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“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” [2011] – Early Review (POSITIVE)

December 20, 2011

David Fincher continues to deliver the goods! As promised in the first teaser trailer, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is truly the feel BAD movie of Christmas. After watching Fincher’s two and half hour (plus) murder mystery, you’re gonna feel dirty, violated, disgusted, and appalled after seeing this version of Stieg Larsson’s epic crime tale, and you know what? That’s why I loved this film.

I liked the original Niels Arden Oplev’s film; Noomi Rapace’s performance is indeed the shining star of that film. The 2009 movie as a whole was a little disjointed at times, and the ending seemed a little bit schmaltzy. The story itself is intriguing, I finished reading the book in a week, and so adapting a page-turner is indeed just. So, what happens when a cult foreign hit, also made as a complete trilogy, falls into the hands of the Americans? Well, out cries start out first. Many fans of the original foreign films usually scream out against remaking the beloved film into an American money machine. But, if we look back there have been many successes with American adaptations of foreign films; one has won Best Picture for instance (“The Departed”). So, it’s something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

When I read that David Fincher was to direct & Oscar winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) was to write the film, well, lets just say I knew this would be a special movie. The moment that “Immigrant Song” teaser hit the web, I got massive chills. The Oscar winning team that is Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross has return to compose more eerie techno music for their master Fincher. This is the right team to do Larsson’s book 100% justice. While the casting of Daniel Craig as Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist seemed a bit odd, casting a Brit to play a Swede, the casting of Rooney Mara really grabbed my attention. She has surpassed all my expectations, and it’ll be criminal if she doesn’t get the Oscar.

Like the original 2009 film, the movie follows a disgraced journalist of Millennium magazine, Mikael Blomkvist (Craig), as he’s brought in to investigates the disappearance of a resignedly patriarch’s niece from 40 years ago. The man who hires Blomkvist is Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), he believes that his niece was murdered, and it had to have been someone within the family, a family of old miser’s, war criminals, and incoherent individuals. Blomkvist is aided by a pierced, tattooed, punk, computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined, involving murder, religion, sex, and much more.

Let me first say this, Fincher is notorious for having creative opening titles to his movies, this films opening credits is the best one since “Se7en”. I mean, WOW! Karen O & Trent Reznor’s version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” will for sure, without question, pump up the audience. Words cannot describe what I was seeing; all I can say is this, get ready. Moving on, it’s safe to say that this version of “Dragon Tattoo” is far more superior to the original ’09 movie. Mainly because, I think we have a director who has a better grasp on multilayered crime films. Look at “Se7en” or even “Zodiac”; those movies are cut in specific ways to grab the audience attention from point A to point B. The movie was a lot cleaner cut to understand, and I mean that in a sense that how the movie was cut together in the editing, not in language. The movie flows more briskly, the transitions between past & present times is so smooth, but with a dash of eeriness.

Rooney Mara’s performance is intense a lot more gritty than I was expecting it to be. Fans of the Swede films praise Noomi Rapace, and she was terrific, don’t get me wrong, but Mara’s performance was a lot meaner and aggressive. There were times, where I feared what she would do next. The scenes with her ‘officer’ are quite provocative and grisly; it’ll be hard to watch those scenes, that I can assure you. Craig is great too, I can’t really think of a role he’s done that I never liked him in. If the filmmakers continue on with the trilogy, I’m excited to see where it goes with both Mara & Craig.

The movie does run at two hours and forty minutes, and for some that might be over doing it, but like my experience with Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, which also had a very lengthy runtime, this was the fastest two hours and forty minutes I’ve ever experienced. It’s because of the story and how it grabs your attention from start to finish. You’re so enthralled with it that you forget to look at your watch. The movie is not for the faint of heart that much I can promise so heed my warning parents, DO NOT BRING YOUR DAMN KIDS TO THIS MOVIE! Unless you plan on scarring them for life!

GRADE: A-

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2011 3:19 am

    I felt an “A” coming from this film. Yeah, from what i’ve read this is more like 16 or 17+ film haha.

    Nice review!

    • December 20, 2011 9:06 am

      I’m so excited to see this movie again. WOW! You see the other reason why this was better than the Sweded version was that film was broken up into 5 parts for television. It never had a theatrical run until it was cut together as one long movie and released in the US. It was a mini-series in Sweden. That’s why it was so disjointed.

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