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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A 2011 movie directed by David Fincher.

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Dragon Tattoo Take 2

  • Dec 22, 2011
Rating:
+2

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Written by Steve Zaillian

Directed by David Fincher

Starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard

 

Armansky: I’m concerned you won’t like her. She’s different.

Frode: In what way?

Armansky: In every way.

 

I always say that film criticism is an inherently subjective practice and reviewing David Fincher’s remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the perfect example to prove this. It has only been a year and a half since I first saw the original Swedish version of this film. It was known even then that Fincher’s version was in development and it was obvious that the only reason it was being made was to cater to a wider American audience. To be fair, the subject nature of the film is way too dark for it to ever really play that wide but, as the first film only raked in about $10 million in North American box office receipts, and given the popularity of the late Steig Larsson’s novel of the same name, there stands to be a great number of people interested in Fincher’s version. And so, while some will find the new version exhilarating, anyone who has seen Niels Arden Oplev’s original may feel a distinct lack of purpose.

 

I have not read any of the popular novels but as both film versions are more or less identical in plot execution, I can only assume that the structure of the novel is my first issue with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Without the shock value to cover it up, the introduction to Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) comes across as a character punishment and misguided distraction more so than anything else. While Mickael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) embarks on the film’s actual plot - deciphering a family murder mystery dating back 40 years - for the first hour or so of the film, Lisbeth is being presented separately as a dark, dangerous girl. Her gothic look is seen to all who encounter her as a sign of weakness that allows them to use and abuse her. Lisbeth can take care of herself just fine but she has been through a ton of horrifying experiences that have made her into this clearly disturbed creature. She is a fascinating character, and the fantastic Mara is incredibly devoted to the part, but the painful effort to portray her as “other” makes it feel as though Fincher also sees her the same way. It makes me wonder if Larsson ever liked her even.

 

Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is certainly stylish but it never rose to a level that justified its need to exist for me. In fact, the more polished look seemed at times less authentic in comparison with the more rough aesthetic of the original. That being said, the mystery at the root of the film is a good one and if you’re coming to the film blind, it will certainly shock you. I commend Fincher for making every effort possible, even shooting the film in Sweden and casting a number of Swedish actors in smaller roles, but in his attempt to honour the original, he finished by recreating instead of actually creating something all his own.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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December 26, 2011
Joseph, Nice review. I was thinking of seeing this at the movie theater. I think you just saved me a lot of money and I'll wait for the TV version.
 
December 23, 2011
agreed on all points! Your thoughts mirror mine. I prefer the Swedish version since I felt that it was more fitting. I understand Fincher's need to make it neater and I have to admit it had strong direction; I would've like this one more if I did not see the Swedish film. Nice one, Joseph!
 
