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402 out of 548 people found the following review useful:
Exceptional; improves upon an already fantastic film, 13 December 2011
Author: chrismsawin from United States
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a rather large fan following and
for good reason. The 2009 Swedish film is incredibly solid and
well-acted with just the right amount of wrong. The two sequels that
followed had their own uphill battles (switching directors, lower
budget, etc) and weren't necessarily bad, but just failed to capture
that raw emotional tenacity the original film offered. When news of a
remake began making the usual rounds, there was a fairly large uproar
amongst the internet community (isn't there always?), especially when
it was announced Noomi Rapace wouldn't be returning as Lisbeth
Salander. Most American remakes aren't directed by David Fincher though
and while it isn't vastly different in comparison to its Swedish
counterpart, Fincher has at least improved upon what was already a
fantastic piece of cinema.
The opening of the film was a bit unexpected. "The Immigrant Song" cover by Trent Reznor and Karen O plays over these really fluid visuals that are a bit hard to describe. Imagine the T-1000 from Terminator 2 made of motor oil or tar instead of metal and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It was just very different from other film credits from the rest of the year while also being very sleek, very stylish, and very David Fincher.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is extremely dialogue driven, so be prepared for a lot of talking. It feels very similar to Zodiac in that sense yet more captivating. Even though I had seen the original film and knew most of the major plot points, I still found myself getting sucked into the story. Even if you hate this version of the film and your loyalty remains firmly with the Swedish film, you can probably at least agree that Fincher's version is visually the better of the two. The cinematography is just brilliant. You've gotten teases in the trailers, but the coldest winter in 20 years for Sweden looks so bloody fantastic on screen; the amazing scenery, those long drives through the snow, feeling like you're on the back of Lisbeth's motorcycle as she roars through a tunnel, and the inner shot of a plastic bag among many other things. The film is just a joy to look at from beginning to end.
The score is also just as brilliant as the one for The Social Network, if not slightly better. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross seem to explore territory they didn't get to explore on The Social Network score. This one seems to feature more out of tune instruments, which is an interesting touch. The score hints at rising tension throughout the film always making you feel like there's always something else to the story lurking around the corner waiting for the right moment to strike. It's haunting, unnerving, and just spectacular overall.
Noomi Rapace was an exceptional Lisbeth Salander and with that said so is Rooney Mara. Just the amount of devotion she put into the role with the piercings being genuine, bleaching her eyebrows, cutting her hair, learning how to ride a motorcycle, using a very convincing Swedish accent, coming off as being just as messed up as her appearance lets on, and being completely nude is an incredible accomplishment. It's not out of the question to believe that a role this physical could get her nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards. The entire cast just seems like they fit their roles a bit better than they did in the Swedish film. This is one of the only performances of Daniel Craig's I can actually say I enjoyed while Stellan Skarsgård is just wonderfully demented. Then there's Yorick van Wageningen that's just downright despicable as Nils Bjurman. It doesn't seem like it's something as simple as "oh, you're showing favoritism towards a remake because it's in English now." That isn't the case at all. Fincher's attention to detail to the source material is practically Kubrick-like. It shows in every frame of the film.
Fincher's version also seems to feature a lot more of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander being together. They have more sex and they're featured together more on-screen in comparison to the Swedish version. It was a nice addition that made the slightly altered ending a lot more impactful. The whistling doors in Martin's house were also amazing. I can't recall if that was in the Swedish version or not, but it brought a smile to my face with how something so small meant so much.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is obviously not going to be for everybody. It relies on extremely long discussions to drive most of the two and a half hour duration of the film. In between though, it becomes difficult to watch mostly with how Nils Bjurman handles giving Lisbeth more money and her response. Lisbeth's response will more than likely have you tiptoeing out of the theater as delicately as possible since you'll still be feeling it. With a phenomenal cast, incredibly rich cinematography, a brilliant score, and Rooney Mara's best performance to date, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not only an improvement over the original but easily one of the best films of the year.
295 out of 444 people found the following review useful:
Despite claims to the contrary, a necessary re-interpretation of the story, 27 December 2011
Author: jlars777 from United States
After the announcement that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was getting
an English-language film treatment, I decided that the hype had built
up to a point where I just had to read the source material for myself.
