Title: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Elodie Yung
Genres: Adaptation, Drama, Thriller
Running Time: 2 hours. 40 minutes
Release Date: December 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Review: I loved the books, as well as the original Swedish movie adaptation (read my review here), so it was with some trepidation that I watched the Hollywood-ized adaptation.
And Fincher's version of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is good. The script has been altered quite a bit, some for the better, and some for the worse. I did really enjoy the fact that they still filmed it in Sweden (which happens to be my home country), but that may be my own bias, since several people I went with specifically mentioned this as one thing they didn't like.
Personally, my biggest gripe with the remake is Lisbeth herself. In the Swedish version, this character is brought to life in one of the most authentic performance I've seen in a while. Noomi Rapace climbed into this fictional character, and basically lived as Lisbeth Salander for 3 years, while filming the trilogy. She IS Lisbeth.
Here, we get to see the Hollywood version of Lisbeth, and it is a stark contrast. While they look very similar, this Lisbeth is more surface, less substance. Instead of showing us who she is, she tells us. Instead of the quiet threat of Rapace's Lisbeth, we here have a Lisbeth who screams in people's faces to show her aggression. At the same time, the fragile vulnerability of Rapace's Lisbeth is absent in Mara's Lisbeth, and the space left behind is stuffed with stereotypical clichés. While the Swedish Lisbeth would never care if Michael sees someone else, the Hollywood Lisbeth is miffed and jealous, something that doesn't quite gel with this emotionally detached character. Furthermore, I wish the dragon would have been left alone. I much preferred it when it ripped it's way out of Lisbeth's entire body, instead of the small dragon on her shoulder we see here. The change is quite telling.
That is not to say that Mara's version is weak. Far from it. If hers was the only portrayal of this character, it would be a very strong performance. However, as it is, the original portrayal was better. I do hope, as the remake trilogy continues, that Mara brings some more substance to her version of Lisbeth.
The strength of the American version, much to my surprise, is Daniel Craig. His performance as Mikael Blomqvist is excellent. It's one of, if not the, best performance of his career. I find myself looking forward to where he will take this role in the following two films. Well done, Mr. Craig.
The Swedish films are raw, with a typically Swedish starkness, and every scene brings the story forward. The Hollywood version is more jagged, at some moments very much so. Some bits of the story have been scrambled for "movie making reasons", so fans of the book series will be surprised here and there. While it may be unfair to judge a remake film against its predecessor, so is the life of a remake. All in all, though, this version is a good film, and definitely worth a watch.