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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A 2011 movie directed by David Fincher.

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Twas the Night Before Christmas...And Lisbeth Salander Was Up to No Good...

  • Dec 25, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+5
It's only fitting that I'm writing this review on a MacBook Pro, the preferred computer of both Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.  And why not?  They are great computers.  But this review is not (for the first time in a long time) about an Apple product.  No, it is about what could possibly be my new favorite film that happens to be the film adaptation of my favorite (and millions of other people around the world) book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Since I left Lunch as a Brand Ambassador a couple of years ago, I have chosen very carefully what I have come back to write about.  Usually, it is something that really moves me.  I have even come back, written a draft, and never posted it because the subject matter wasn't as important to me as I thought it was.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is now one of those subjects, that has brought me back, and maybe in the biggest way since I have so much to say about it.  David Fincher, a film making genius, has finally made not just an adaptation that is worth putting on screen, but a film that will probably (hopefully) run away with all the Oscars this year.  From a brilliant cast to a stunning back drop of beautiful yet moody Sweden, Dragon Tattoo is quite possibly one of the top ten films of the decade.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the English Language film adaptation of the first book of Stieg Larssson's Millennium Trilogy.  Following an embarrassing lawsuit in which he is found guilty of libel, disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by a former industrial mogul to solve a murder that took place forty years ago.  Blomkvist is assisted by Lisbeth Salander, a social misfit with multiple tattoos and piercings who has been cast out by society.  With Lisbeth's unique investigative tools and Mikael's drive to find the truth, both will discover one of the most closely guarded family secrets, with some alarming twists along the way.

Before actually talking about Fincher's adaptation of Dragon Tattoo, the Swedish film has to be brought up.  For one thing, I think this version and forever will continue to think so is a piece of garbage.  The people who disagree with me (there are a lot of them)?  Movie goers who skipped reading the book first and saw the film instead.  What they got was a poorly put together film with changes that didn't need to be made with a bland cast that didn't mesh.  People who didn't read the book are fine with this because they don't know any better.  Especially after seeing David Fincher's film with Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, I have no idea why people thought Noomi Rapice was so great in that role.  I though she was average at best and her chemistry with Michael Nyqvist (Blomkvist) was bland and almost phoned in.  The mood wasn't there and for any lover of the books, I hope you feel this way as well.  If not, I'm just nuts.

Onto the good film.  Before one can even talk about the cast, you have to talk about Sweden.  Any other director may have said, "Fuck it, let's film in Vancouver and mask it as Stockholm."  David Fincher knew though that without filming in Sweden, there would be no movie.  This is because at the end of day, after reading the books, the Millennium trilogy is about Sweden.  Fincher doesn't just film there though, he made the Sweden of the books come alive and become a character like Lisbeth and Mikael.  It's dark moody nights and it's bitter cold winters, Sweden truly does take center stage next to Rooney Mara in Dragon Tattoo.  If you have read the books, I imagine that this is how you imagined the scenery while reading.

This is something you will read in every other review of this film because it is a fact.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Rooney Mara's movie.  If she doesn't win best actress at the Oscars for her portrayal of Lisbeth, then there is something truly wrong with the Academy and I will never watch another Oscar broadcast again.  What she had to go through to become this character could not have been easy.  From filming an extremely violent rape scene to getting multiple painful piercings (props to Noomi Rapice for doing this as well), she has earned some strong recognition.  Rooney Mara has a very unique look, so it's hard not to want to say in other films, "oh, hey, that's Rooney Mara."  In Dragon Tattoo, it was hard to tell it was her underneath the piercings and haircut.  She truly became Lisbeth for this film, even mastering a legitimate Swedish accent which could not have been easy.  Massive recognition must be given to David Fincher for casting someone who hasn't been in the business that long to take on such an epic role and have it work out so well.  Playing the role of Lisbeth Salander in such a perfect way can do nothing but skyrocket here career from here on out.

Fincher did a great job picking out really the whole cast of the film.  Daniel Craig as Blomkvist was superb and deserves an Oscar nod as well.  His chemistry with Mara, as well as Robin Wright really made the film come together.  Certain mannerisms Blomkvist had in the books were definitely carried over by Craig into the film, making it that much better.  Speaking of Robin Wright, she was the prefect person to play Erica Berger (a character who was all but cut out of the original Swedish films who happens to be a very important part of the story).  Her accent work along with her relationship with Mikael was very well played.  I could go on about the rest of the cast and they were all so good.  Chris Plummer was definitely a great choice for Henrik Vanger and Stellan Skarsgard as Martin gave me shivers.  This movie really wouldn't have worked with a different cast.  it's hard enough making a film adaptation as it is, so picking out such an amazing cast had to be really tricky.

As with any film adaptation of a novel, there are going to be certain aspects that get changed so they can be carried over into a film properly.  The important part is finding a way to change those things while still staying faithful to the book.  Fincher definitely succeeded at this.  Without giving too much away, certain aspects of the main plot were changed significantly, but not such in a way that makes it completely different.  It's still the same story with a little bit of a twist of a twist if you catch my drift which is all I'm going to say.  Fincher actually succeeded so well at this so that as I write this review, some of the changed were so minor, I can't really remember them now.  This is where the Swedish and American versions really distance themselves.  The Swedish film moved a few to many things around while Fincher's film went into more detail and kept the timeline and story in the order in was meant to be in. He captured the dark mood of the book not just with his backdrop of Sweden, but with the actors he trusted to make the characters come alive.

If you loved the Millennium Trilogy just as much as I did, this is a must see.  Even as a movie goer, Dragon Tattoo is going to get nominated for Best Picture so it should really be on your list no matter whether you have read the books or not.  David Fincher has really made a masterpiece here and the film is also accompanied by a beautiful dark score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose.  The score could really have a review of its own and I really suggest giving it a download from iTunes.  See this movie to be thoroughly entertained, outraged and satisfied.  Lunch should go to a 10 point system because that is was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo deserves.  10/10.
Twas the Night Before Christmas...And Lisbeth Salander Was Up to No Good...

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December 25, 2011
You and Will have both convinced me I need to see this one - never read the book though I intended to, and am looking forward to seeing the movie instead. Thank you for a great review!
December 26, 2011
The book itself is violent so expect the film to be the same. I saw the Swedish version through Amazon and it's violent but they left out a lot of back story. I'm hoping this latest is better.
 
December 25, 2011
Great review. I've seen both the Swedish film and have read all three of the books. I agree somewhat regarding the Swedish film since they cut so much out from the book. They completely got rid of the romantic link with Blomkvist and the publisher at Millenium, for example. I'm glad to read a review from someone who has read the books. Good work!
 
December 25, 2011
well, welcome back! Yup, your returns have always been sort of a treat. I liked this one too, it was well-directed and smooth, dark and sexy, but I preferred the Swedish version a little more. I guess it is just me, because I prefer my dark thrillers raw, imposing and edgy. Nice review!
 
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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 . September 28, 2012
A disgraced financial journalist, and a young antisocial computer hacker join forces to solve the 40 year old mystery of a teenage girl's disappearance. As they do so, they get drawn into serious crime and corruption, deadly family secrets, and a string of unsolved murders of young women spanning fifty years, which puts their own lives at unbelievable risk. Will they solve the mystery before they become history?    When I saw the original movie series about two years ago, I was …
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 …
Quick Tip by . September 26, 2012
Troubled but brilliant security firm agent works with a writer hired by a Swedish tycoon to solve a 40 year old mystery, the writer who she had just worked to discredit in the media only days before. Very heady and dramatic with high drama and emotion.
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Dragon Tattoo Take 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 …
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 …
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Ranked #35
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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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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