Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Review

A couple of days before Christmas, I went to see the new American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (TGWTDT). I'm not going to call this a remake, since it was an adaptation of the book, rather than a remake of the Swedish movie (which I have not seen).

I read the book of TGWTDT back in August, and I have been looking forward to this movie since I heard it announced. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara both do a good job of looking like the characters that I had in my mind as I read the book, Craig pulling off an admirable Blomkvist and completely making me forget about James Bond.

The filming of the movie, the cinematography, captured the brooding environment of the book. Much like in the movie Fargo, they managed to make winter a character in the movie, making you feel the cold and isolation that the characters must have felt. Blomkvist wandering about in a couple of scenes, his hand held out with his cell phone while trying to find a signal really captured this isolation.

Mara does a turn as Salander that is award-worthy. She manages to bring to life the quiet desperation and sometimes torturous existence of her character. The scenes where Salander's new "guardian" shows her how they can "work together" are particularly chilling to see brought to life on the screen.

The music of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross made great measures towards the feel of the movie with their score. The music would often weave in and out of scenes, as characters moved through physical spaces or used electronics. The title sequence cover of Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song (with vocals from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who also did the music from 2009's Where The Wild Things Are) will go down as one of my favorite songs of 2011.

There were a couple of subplots from the book that were dropped from the movie. The subplot dealing with Blomkvist's relationship with one of the Vanger "sisters," as well as the subplot of Millennium's ongoing financial and legal battles, were both dropped from the movie. Admittedly, this was already nearly three hours of screen time but I really think that the plot of Millennium's trials and hassles would have really added to the overall feel of the story, not to mention making you happy for the end that Wennerstrom comes to in the movie. That conclusion seemed a bit too speedily wrapped up, maybe because of the fact that we lost the Millennium subplot.

Regardless, TGWTDT was an excellent movie. It drew me into its fictional world early on and kept me engrossed in what was happening, even though I already knew what would happen from reading the book. I recommend this movie to anyone who likes detective/investigative stories, or to any geek who wants to see a well-made movie and wants to escape from the doldrums of genre movies.

Culture Bully's 2011 Mashed

File this under Music and Mashups. Culture Bully has posted their 2011 Mashed compilation. You can find it here. This incredible production from The Reborn Identity (one of my favorite producers) kicks off the compilation.

The Reborn Identity - Cosmic Lifeforms (Florence + The Machine vs Carbon Based Lifeforms) by The Reborn Identity

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of Bootie 2011

Here is Bootie's Best of Bootie 2011 mashup compilation. This is the continuous mix version. They also have an unmixed version with the individual tracks available.

Best of Bootie 2011 by bootie

Downloads and extras can be found at the Best of Bootie 2011 page. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Review: Marvel's Defenders #1

I will admit that I'm not a Marvel fanboy. This is the first Marvel comic that I have bought since Agents of Atlas was cancelled. Mostly it's a taste issue...the currently in vogue style of storytelling at the House of Ideas isn't what I am interested in when reading a comic book.

That said, I have been a huge fan of the Defenders since I was a kid. I found The Defenders not long after I discovered The Avengers. For me, the appeal of The Defenders has always been that they are the weird and creepy super-heroes, tucked off in a dark corner of the Marvel Universe. This feeling is the foundation on which this incarnation of The Defenders is built. I'm pretty sure that the last book written by Matt Fraction that I read was his run on Iron Fist (who is a character in this book as well). This issue, to me, had a similar tone to those issues, more than just because Iron Fist is a member of this new version of the team. I liked that feel in Iron Fist, and so far I like that feel here in The Defenders.

The Defenders rolls out of the story of Marvel's latest big event, Fear Itself, but so far I have found that reading that event is not necessary for this book. This first story, The Defenders are brought together by The Hulk to deal with a menace from that book that he is responsible for. "Imagine all of my rage...and power and strength and hate -- imagine it taking a shape," is how The Hulk describes this menace to The Silver Surfer.

The portrayals of The Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange are probably most likely to be sticking points for some long-time Marvel fans. The Silver Surfer is shown at his most alien in this issue. I like that. It is nice to see a comic book alien being portrayed as being, well, alien for a change. This isn't just some guy in silver body paint, this is an inhuman, near-cosmic entity that just does not see the world in the same way, or interact with it in the same way, as his more human companions.

While I (surprisingly to myself) liked the new take on Doctor Strange, I'm not sure that everyone is going to like Hipster Doctor Strange. Hipster you say? When asked about his choice of reading material at one point Doctor Strange responds with "It is something very old and rather frightening I'm afraid. I don't think you'd know it." Yes, Doctor Strange read that old book before everyone else, and probably has a copy of it on vinyl as well. The good Doctor is also introduced in a post-coital scene that has been talked about in a negative manner in a few blogs already. Really, it didn't bother me all that much. Back in the day, Doctor Strange was always shown as one of the more sexual of super-heroes, with he and Clea in states of undress and seemingly interrupted during sex more than once in a comic. So, Doctor Strange having a hook-up, or using his "spooky old conjurer" status (as Namor calls it at one point) to try to pick up women is not really all that big of a stretch to me.

I have to add that I like the way that Fraction approaches the unnaturalness of Doctor Strange in this book, as well as his approach to magic. In some pre-publication publicity, Fraction mentioned that he wanted to give Doctor Strange a sort of William S. Burroughs quality in his "been there, done that" approach to the weirdness of the world. So far, I think it is successful.

The story is nothing spectacular, just your standard "let's get the band together" first issue for a team book. Geoff Johns should look at this story as an example of how to actually get all of the characters on the cover together and into the book. There is a lot of Marvel Universe esoterica in this issue, particularly the stuff with Wondagore Mountain. There isn't a lengthy exposition on it's history in the Marvel Universe, which could be good or bad. I think most comics these days assume that the reader will have more than a passing knowledge of continuity and that there aren't going to be many uninitiated readers picking up a book as there might have once been. There is just enough explanation to justify the story.

I think that, all in all, this was a fairly successful first issue that made me want to pick up the second issue when it comes out. I would have liked a bit more of an introduction to the new Red She-Hulk. If I didn't already know about the character it wouldn't have been obvious that she was long time Hulk supporting character Betty Ross. Also, neither Namor or The Silver Surfer were given much introduction as it was assumed by the writer that these characters would be known to readers already. This is probably the most negative that I had about the issue: do a better job of introducing the main characters. I really think that this issues (particularly being a number one) could have used a few more pages of story to get the cast introduced.

This leads me directly to my main negative. There's too many damn advertisements in this issue. Eight pages were given over to ads for other Marvel books (mostly X-Men books) and I think that half of those could have been cut to give a couple of more pages of background on the characters.

However, for me, the positives outweigh the negatives and I enjoyed this book. I will definitely pick up number two and hope that this book finds enough of a readership to keep it on the stands in this rough comics market. The Defenders has been, at best, always a fringe title and I hope this version finds its way.