably wouldn't have even realised it wasn't the original! This "review" comes off as a pathetic attempt to justify American Tattoo's existence without having anything actually concrete with which to substantiate itself. "Not worse, not better, just different?" Bullshit. If it's different then you WILL have an opinion as to whether it's worse or better. Otherwise the difference is entirely and utterly superficial. It's still Lisbeth. Just not Noomi. If that's the only difference then seriously, WTF is the point of making a not-different version? Pathetic.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 10:27 a.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    You should change your nick to "ihatemovies", if that's your opinion of the great LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

  • This is defintely not a remake of the Swedish movie but rather an American film adaptation of the immensely popular book. An immensely popular book in America and certainly deserving of its own blockbuster adaptation Stateside. Big difference. In the case of 'Let the Right One In', even though it is based on a book, a little known book, the American version is definitely a remake of the Swedish film.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 10:46 a.m. CST

    I've thought the original Swedish version was a bit on the pedestrian side, and

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    I think Entertainment Weekly may state the difference between the two versions succinctly..."That (opening) fanfare lets you know that the movie is going to have a sensuality and danger that the 2009 Swedish screen version, dutifully effective as it was, did not. "..and.."Larsson's plot is nothing more (or less) than a clever conventional whodunit festooned with glimmers of depravity. Fincher, however, teases out the full mythological grandeur of the material. He's not just a great director — he's an artist with the eyes of a voyeur" Well, those two statements speak volumes as to why the two versions exist, and why Fincher's maybe the better of the two.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Saw it last night...

    by Phloton

    While it was certainly well made, it was ultimately pointless. Watch the original. The only thing Rooney brought to Lisbeth was a better ass.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST

    menstruatingheart: no difference at all...

    by jazzdownunder

    Matt Reeves said repeatedly that Let Me In was based on the _novel_, not the Swedish film, which would explain why he didn't include things that the Swedish film did - if he was remaking the movie those things would have been there. But he was working from the novel and so went thru the same process of choosing what to include and how to interpret it as Alfredson, with slightly different results. i.e. _exactly_the_same_ as the two Tattoo's. But "remake" isn't arbitrary and arguably is more accurate. Make a novel into a film once and then do it again... the novel it has been re-made into a (different) movie. But I think it's pointless arguing about whether "remake" is the right term or not. And if that really is the only thing worth discussing then - again - it begs the question why does the 2nd version even bother to exist ?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    Or maybe americans are too obsessed with cliché storytelling that they can't handle a movie from abroad like Sweden, who are not as obsessed with slavelishly following all the by-the-numbers plot points that supposedly movie stories should have, according to american understanding of storytelling.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:43 a.m. CST

    openthepodday: No volumes are spoken

    by jazzdownunder

    The real question is whether there is any mythological grandeur in the source material. Bottom line is that from the trailer at least the film looks indistinguishable from Oplev's adaptation. And there's a key point... EW somehow compares the two films by referencing _Larsson_ and Fincher, not _Oplev_ and Fincher. Oops. The marketing machine is frantically working here to convince the people that didn't yet bother watching the original movie - despite loving the book - that there is now another reason/excuse to go watch the movie. i.e. that they won't have to remember their words and letters and read some subtitles. Poor things. Instead they will get English/American actors shoe-horned into a Scandinavian setting. At least with Let Me In, Reeves relocated the movie to an English speaking locale so that that aspect at least made sense.

  • Or they are influenced by the studio dole. Matt Reeves doesn't deserve the right to suck the puss out of a hairy pimple on Tomas Alfredson's frozen Swedish ass.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 12:31 p.m. CST

    best score this year: Contagion!

    by FleshMachine

    reznor deserveed it last year..but contagions score struck me far more than the film itself.

  • that Fincher's had a "sensuality and danger that the 2009 Swedish screen version..did not", and called the book a "clever conventional whodunit" that Fincher elevated. Your quote.."And there's a key point... EW somehow compares the two films by referencing _Larsson_ and Fincher, not _Oplev_ and Fincher.".....oh really? Hey, I haven't seen Fincher's version. I may come away unimpressed. But its hard to ignore any film from a director of his stature. There may be those that say Fincher has already made his Tattoo Girl...and it was called Zodiac. That is the film this should be compared to, IMO.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:38 p.m. CST

    so many wannabe intellectuals on this site

    by Raskolnikov_was_framed

    just because a movie is in a different language doesn't automatically make it better...the Swedish GWTDT was movie of the week quality...Noomi was great but it looked like it was shot by a film school senior for his thesis was just entirely amateurish in its execution...Let The Right One In didn't suffer from this, it was made extremely well, but so was Let Me In...there is nothing wrong with telling the story again in English in order to have more people see the thing. I preferred the performances in Let Me In more than LTROI mostly because of Chloe...but the movies themselves are about equal in my estimation. Now I have no problem watching films with subtitles...but you cannot connect with a film the same way if you have to concentrate on the subtitles...the great things about most movies are the subtle choices by the actors, maybe in facial movements or expressions and you miss a lot of that if you don't speak the same language...and with Fincher's GWTDT, anyone who says that the Swedish film was superior is just blowing smoke and trying to claim some place on the alter of "I'm More Cultured Than You" people like that can fuck right off