Though it is not without flaws, Dragon Tattoo is an excellent story
with the important mission of raising awareness concerning violence
against women. Mere days after finishing the book I watched the Swedish
film. The hype train had me excited for an outstanding thriller.
The hype train let me down.
I was left cold and somewhat irritated by the Swedish adaptation. A ton of important plot elements were left out, some were inexplicably added (Blomkvist's memories of the island became far too important and contrived), and Rapace felt all wrong as Lisbeth. She was brilliant and violent, but lacked the quiet pensiveness of the original character. She did not come off as autistic and emotionally disturbed, just bratty and rude. Worst of all, I was constantly confused by the extremely rushed, strange new take on the story.
As a lover of foreign films, I normally grind my teeth when I hear that America is developing a remake. However, I found myself desperate for this one. I needed a movie that actually gave me the experience of reading the book for the first time, that made me care for Lisbeth and that truly disturbed me. Thankfully, the American adaptation (not a remake) delivered exactly what I was looking for. Those who say this version is unnecessary or a rehash must have seen a very different Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo than I saw. The American take is jam-packed with scenes that were either skimmed or completely left out of the Swedish version. Yet, despite being more robust, the English- language Dragon Tattoo is incredibly paced, feeling less rushed yet hitting all the important plot points. The characters have time to develop and grow on you, the clue-finding makes more sense, and the killer is more horrifying. Screenwriter Zaillian knows exactly what to leave out and what to change (though the ending, which mirrors the book's ending, could have been arranged better). Craig, Mara, and even Plummer are spot-on in their roles and feel more fleshed-out as characters. Mara, in particular, inhabits Larsson's Lisbeth in a way Rapace did not. She captures Lisbeth's silent, borderline-autistic nature perfectly. Her fragile body and alien appearance even match the book's description. She allows herself to be vulnerable, but clearly regrets it over time. It's a captivating performance.
If someone were to ask me, personally, which version to see, I would have to say without hesitation that this is the rare occasion where the American adaptation is superior. I did not think it was possible to stay so true to the story under three hours.
278 out of 436 people found the following review useful:
The best adaptation imaginable with an intoxicating, Oscar-worthy performance from Rooney Mara, 18 December 2011
Author: lbabe29 from United Kingdom
Chilling, haunting and relentlessly thrilling, director David Fincher
has created the definitive film adaptation of Larssons best seller
whilst at the same time improving on the source material. A brilliant
performance from Rooney Mara only elevates the film to greater heights
Ill cut to the chase: this is everything fans of the books could have hoped for, its miles better than the already good Swedish film, its more faithful to the novel, in some places it actually improves on the source material.
With "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" David Fincher has put his trademark darkness to fantastic use. Whether its sweeping shots of freezing, snow covered Sweden or wonderfully eerie interiors Fincher creates an unsettling atmosphere that is unrelenting and technically perfect. With Fincher i've learnt to expect a beautifully shot film and this is no exception, within this film are some of his greatest images. Regarding the disturbing nature of some scenes, Fincher is wise enough to show them in all their horror but doesn't stop to linger or exploit.
The performances are perfect all round, Its clear Fincher and the casting production went to great lengths to pick not only great actors but those who embody the very essence of their characters. Of note in the supporting characters are Yorick van Wageningen who plays the sadistic Bjurman with unsettling believability and the always great Christopher plummer who is note-perfect as the desperate, loney grandfather Henrik .- As one part of our central duo Daniel Craig puts in his finest performance, normally cast as the tough hero Craig is more subdued here, he has Blomkvist easy charm down to a T but also captures the weak, submissive aspect of his character. - Lisbeth Salander is a character unlike anything fiction has ever seen .broken,pierced, clade in leather with short black hair and a body so slight the wind could break her, she is horribly victimised but refuses to be one. To sum it up she is one of the most interesting and difficult characters an actress could ever play. I could honestly write a whole review on the brilliance of Rooney Mara's performance, she is the very essence of Lisbeth as if the character just walked off the page. Mara commands every scene with a mixture of silent burning rage and a deep rooted venerability. Her eyes are the heart of the film, her reactions are the reason myself and the others around me laughed, gasped and even cried. The character requires an actress who can internalize her emotions yet at the same time convay a wide range of feelings. Mara does this such perfect skill, every glance is charged with deep feeling as if you're looking directly into her soul. A brave performance, Mara bares all in the nude scenes and goes to frankly horribly dark places in the now informous scenes of sexual violence. Watching Rooney Mara is witnessing the birth of a star, this is the best performance of the year and if the Oscars fail to reconzie her i will lose all hope in their judgment.
