The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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

Viewed – 17 July 2010  Blu-ray

I only have a casual awareness of the famed Millenium Trilogy by late author Stieg Larsson, and this first adaptation of the first book caught my eye after seeing many rave reviews.  Telling the tale of a missing girl and the disgraced reporter (Michael Nyqvist) who is hired to uncover the truth, this is certainly well told, gripping stuff, and as he investigates a shady high-profile family, uncovering a dark past – a street-wise computer hacker with a troubled past of her own befriends him and helps him piece together the clues.

Expertly directed by Niels Arden Oplev and with a stand-out, tragic performance by Noomi Rapace as computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, this has a thoroughly gripping, complex story full of twists, turns and heart-in-mouth moments, that while unflinching and at times disturbing, kept me literally on the edge of my seat.  It’s a long movie but never did it drag as the story has plenty of detail and with glimpses of both leads past to add further depth, I couldn’t dare look away for a second.  With some stunning cinematography showcasing the grand Swedish wintery-locales as well as stylish direction and a suitably exciting score, this is a movie that just keeps on giving, all leading up to an ending that is both emotional and satisfying.

It would seem on this evidence (and that of acclaimed vampire flick Let The Right One In), that Sweden is becoming the new France for well made, accomplished movies … and I simply can’t wait to see the next in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Verdict:  5 /5