In a surprising turn of events, many online movie critics are calling The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button so-so. David "Fight Club" Fincher's film follows a man's life as he ages backwards through time, and was hailed as the new Oscar darling even before an English trailer debuted. Now the film, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, is getting the cursed sigh of indifference from bloggers. Could the so-so footage be a result of Fincher's supposed dust-up with the studio after a throw-down with Paramount over the movieHeavy Metal?David Fincher screened Benjamin Button footage at the Telluride Film Festival. First Showing said although the footage looked amazing, "Button was confusing and very long. " Calling editing on the clips "disjointed," the critic explained, "The result was quite unimpressive, but I'm left wondering whether it was the editor to blame for this 20 minute cut or whether the film really has problems." Slashfilm also echoed concern, writing:
The footage I screened tonight was met with disappointment and concern. There are moments of magic and wonder, but interrupted and surrounded by moments which had me questioning, Is this really the best footage he has?
Maybe the mess is to do with Paramount lighting up the infamous Fincher defiance streak by refusing to greenlight his next project, a remake of animated feature Heavy Metal, unless he trimmed that fat on Button. An interview with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's co-creator Kevin Eastman at Playlist confirms the big f-off from Fincher to Paramount. Eastman says:
They were at odds with Fincher over another project, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ they wanted him to reduce the running time… and so they said, ‘Until you step up to do what we want you to do with Benjamin, we’re not going to greenlight any other of [your] movies.’ And David said, ‘Fine, fuck you, I’m going to set up [Heavy Metal] somewhere else,’ so we jumped over to Sony and set it up there.
Therein lies the dilemma with Fincher: Tell him how to do his job and he'll tell you where to stick it, and I'm willing to bet he's right most of the time. But the complaints of "dragging" in the new film may mean he should have heeded studio concerns. The critics are being careful not to judge the movie outright, and I say wait until the final cut — because it's Fincher. We're talking about the man who brought us Fight Club and Seven. Even his worst films are still popcorn-worthy. I think Fincher films are the kind of things you have to see all at once. You can't have a little taste like a clip reel or you're missing out on the full effect. I'm still excited to see the really old baby man that Fincher and Pitt are creating. This film might turn out to surprise us in the end.