The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is perfect, eerie and unsettling. It is as good as their Oscar winning score last year if not better, its more understated and does what every score should do....improves the scenes not overpower them.
This is by and large a perfect adaptation, my main issue lay with one singe sequence. There is a shot that seems to be there solely for the purpose of showing off, it serves no real purpose within the story.
The most touching scenes of the film come from the characters themselves, this is a character driven story and none are more powerful than Lisbeth and Mikeal themselves. Fincher makes their relationship the focus and it pays off, they are the heart of the books and Fincher rightfully recognises this.
Proving that sometimes "american" adaptations can actually be for the better this is a film nobody should miss...its everything the novel is, plus some. More than anything i was impressed by the humour that is added through-out, this film will make you laugh, it will break your heart and it will make you want to take a shower.
210 out of 323 people found the following review useful:
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Another Winner From David Fincher!, 22 December 2011
Author: eytand94 from United States
The lights dim, the movie begins with a brief prologue, and the zany
and incredibly weird opening credits begin, set to a creepy cover of
Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." From the beginning, we are in for a
wild ride as Stieg Larsson's incredibly popular novel "The Girl with
the Dragon Tattoo" is brought to life on screen.
Scorned journalist Mikael Blomkvist is called upon by Henrik Vanger, a very wealthy man, while writing a book. Vanger is in search of an answer to the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, which occurred over 40 years ago. He assumes that Harriet is dead, and that she was murdered. He looks to Mikael to investigate her disappearance and who killed her. Then Mikael gets assistance from Lisbeth Salander, a dangerous but intelligent 24 year-old punk who is an accomplished computer hacker and a great contribution to the solving of other crimes. Together, Mikael and Lisbeth go on a dark, eerie journey into a world of crime, Nazism, and corruption that will lead them to Harriet's assassin.
I walked into "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" with almost no knowledge of Larsson's novel or the Swedish film made a few years before David Fincher's version. The end result is ultimately an extremely satisfying, brutal, and complex thriller thanks to great direction by Fincher (known greatly for his work on "Seven," "The Game," and "The Social Network"), excellent writing, and an impeccably chosen cast.
After only a few years, the character of Lisbeth Salander has become an attention-grabbing heroine that is as iconic as Edward Cullen of the love-it-or-hate-it "Twilight" series. And we can understand why. After all the truly awful and hideous things that have plagued her life, Lisbeth doesn't take any crap from anybody. She may be angry, violent, overtly sexual, demanding, and perhaps a little crazy, but she is a genius at what she does, and has reasons for all of her actions, no matter how gruesome they may be.
The mystery surrounding the film is sophisticated and white-knuckling, adding to the intensity and mood of the story and its characters. We're not sure of who is Harriet's killer, or if Harriet is even dead, until the last half hour of the film, and when we do find out the twist, it leaves a stupendous impact.
After cementing his reputation in brutal crime thrillers, and surprising us with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Social Network," David Fincher was the right man for the director's chair. Every film he makes, even a drama like "The Social Network," sets up a tone of genuine suspense, tension, and fear for the characters. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" isn't any different as Fincher adds his signature touch to the movie.
Of all of the people they could have chosen to play these roles, the casting director landed in a pot of gold. Daniel Craig does a wonderful job as Mikael, showing us that he can play characters other than James Bond. With the amount of screen time she has, Robin Wright is also very good as Blomkvist's business partner Erika Berger. Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård also turn in great performances as Henrik Vanger and Martin Vanger.
The person to really watch out for, however, is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. Getting her big break in the underrated remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and later starring in Fincher's previous film "The Social Network" (giving a dynamite performance in the opening scene), Mara has sealed her future with many more promising and exciting roles because of her portrayal of Lisbeth. This is not an easy role to play, knowing that Mara is the second person to play the character. She must endure two shocking rape scenes and a torture sequence, and there is a hefty amount of nudity involved. Mara embodies Lisbeth, immediately bringing immense intimidation, danger, and fury every time she comes on to the screen. Her eyes are wide and emotionless, almost as if you can see right through her. And with everything that has happened to the character, we understand that Lisbeth has a right to be that way. She may be smart, but she is not interested in attraction or friendships with another human being. Overall, Mara gives a sensational, fearless, dedicated, and electrifying performance that guarantees an Oscar nod.
