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Gavin Grades The Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It wasn't that long ago that America took a fantastic Swedish film called Let the Right One In and remade it less than two years after it came out.  The American version proved to be even a little better than that original mostly because of the direction Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) took it.  Here we find ourselves in the exact same position again, only this time it's for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and our new director that thinks he can do it better is David Fincher.

Fincher is one of the best directors out there.  He has hit home runs far more often than singles and I don't think he's ever struck out.  After being film fanboy candy for years with films like Se7en, Fight Club and The Game, he branched out recently with widely watched and loved films like The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  So if anyone was going to have the arrogance to remake a film that came out less than two years ago, I'm glad it was someone who should be a little full of themselves.

I never read the book nor the two that complete the trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson, but I did watch the original Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows).  I was not impressed with it nor was I bored by it.  It was a puzzle to me.  I couldn't understand why the books were such an international sensation when they came across like a painfully average murder mystery.  But that's clearly my hang-up because the books and movies are so popular that Hollywood wanted to dig its talons in and take a bite for itself.

This version stars Daniel Craig (James Bond films, Munich) and Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Nightmare on Elm Street).  Craig is investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist who is hired to solve a 40-year-old murder and Mara is his tattooed, cyber punk assistant Lisbeth Salander.  Craig is always a decent bet when choosing a film because you get intensity, good looks and quiet heroism.  Mara, on the other hand, is brand new at this but so far so great!  I don't like to cheer anyone on who's had nothing but a life of riches and lack of hardship (one relative owned the NY Giants, the other the Pittsburgh Steelers, and her dad walked into the family business of owning football players), but she is fantastic in this, although the hard work was already done for her by Rapace.

Mara takes some massive risks by taking this part on.  Besides the fact that she's completely naked in several scenes, she also tackles some brutally graphic rape scenes.  I understand being hungry to make a name for yourself in Hollywood, but a role like this too early in a career could also break it as well.  She's not the only one to take a risk with that role; Fincher did too.  Every studio executive and producer that had their slimey mit on this film begged him to use a more well-known actress for the titular character but he insisted on Mara and it looks like he made the right call (She's already nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination looks written in stone.).

The problem with this film, aside from the painfully average story as I mentioned before, is that they remade it for no reason at all.  I'm not an anti-remake film fan.  I think that a movie like this really could be made better.  It's very confusing trying to keep all the Swedish characters and places and companies straight, especially since to my ignorant brain they all sound the same.  So giving it a Hollywood spin would lend itself to be easier to follow by setting it in America and giving the characters American names.  But that's not what Fincher did.  Through foolish integrity, he kept it all true to the book.  Fine, but then why the hell remake it at all?  Just to avoid reading subtitles?  Tisk Tisk, David.

The other mistake the film made was making it entirely too long.  At over two and a half hours long, it feels like you've sat there for over three.  I also understand that you want to stay true to the book, but some literary choices don't translate well to the big screen.  Example in this case is a misplaced climax followed by almost 30 minutes of no-one-cares closure to a subplot; something the Swedish version was smart enough to condense down to less than ten minutes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is just part one of a trilogy.  No I will not read the books because nothing so far as blown my dress up to give me that kind of ambition.  And although this film is far from a strike out, it doesn't leave me chomping at the bit for the next installment either.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B

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Topics : Entertainment_Culture
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Locations : Munich
People : Daniel CraigDavid FincherGavin GradeLisbeth SalanderMatt Reeves (Cloverfield)Mikael Blomkvist


12/24/2011 11:28AM
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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12/24/2011 3:48PM
Read Them
Gavin, tsk, tsk to you.....the books are amazing. I couldn't put any one of them down once I started them. The first one is about the murder mystery, however, the other 2 are more about Lisbeth Salander and how she became the person she is. Veryenjoyable books and as always the books go into much better detail than the movie versions. Read them, you'll be glad you did and will be very excited for the release of the next two movies!
01/09/2012 1:13PM
So So wrong!
I really enjoyed this movie, sure it was long but the vast attention to detail is a well done to director. Perfect characters were chosen, and each scene was griping enough to an extent as if you were solving out the mystery as well. Very captivating, and will hope the next versions are put on the big screen. The ending was sad but it's understandable why it was done(to. Entrigue audience for, possibilly another movie???) Whatever intention, still on edge to what occurs next, being a movie junkie will wait for that future remake if I can't get myself a copy of. That book!
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