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Russian Ark is a good example of this

    by Raskolnikov_was_framed

    movie is extremely emotional but it took me until my 5th viewing to know the dialogue and story well enough that I didn't have to even look at the subtitles I could just concentrate on the visuals and become entirely lost in the emotional journey through Russian History...but it took a while

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 2:22 p.m. CST


    by Randy

    The Swedish film was so far from perfect, it had good material and a great performance, that was really it. Fincher is just a much better filmmaker, his film looks, feels and flows better in every way, he's a master. Now with Let the right one in, Alfredson is a better director than Matt Reeves, at least for right now.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST


    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    Let me second my agreement. Point for mutha f'n' point.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 4:24 p.m. CST

    Awe. The poor Fincher fanatics are feeling butthurt.

    by Jay

    And here comes the tried and true formula of trashing the original as though it somehow makes "your" version (Because that's what you think it is) better. Can we say desperate? Let me predict the future. In a few years Richard Fleischer will be called a hack. James Mason & Kirk Douglas will be called poor actors. And the original 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea will be called amateurish. I had such hope for Fincher after Zodiac. Another "auteur" bites the dust...

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:34 p.m. CST

    bantuwind, go troll somewhere else

    by sunwukong86

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST

    YOU LOST ME...

    by johnnyrandom

    ...when you said you thought Let Me In was superior to Let The Right One In. Sacrilege.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Please tell me I'm not the only one...

    by Manatee

    Who thought Reznor and Ross's score to TSN was lame. I kept waiting to be impressed by it, but it never happened. I'm sure it's great and I'm just a musical cretin, but it sounds like repetitive ambient noise to me.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:20 p.m. CST


    by Johnny T Williams

    You're not the only one, nor a musical cretin. Reznor's "score" IS just annoying ambient noice.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:21 p.m. CST


    by Johnny T Williams

    My bad.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 12:51 a.m. CST


    by jim jam


  • Dec. 22, 2011, 12:54 a.m. CST

    you're a fucking dick man

    by jim jam

    i hope no one who hasn't read the book reads this. fuck you.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 12:57 a.m. CST


    by jim jam

    thought i could directly hit someone up. i was talking to "darth nihilus"

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 5:39 a.m. CST

    No prometheus trailer at my showing, only 21 jump street

    by Rebel Scumb

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 5:44 a.m. CST

    Hard for me to judge the movie objectively...

    by Rebel Scumb

    I read the book, and I think I went in wanting both a faithful adaptation AND the usual revelatory joy of a new Fincher film. Didn't occur to me that those 2 things are mutually exclusive. I do think it was a fine adaptation, even with the changes (though can't for the life of me figure out why they gave away the mystery of book2 in movie1) but since I knew everything that would happen I couldn't really enjoy it just as a movie unto itself, was more just going through the checklist mentally that they were getting everything right. I do think Rooney Mara was great as Lisbeth, though I figured Fincher would have CGIed away her tits until the end when (in the book) she gets a boobjob. Seems like the kind of visual effect he would use (like the twins effect in Social network). But since they didn't go the flatchested Lisbeth from the book route I suppose it didn't matter. Overall I suppose it was very good, I just felt underwelmed while watching it, but had more to do with me than the movie I think. I just don't think the material lends itself to a film adaptation very much anyways, it's all about research, which can be very compelling in a book but hard to present in a film.

  • Especially since the next shot after was Daniel Craig I kept thinking 'in some bizarro nightmare world this is how the new bond movie starts'

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 6:22 a.m. CST

    Rebel Scumb: Absolutely! I was half expecting...


    ...following the closing credits: "The End of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Lisbeth Salander Will Return In The Girl Who Played With Fire"

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 7:06 a.m. CST

    The original film blew me away

    by proevad

    From the trailer, looks like David just put more snow on the island and did a scene by scene reshoot. Doesn't make any sense for him to remake this--not like a trilogy of these films is going to make a shit ton of money.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 12:38 p.m. CST

    She is not a sociopath

    by rahtard

    The books clearly state she has Asperger's syndrome. If she was a sociopath she would not have carried out that whole subplot caper at the end. So thanks, between Southpark's bullshit and you calling an Aspie a sociopath, its safe to see why people will always discriminate against us.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Not a remake, not a remake...

    by Jason

    ...not a remake. Thought this ought to be highlighted as it's incorrected state by many users on this board. It's a fresh adaptation from a BRAND NEW screenplay. Not a remake. Bring on Fincher's version, I say. A great director who's welcome to adapt any story he wants to. Filmmakers of his style and calibre are few & far between.