Being released during the cheery time of the holidays, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is not a feel-good film, by any means. It is a harsh, gritty, and rough cinema trip that answers the question of leaving the kids at home with the babysitter. Also, if you're squeamish, you will not like it. However, those who have read the book, and those who have not read it, should check it out. Even without having read Larsson's novel, I left the theater completely satisfied. It is a movie experience that you don't commonly get. Fincher has done it again. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a must!
148 out of 202 people found the following review useful:
She's Not as Interesting as Her Swedish-Speaking Counterpart, 21 December 2011
Author: Chris_Pandolfi from Los Angeles, CA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching the original Swedish version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," I was actively engaged with its dual story lines, but I also found myself pondering which of the two was the more important. Now that David Fincher has made an English-language remake, I find myself pondering what went wrong. Here is a mystery thriller so cold, so distant, and so lacking in energy that it feels neither mysterious nor thrilling. It follows the plot of the original film fairly closely, and yet it makes a number of small changes that drastically affect its credibility. I'm also stumped by the curious decision to retain the Swedish setting. If you have gone to the trouble of casting English-speaking actors, it seems only fitting that you should change the story's location to somewhere more appropriate, say America or Britain. Adapted from the novel by Stieg Larsson, the title is a description of goth chick Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an emotionally walled-off computer hacker who works for a security company. In the original film, we got only scraps of her back story, and yet just enough was given to pique our interest. We were challenged to read her. Who was she? What had she gone through? What led up to a disturbing watershed moment seen only in flashback? In this remake, her back story doesn't even amount to crumbs. That watershed moment is altogether removed, as is a significant chunk of her family history. Because of this, we're no longer compelled to probe her mind, to try and understand why she is the way she is. All we see is a girl in her early twenties in serious need of an attitude adjustment. She was hired to investigate a former reporter turned magazine publisher named Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who lost a libel case against a powerful billionaire. Although he must pay a serious amount in damages, he insists that he was set up. Lisbeth is inclined to agree; her investigative work turned up nothing incriminating. Not long after the trial, Mikael is hired by a man named Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff) on behalf of his employer, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the former CEO of a family industry. Now retired on a family-owned island off the mainland, he asks two things of Mikael: To write a memoir about the Vanger clan and to investigate the case of his great-niece, Harriet, who disappeared in 1966 when she was only a teenager. Henrik is convinced she was murdered, and that her killer is a member of his family, with whom he does not get along. Needing an assistant, Mikael is directed towards Lisbeth, who has just worked her way of a particularly nasty situation with her new guardian, a sadistic sexual pervert (Yorick van Wageningen) who kept strict control of her finances. As she and Mikael dig deeper into the mystery, they must make sense of a series of numbers Harriet wrote in a notebook, all of which are paired with initials. What do they mean? How do they connect to a series of murders spread across time and distance, all involving young women? And in what way does Henrik's family factor in? Watching the original film, I anxiously awaited the moment the mystery would be solved. That's because, as contrived as it was, there was at least the sense that the filmmakers were interested in their own material. The same cannot be said about this new film. There's no urgency about it. I think much of the blame rests on the updated screenplay by Steven Zaillian, which awkwardly intertwines dark and twisted scenarios with an undercurrent of dry wit. When Henrik first meets Mikael, for example, we find that the former is almost jovial – not at all appropriate given his sad situation. Certain scenes from the original film were intense, and yet they always felt as if they were character driven. That's not the case here; most of the intense scenes, including when Lisbeth spontaneously decides to have sex with Mikael, are overproduced, as if the intention was to be sensational. The most glaring misfire is the inclusion of a stray cat. I don't need to spell out what happens to it. I will say, however, that this plot device is so overused that it has long since ceased to be symbolic. Now it's just cruel and disgusting. Little touches, such as Mikael's affair with his magazine coworker (Robin Wright) and his relationship with his religious teenage daughter (Josefin Asplund), contribute absolutely nothing to the story apart from a surplus of characters. And then there's the ending, which is really more of an epilogue as it involves events unrelated to the case of Harriet Vanger. In the original film, it was a brief couple of scenes that tied up a few loose ends. Here, it goes on much longer than it should. I'm usually the first to give remakes the benefit of the doubt. It's certainly not my style to make endless comparisons between old and new versions of the same story. But in the case of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," I just can't help myself. I'll make this easy on you: See the original instead of the remake. Quite simply, the original is better. -- Chris Pandolfi
132 out of 191 people found the following review useful:
Another Disappointing American Remake, 31 December 2011
Author: llsee from New Mexico
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I checked the spoiler box, but I find it hard to believe that anyone
interested in this movie has not read the book, or seen the Swedish
version. And, frankly I can't understand the glowing reviews from
critics and praise for Rooney Mara's performance. Did they read the
book, or see the Swedish version? First the good. I did like the ending
better than the Swedish version. It was closer to the book, and
necessary to set up Lisbeth's antagonism toward Bloomkvist in the
second book. But I wonder if they were even thinking about a possible
second film, because they dragged at least 2 key scenes from the second
book into this film, one being Lisbeth's confrontation of Bjurman about
the possible tattoo removal.
