Director: David Fincher Language: English Runtime: 166 minutes Links: IMDB Living an ordinary life backward The third installment in the often gory “Alien” franchise. Two detectives investigating a series of murders inspired by the seven deadly sins. An investment banker who participates in a sick and twisted game. An underground fight club. A mother and daughter hiding in a panic room from three armed robbers. An account of the Zodiac killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s and '70s. If you take a quick look at the filmography of director David Fincher - “Alien 3,” “Se7en,” “The Game,” “Fight Club,” “Panic Room” and “Zodiac” - you'll notice his previous work that deals with mature subject matter isn't something you would classify as tame or harmless. There's no question Fincher is a master at building suspense and shooting visually stunning movies, but I can't blame anyone for thinking he might be out of his element with the magical and sentimental “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which is loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1920s short story about a man who is born old and ages in reverse. But all of those doubts should be thrown to the curb because Fincher has made a film that could and should be considered this decade's “Forrest Gump.” (If you find any similarities between the two movies it's probably because Eric Roth penned both of the screenplays.) That's not to say “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is the most remarkable film of Fincher's impressive career, but it is easily one of the best of 2008 and the narrative sucks you right in and rarely lets go. The entire story of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is told through the movie's framing device that takes place in New Orleans during the moments leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. As the city braces for the worst, an elderly woman named Daisy (Cate Blanchett under heavy makeup) lies in a hospital bed awaiting her imminent death, but before she passes away she feels the need to reveal some skeletons in her closet to her adult daughter, who is played by Julia Ormond. Out comes a tattered journal, thrusting us back in time to 1918 on the last day of World War I, the same night Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was born under some rather unusual circumstances. Benjamin may be the size of an infant, but he has all the features of an 80-year-old, which downright scares everyone in the room. And soon after Ben's mother dies following child birth, his father (Jason Flemyng), who is completely revolted by his appearance, abandons his newly born son on the steps of the New Orleans retirement home. But it doesn't take long before Benjamin is found by Queeny (Taraji P. Henson, who steals every single scene she's in), a loving caretaker who takes him in as if he were one of her own. As the years go by, many people leave an impact on Ben's life as they come and go, including Mike (Jared Harris), a drunken and tattooed tugboat captain who takes him all over the world, and Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton), the seductive wife of a diplomat who dreams of swimming across the English Channel. (Some of the film's more amusing scenes involve a minor character who constantly reminds everyone that he has been struck by lightning seven times.) But the person who holds a special place in Benjamin's heart is Daisy, who first met his acquaintance when he was old and she was a young girl visiting her grandma at the retirement home. Even with their “difference” in age, Ben and Daisy are destined to be together, and it's only a matter of time before they meet in the middle of their lives and follow through on their feelings. Because the film follows Benjamin throughout his entire life as he discovers many people and places along the way, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that Pitt is only in a portion of the scenes, but such is not the case. Fincher has made such tremendous use of today's innovative digital techniques that it actually looks like Pitt's face is hiding behind the wrinkles, spectacles and age spots as Benjamin rolls around in a wheelchair. It could be this modern technology or Roth's moving script, but whatever the case may be, you might find yourself forgetting that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is about an extraordinary fellow with a peculiar aging condition. Sure, you'll never run into someone as unique as Benjamin Button, but after all, he is just a man going through the peaks and valleys of life, and his story is told in such a personal way that it feels like it could be about any normal person experiencing their time on Earth. But I should warn you it takes almost three hours for Fincher to show you all of the things that happened to Benjamin during his existence. For the most part the time goes by pretty quickly, but when the film hits its midpoint there are a few moments when things start to drag a little. And believe me when I tell you that even if you enjoyed “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” as much as I did, it's not one of those movies that you'll be throwing into the DVD player and watching over and over again. Rating: 8 out of 10