Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


The feel bad movie of the season is upon us. As many of you loyal readers know, I'm the type of misanthrope who enjoys spending his free time during the holidays watching a marathon of violence, sexual abuse, and psychological carnage on the big screen. David Fincher's long awaited adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has finally arrived in theaters. It's a long and viscous film. But while it's a bleak and draining experience, like the Swedish winter itself, it's also jarringly beautiful.

I remember I was initially upset this movie was even being made. Larsson's novels, dubbed "the Millennium" trilogy, had already been adapted into a series of films in his native Sweden in 2009. Thanks to the power of Netflix, I watched these films and quickly fell under the spell of Lisbeth Salander aka, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. As noted before here at Jim's Fear, I'm not too fond of bumbling Hollywood remakes/cash grabs of superior foriegn films (LET ME IN =/ ). That being said...I'm a huge David Fincher fanboy so my initial fears of this adaptation were quelled when I heard he was attached to direct.

IKEA...you've never been?
Luckily, I was correct. Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo succeeded in not royally pissing me off and for that, I congratulate him. The film centers around disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig) and his unlikely ally, punk rock/techno-junkie Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), as they investigate a 40 year old murder mystery. Of course there's a whole lot more going on in this film, enough to fill past the 2.5 hour mark! Part thriller, part crime caper, some dramatic romantic flare thrown in, and a whole lot of squeamish "adult" content, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is probably unlike any other film released this year. Of course, my main problem with this movie is that, it's already been done before.

As much as I love Fincher and enjoyed this new film, I must say I still prefer the previous Swedish version to this American one. True, Fincher's stylish camera work cannot be matched and his new film is supposed to be even more true to Larsson's original novel, something(s) just couldn't match the original. Rooney Mara's take on Lisabeth is breath taking and easily one of the best performances of 2011. In fact I'd say she's the best thing about this version. Noomi Rapace's portrayal of Lizabeth in the Swedish films is iconic and amazing for different reasons.The original film was more fluid/engaging and featured a stoic, almost two dimensional/Terminator- ish Rapace, playing Lisbeth like Joan Jett on crazy pills. Fincher's new film is the exact opposite. His Dragon Tattoo is sterile and exhausting but showcases a more open/moving portrayal of Lisabeth by Rooney Mara, who comes across as a reluctant gutter punk vixen. Both are amazing in their respective films, but for my money, it's the 2009 Swedish film > 2011 Hollywood version in the end.

Lisbeth Salander(s)
Of course on it's own this is still a very good movie. I'd say it mixes the brutality of Fincher's Seven, with the cold criminal procedural element of Zodiac, and the forlorn longing that underscored most of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It might not sit well with the faint of heart (movies with violent rapes and murders are kind of polarizing like that) but still a gripping film.

19 comments:

  1. Great review. I haven't seen it yet, out of reluctance because I'm a big fan of the Swedish adaptation of the novel, and I didn't want to be disappointed. But, I'm definitely going to check it out now.

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  2. I haven't seen either. I don't know when I will, either. I'm waiting until I've seen enough reviews and heard enough opinions to be sure I'll prefer one over the other and watch that one first. So far I'm siding with the Swedish, and the originals TEND to be better.. but it -could- go either way for this one.

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  3. I haven't seen either, but I wanna see both! What one do you suggest I see first?

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  4. Seen it, excellent film. It's a decent murder mystery but Salanader's character makes it special. I haven't read the book or seen the Swedish version but my wife has and thought the Swedish version was inferior as large chunks of plot were missing.

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  5. interesting, i might check out the original first. :D

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  6. Violent rape and murder? They still put those things in movies?

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  7. oh man have I really wanted to see this one! :D

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  8. It's great to hear you giving this film props because now I'm tempted to go and check it out. I heard it was good but it had flopped in the Box Office so I wasn't sure but now I reckon I will probably go and see it if I get the chance!

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  9. Glad to hear that Fincher's version decent. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie.

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  10. that bitch has no eyebrows, what in the shit?! and yeahhh i probably wont check out this movie. thanks for the review, it saved me 14 dorrars.

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  11. I haven't watched this one either, but I will soon enough. I'm with you too, big movie week for me as well..haha

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  12. I'm so gay for Daniel Craig.. oops, did I type that out loud?

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  13. I've been meaning to read the books.

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  14. I appreciate the review. I've only heard good things about the books and Swedish films, so hearing someone who enjoyed those say that a remake didn't piss them off is a very good sign. =D

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  15. Still not sure I even want to see the movie, let alone read the book. I have heard very very mixed reviews on these stories. Maybe I will just read the Cliff notes, or something.

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  16. I haven't read the book but I will definitely be watching the film!! Yep, I'm one of them. Great review and I'm glad to hear it wasn't disappointing!!

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  17. Yea, I can't bring myself to see this in theaters because I just watched the original movies a few months ago. Will probaby rent it because of Fincher though

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