Now for the bad. As created by Larsson in the book, and as portrayed by Noomi Rapace in the Swedish version, Lisbeth was an angry, fearless outsider, determined to live life on her terms. As portrayed by Mara, Lisbeth is a waif, unable to cope with life, making her outbursts of violence both puzzling and unexpected. In the book, it is clear that Lisbeth was the stronger character, but that's not the way Mara portrays her. That is the crux of the problem with this movie, and probably the reason for the glowing reviews. A waif-like Lisbeth is much less threatening to the male reviewers, than a strong fearless one.In the book, Lisbeth took charge in tough situations, she certainly didn't need to ask permission from Bloomkvist. The portrayal of Lisbeth, as directed by Fincher, and as portrayed by Mara, is a huge disappointment, and not true to the character in the book at all.
There were other missteps in this version as well. Daniel Craig seemed removed and dis-interested. He seemed to be walking through the performance giving little emotion. Maybe Craig just can't play a role that makes him subordinate to a woman, or maybe Fincher can't conceive of a film like that. In the Swedish version, Bjurman was a frightening character who exuded an aura of threat. In contrast, the character of Bjurman in Fincher's movie seemed more of an overgrown adolescent, who relished his position of authority.
Both versions played freely with the time-line of the book, and by dropping or including different subplots. But, the dropping of the "Kalle Bloomkvist" nickname that was so prominent in the books is curious. Again, Lisbeth used it as an ironic nickname to express her disdain for Bloomkvist, something that the waif Lisbeth couldn't do. Granted it didn't play as big of a role in the first book, but if you were thinking of a trilogy it was needed to set up the later films. I also didn't understand the inclusion of a daughter for Bloomkvist. It served no purpose, and was not in the book.
Overall, if you are a fan of the book, and liked the way Lisbeth was imagined by Larsson, you will be disappointed by the movie. If you feel threatened by a strong independent woman, then you will appreciate the way Fincher has castrated his version of Lisbeth. This was not as good as the Swedish version, which presented a film much closer in tone to the book.
148 out of 230 people found the following review useful:
Quick Comparison of both versions - both excellent in their own right, 22 December 2011
Author: hyprsleepy from Saint Louis, MO
Here is a rundown of the differences in the two movies:
American - Blomkvist is played as more of a tough guy and not a good guy. His flaws are laid bare and he shows himself to be much more detached than emotional.
Swedish - This is the "good guy" side of Mikael. He is sensitive, caring, and smart. He shows a protective side when it comes to Lisbeth. Physically speaking the Swedish Blomkvist doesn't look as sturdy as his American counterpart. He has a gut and appears to be quite a bit older than Lisbeth which can make the relationship between them more shudder inducing and probably accounts for why there are fewer sex scenes between them in the Swedish version.
American - Perhaps because Blomkvist was made into such a strong character Lisbeth was then morphed into a more withdrawn and vulnerable girl so as to complement the new Blomkvist. She still has attitude, aggression, and rage but she also exhibits a quiet shy side that was not in the original as well as more of a romantic side.