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More The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... reviews
review by . December 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
David Fincher's Stylish, Dark, Sexier
When I first heard of the American remake of the Swedish film released in 2009 based on the internationally acclaimed novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (original title “The Man Who Hate Women”), I have to admit I wasn’t too excited; that is until I learned that director David Fincher would be at its helm. Fincher is a director whose works I liked from “Se7en”, “Fight Club” and even “The Zodiac”. The film is more of a re-interpretation …
review by . March 01, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Nazis, Rape, Torture and Happy Meals.
I'm finally tackling it.      When I got the invite to come to this site almost 4 years ago, there was one topic that dominated my emails about updates on Lunch, and that was this subject:  I don't remember exactly if it was the Swedish films that people were talking about or if it was the novels published after the Author's death but one this was certain:  Whatever this movie or book was about, with a name that could be a James Bond title for a movie: this …
review by . August 27, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Revenge is better when served cold.
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," was one of the most suspenseful novels that I've had the pleasure of reading.      I had also seen the original movie with subtitles and enjoyed that also.      With the 2011 film, directed by David Fincher, I have, once again, been greatly entertained.      The story is based on a Swedish journalist, Mikael Blomkvist suffering a legal defeat on a case where he is accused of slander.   …
review by . December 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Very Dark, Brutal, and Gripping Film.
Following the very successful adaptation of Stieg Larssons millennium trilogy into three very successful Swedish language films, it came as no surprise when Hollywood announced that it would be making an English-language version of the series. Director David Fincher was announced to craft the first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The new version follows very close to the original material with one fairly big exception which I will detail later in the review. Daniel Craig stars …
review by . July 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    By now, we all know the story. Corrupt Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) - having just lost a libel case against the billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerstrom - accepts a job given to him by the affluent Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to re-open and solve a 40-year old case involving the old man's niece Harriet, who went missing all those years ago at an annual family gathering and as of now is still considered murdered, although there doesn't …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Watching the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was actively engaged with its dual storylines, but I also found myself pondering which of the two was the more important. Now that David Fincher has made an English-language remake, I find myself pondering what went wrong. Here is a mystery thriller so cold, so distant, and so lacking in energy that it feels neither mysterious nor thrilling. It follows the plot of the original …
review by . January 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
If there were an award for most unsettling film of 2011 or best use of black eye-liner, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be a shoe-in. That’s not to say it isn’t a good movie, in fact it’s brilliant. It’s gorgeously shot, beautifully paced, has a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Rooney Mara and strings you along for one of the best mysteries I’ve ever tagged along for. That being said, it’s still one of the darkest, most mature films …
review by . January 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      Fincher's dark and mute direction in his retake of Stieg Larssen's trilogy-novel was somehow expected but I never thought it will turn out to be so haunting and fresh. Spectacular technical detail, from beginning to the very end. A charismatic and harsh sample of great journalism, character study, and thrilling evolution. A variety of dramatic colors and a cold and poisonous atmosphere that made this movie memorable.      The Girl With the Dragon …
review by . January 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
After viewing the fairly well-produced and well-adapted "Girl" trilogy of films (based on the Millennium novels by the late Stieg Larrson) by director Niels Arden Oplev, the question, "Why see yet another version of this same story?" (even if it is done in English, Hollywood style) may just cross one's mind especially in a diminished economy where frugality renders duplication superfluous. However close to the perfection of the author's vision Noomi Rapace's performance might have been, Rooney Mara's …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It has been tough to escape the Millennium trilogy for the past three years. Author Stieg Larsson left his trilogy unpublished, it wasn’t until after his death that the books hit the shelves and became a worldwide phenomenon. It then became a movie made in Sweden which did not shine away from the darker parts of the story with European audiences unafraid to deal with such issues. When trying to make an American version of the film the studios called on none other than David Fincher who previously …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #9
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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Wiki

A murder mystery rife with suspense, scandal, sexual abuse, and some supremely intriguing characters,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoois an excellently crafted film adaptation of Stieg Larsson's equally fascinating book of the same name. Larsson's book was also the basis of a 2009 Swedish film (also with the same title), and while the Swedish film was good, this American version is far superior, thanks to fantastic cinematography and livelier pacing that results in a constant, electric tension that drives every second of the movie. The breathtaking footage of a snowy, remote island in Sweden thoroughly exudes bitter cold, and the attention to the smallest details, like the whistling of the wind through a door left ajar, makes the hairs on the back of viewers' necks absolutely prickle. Like the book, the film is long (158 minutes), there's an abundance of dialogue that is never awkward and always efficient, and there are plenty of false endings. The suspense and the intricacy of the mystery are stellar, and even viewers who know the story well will find themselves sucked into the riddle being investigated by journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). The casting is great, as are the performances of all the key actors, but by far the best thing about this film is Rooney Mara, who is utterly believable as the incredibly strong, extremely disturbed Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist's unlikely assistant. Mara's performance is chillingly real and completely ...
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Details

Director: David Fincher
Release Date: December 20, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Mar. 20, 2012
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
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