Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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.
Grade: 7.5


  1. I think I liked this Lisbeth better than you did, but I still felt she was very different Noomi's version. And I definitely preferred Noomi. Maybe because I was expecting it to be such an abject failure, I'm being kinder than I ordinarily would. (Or maybe I REALLY need to rewatch the originals) but I thought Rooney Mara did a decent job, even if not an amazing job.

    But Daniel Craig was superb. I'm not one to generally drool over him (sometimes I can see it, sometimes I can't) but his Blomqvist was astounding. I bought the playboy much better than I did in the Swedish film, even though his playboy nature seemed downplayed here.

    The one thing I detested about Fincher's version? Not the plot changes, not the things that were left out or glanced over. I LOATHED the opening title sequence. It reminded me of a Bond movie (shout out to Daniel Craig?) and seemed to be selling Lisbeth as sexy. And the body isn't what's sexy about her, so that part did nothing for me.

  2. I definitely agree with you on the opening sequence. It was lame, and totally reminded me of a Bond film as well. I do think Mara did a great job, I just think the portrayal was more superficial. I usually don't like Daniel Craig either, but here he really did shine. I think I'm going to re-watch the Swedish films.