Swedish - In this version Lisbeth is not shy, not gentle, and not nice. She doesn't chase Blomkvist - he chases her. She perfectly embodies everything you think of when you think of a strong female lead and has an unpredictability and edge to her that is exciting to watch. Her dragon tattoo is much, much better.
I liked the American Mikael and the Swedish Lisbeth.
While I may prefer a scene or two from the Swedish version, such as the ending, overall I enjoyed the American version more.
On the flip side, I can understand why some may hate this version because Lisbeth was their favorite character and she's been changed into something they don't like. For me, the modifications to Lisbeth's character weren't severe enough to put me off.
The Swedish version captured a cult following for a reason and I would recommend both to anyone who has an interest in darker gritty movies that have a raw intensity to them. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn't for the faint of heart and that's what I love about it!
108 out of 155 people found the following review useful:
Dangles the carrot but doesn't deliver, 22 December 2011
Author: aliensbishop from Seattle, Washington
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David Fincher's remake of TGWTDT has enough to keep the film steady on
its feet, but lacks a horde of specific qualities from Oplev's
Firstly, in a basic mystery story, there is a need to present a series of twists and discoveries that lead to solving the mystery. Fincher's film fails to present this trail of bread crumbs in the same enticing way that Oplev's did. Instead, we get a fast forward hyperspace logic jump when Blomkvist's daughter (out of nowhere) points out the vital clue that breaks the case, and then all related info is collected by Lisbeth in 5 minutes.
Secondly, the following characters were shadows of themselves in the Fincher version: 1. Lisbeth Salander 2. Henrik Vanger 3. Martin Vanger 4. Bjurman The actors weren't horrible, but they were not as good as the ones in the Swedish version.
Lastly, there were key omissions and changes which, for me, were completely inexplicable and confusing. 1. Lisbeth's past, father, etc. was one or two lines of dialog. 2. Harriet Vanger in London? 3. Vanger does not tell Blomkvist that he knew Harriet.
It all adds up to a disappointing attempt to recreate the dark energy of Oplev's film. And the opening sequence was like a Tool video mixed with bad James Bond.
128 out of 195 people found the following review useful:
Comes forth with the Thaw, 20 December 2011
Author: David Ferguson (email@example.com) from Dallas, Texas
Greetings again from the darkness. The character of Lisbeth Salander
absolutely fascinates me. That's true whether we are discussing Stieg
Larsson's Millennium trilogy novels, the Swedish film versions, or this
latest film version from director David Fincher and a screenplay from
Steve Zaillian. It's also true whether Lisbeth is played on screen by
Noomi Rapace (Swedish films) or Rooney Mara. She is a brilliant
character hiding in plain sight from a world that has fiercely
mistreated her, and now misjudges and underestimates her. She is the
oddest heroine I can recall ... and I can't get enough of her.
Let's start with the source material. Stieg Larsson's books are far from perfect, but addictive just the same. The first book (on which this film is based) is, at its core, a simple who-dunnit presented in a manner that is claustrophobic, paranoid and eerie. Moving on to this particular film, we find the director and screenplay holding the basic tone while making a few changes ... some minor, others more substantial. These changes may irk those fans who are a bit more loyal to the books, but Fincher surely wanted to offer more than a simple re-telling of the story.
Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist hired to solve the 40 year old mystery of the disappearance/murder of Harriet Vanger, niece to Swedish millionaire Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). To research, Blomkvist must dig into the Vanger's rotten family tree of Nazis, anti-Semites, sexual predators, anti-social fanatics, and a few just plain loony birds. You can imagine how excited this rich and once powerful family is to have someone uncovering long buried secrets. Circumstances allow for Lisbeth to assist Blomkvist in researching this.
Unlike many mysteries where assembling the clues is the most fun, the real heart of this story is the odd, somewhat uncomfortable developing relationship between Blomkvist and Lisbeth. This latest version allows this to develop relatively smoothly, but it nonetheless rattles our senses. We see the subtle changes in Lisbeth as she slowly opens up to the idea of a real friendship based on trust. Fear not mystery fans, the Vanger clan still provides more than enough juice to keep any film sleuth happy.
