Viewed – 23 April 2012 Blu-ray
I don’t normally agree with remakes of foreign movies, but in the case of this much-anticipated American adaptation, I have a major reason to make an exception … David Fincher. Arguably one of the best directors of the moment, who has crafted some of the finest movies of the last ten years of so, namely Seven, Zodiac and Fight Club. Newcomer Rooney Mara takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker for hire who gets involved with disgraced magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) when he is hired to investigate a 40 year mystery by an ageing business tycoon (Christopher Plummer). Blomkvist soon discovers he’s been given the job of piecing together the clues revolving around the disappearance and suspected murder of the tycoon’s niece, Harriet, and subsequently uncovers the shady dealings and murky past of a wealthy but complex family.
Fincher’s adaptation of the acclaimed novel by the late Stieg Larsson, and the first part of the famed ‘millennium trilogy’ that also comprises The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, seems faithful not only to the book but also to the Swedish movie of the same name that made a cult star out of actress Noomi Rapace. For me having seen both versions, I found this the hardest to follow. Set like the book and the other movie in Sweden and with the same character names, locations etc, I think the Swedish version actually benefits from being subtitled, and many of the places, names and little details come across clearer when you’re seeing them printed at the bottom of the screen. This of course doesn’t help Fincher’s movie as the strong accents and foreign names are harder to grasp when hearing them as opposed to reading them. This version also differs in several key areas, such as how Blomkvist and Salander finally get to work together, how Salander’s mother isn’t even featured, but replaced by a stronger focus on her former ‘guardian’, and the ending is changed significantly, proving much less satisfying. It puzzled me why Fincher made these changes, but having not read the book, I can’t say which movie is the most faithful. Performances-wise Rooney Mara is excellent as Lisbeth and every bit as tough and complex as Noomi Rapace was, even if I felt I warmed to Rapace’s performance quicker. Daniel Craig however, although likable brings nothing that Michael Nyqvist didn’t achieve back in 2009, failing to stamp his own identity on the character.
To conclude this is a fascinating effort from David Fincher who brings plenty of style and his usual attention to detail to proceedings, even if for a film-maker of his calibre, I was left wanting. Considering the hype of the books or the acclaim of the Swedish movie, this should have been the definitive version … but for me, just felt competent rather than truly blowing me away. Yet there is still enough here to make me wonder just what we’ll get with the two proposed sequels, which I’m already guessing could turn out superior.
Verdict: 3 /5
Incidentally, a post on the blog ProdigalFilmStudent has compared both movie adaptations, which makes for fascinating reading, but as can be expected, is spoilerifick.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (danielpthomas.wordpress.com)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012) – A toothless Dragon! (devlifeintechnicolor.wordpress.com)
- Dragon Tattoo Redux (anofs.wordpress.com)
Pointless no doubt bus as it’s Fincher, I gotta see it. I think the next two really stepped it up a gear but I hope Fincher moves onto something different rather than remaking them.
I’m really coeenrcnd as a fan of the books and original Swedish versions of the trilogy, I was hoping for more than a tag line of “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas”!!! Seriously?!?!? The complex and challenging story that is Lisbeth and Michael’s has been boiled down to that sound bite?!? Stieg Larsson’s story deserves so much more than that!
Nice review 🙂 After reading the book, I saw the Rooney Mara one- a few weeks back, and just saw the Swedish one (Noomi Rapace) a few nights ago. I did end up liking both, but felt the opposite in regards to which one was stronger. I liked Fincher’s best, though again, the Swedish one was stands strong in its own right. Fincher’s Lisbeth seemed more disturbed, distant, damaged then the Swedish Lisbeth. She seemed edgy, but in a quiet subtle way which allowed for us to also see in her fear. She played it to where I bought into the believability of her character. She was not an actress playing Lisbeth. Rooney was Lisbeth.
Again, enjoyed your review. Thanks for sharing your take on the differences between the two. 🙂
If you haven’t read the book then how can you say “As a movie it just didn’t deliver on the promise of either the book…” I agree that the book is better than the films. But Rooney Mara’s character is so much closer to the Lisbeth in the book, Noomi Rapace just looks tired of playing the same role nearly a year.
Seriously you need to read the book.
Made a little edit to the review in light of your comment, and feel you have a valid point. I was meaning more the hype of the book, so have hopefully made things a little clearer now.
Thanks for your comment.
I watched it too because of Fincher, but must say that I prefer the original Swedish movie.