It's truly impossible to avoid comparisons between the two movie versions and the respective casts. It's quite obvious Mr. Fincher was working with a substantially greater budget than Niels Arden Opler had for the first Swedish film. While they are both enthralling, I actually lean a bit towards the rawer original. That takes nothing away from this latest version. Same with Noomi Rapace vs. Rooney Mara. Ms. Mara is excellent in her performance and I was fully satisfied, but Ms. Rapace brought a rougher edge to the role ... one that made it even tougher to crack that shell. The biggest difference in the casts is Daniel Craig against Michael Nyqvist. Mr. Craig is just a bit too cool for the role, while Nyqvist captured the insecurity and vulnerability that Larsson wrote about.
All of that is nit-picking. Both film versions are sterling entertainment and hopefully the Fincher version will bring the story to a much wider audience. I would encourage those that are interested to check out the Swedish version, as well as the Larsson books. Maybe that will explain my fascination with this creature known as Lisbeth Salander.
303 out of 556 people found the following review useful:
Why?, 24 December 2011
Author: eltechno from MN United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is pretty popular at our house. The
trilogy has been read and all the three Scandinavian film versions have
been watched. So it was with both anticipation and dread we watched the
Hollywood version at the local cineplex yesterday. We walked away
feeling puzzled as to why $100 million had been spent to make a movie
that had already been brilliantly made only two years earlier. So
tonight, we watched the Swedish version again for comparison which only
re-enforced our opinions.
The biggest problem with the new version is that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It was filmed in Sweden. Larsson was Swedish. Etc. Yet the Swedish elements that give the story coherence have gone AWOL in the latest incarnation. I guess this is not especially surprising considering that director Fincher wondered in a Swedish interview after filming in the north how anyone could live in such a climate. If someone is actually confused about THAT, not much else about Swedish society is going to make much senseespecially the complexities that allow that society to not merely survive but prosper.
The biggest problem centers around the casting of Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomqvist. Blomqvist is supposed to be a Swedish idealist working for a lefty Stockholm rag. In the Swedish version of the film, all the nuances of such a person fill every scene so well it sometimes provokes a laughter of recognition. Craig, on the other hand, seems utterly clueless about how to play such a character. The man makes a great James Bonda Swedish intellectual, not so much.
Because Craig doesn't get his character right, the whole relationship between Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander never develops properly. This is a women who has a bunch of issues with men yet grows to trust and eventually love him. But instead of character development, we are left with the unspoken assumption of "what woman wouldn't have the hots for Daniel Craig?" While this is what makes Bond movies work, it is bizarrely out of place for this plot.
And then there are the missing details that were included in the Scandinavian version. The nature of the Vanger family Fascism. The hints at why Salander is so screwed up. The role of computers in their search for the bad guy and a believable explanation for how things got done. The details of how people actually DO cope with the coldold Henrik Vanger knows how and when to wear an expensive parka in the Swedish version.
Of course, what is really missing from the Hollywood version is the politics of modern Sweden. Most people think of Sweden, if at all, as this lefty, sex-crazed, micro-society that was defined forever by the Social Democrats. What this picture misses is the role of the Swedish right wing. This may be the country of Gunnar Myrdal and Dag Hammarskjold, but it is also a country of wealthy industrialists with global connections and ambitions. The trilogy goes into extensive detail about this reality and this whole movie is about an industrialist with a bunch of Fascist siblings. Yet except for a few lines, this social tension barely makes an appearance in Fincher's telling. For example, in the Swedish version, we learn that one of the Vangers was killed fighting as a volunteer in Finland's Winter War with USSR. This detail explains volumes but it is missing in the Hollywood remake.
Fincher makes a good movie but he cannot get over the contradictions of making a movie set in Sweden that has been stripped of all Swedishness. What remains is an adolescent action movie with a real James Bond in the lead role. So a $100 million was spent to make a new movie with roughly 15% of the intellectual content of a brilliantly made movie that is only two years old. I suppose it makes sense. If you are making a movie targeted at an audience that is too damn lazy to read subtitles, I suppose it is a good move to eliminate much of the intellectual content of the books and the original movie.
Who knowsmaybe this thing will make money. My guess is that in most marketsespecially those where both versions must use subtitles anywaythe Swedish version will be far more popular because there is so much more movie. It has more details and that makes it more believable. In the end, that should count for something.
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