From the minute I saw the first trailer to David Fincher’s version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, I was psyched! From the stylised camerawork and quick cuts of scenes from the film, to the use of the menacing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, I just had to see “the feel-bad movie of Christmas”. One month later, after the film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards (Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing), I was more than anxious to see it for myself. I mean, it’s based off the critically-acclaimed 2009 Swedish film of the same name, and the successful novel of the same name, so it HAD to be good, right? Well….
Before I get to the review, I must mention the fact that I got into the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” craze ass-backwards i.e. I watched the American film, then the Swedish film a few days after. I still haven’t read the book or the other two books in Stieg Larsson’s “Millenium Trilogy” , and I’m not sure if I will….EVER. So keep in mind that this review is about the 2011 film and is in no way bashing the original Swedish film and book.
Good? Yes! Now on to the review…..
Mikael Blomkvist, co-owner of the political magazine “Millenium”, has just lost a libel case involving allegations he published about businessman Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Lisbeth Salander, computer hacker extraordinaire and the aforementioned “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, does an extensive background check on Mikael for Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of Vanger Industries. With the help of his lawyer Dirch Frode, Henrik requests assistance from Mikael for an important job – solving the disappearance (or possible murder) of his niece. To do this job, Mikael must spend his time on Henrik’s island estate until he solves the case.
Meanwhile, Lisbeth has problems of her own to deal with. Her legal guardian has suffered a stroke, and now she must stay with Nils Bjurman, a lawyer who seizes control of her finances. If I could describe Nils in two words, they’d be “perverted-ass motherfucker” (That’s three words. I know)! When Nils is asked for money by Lisbeth, he sexually abuses her, and pays her after the humiliating ordeals are over. But unknown to Nils, and known to the viewer by then, Lisbeth is a bad-ass motherfucker (That’s still three words. I know)! She fucks him up BAD. REALLY BAD. That’s all I have to say on that matter.
Anyhoo, Lisbeth is called on by Dirch to help Mikael in solving the case. They quickly form an unusual partnership, and relationship, with each other. Together, they will enter a dark world of corruption and crime unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
Mikael Blomkvist – Daniel Craig
Lisbeth Salander- Rooney Mara
Henrik Vanger – Christopher Plummer
Dirch Frode – Steven Berkoff
Nils Bjurman – Yorick van Wageningen
MY THOUGHTS: Just so you know, I am a huge fan of David Fincher’s films. I mean, he directed “Se7en” and “Fight Club”, two films that changed the way I looked at movies forever! And he made “The Social Network”, one of the best films of 2010. And don’t get me wrong – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is yet another well-made David Fincher film. Fincher creates a dark, neo-noirish world in this film with brilliant cinematography (which deserved an Oscar nomination), moody characters, ominous sound design (which should WIN an Oscar – I’m just saying) and a convoluted, yet engaging, plot. It looks and feels radically different from the superior Swedish version, which this one closely follows. The performances are great, but it’s Rooney Mara who steals the show. DURRRHHH! She’s nominated for Best Actress, for chrissake! Personally, I don’t consider her performance to be Oscar-worthy (even though it was a risky one), but if she does win the Oscar for Best Actress, I just may wind up eating my words. But what was the problem with this film, you ask? Well, simply put, it was OVER-HYPED!
From the way the trailer was done, anyone without knowledge of the plot of the original movie or book would think that “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was a dark, intense THRILLER. From the film’s creepily dark, and admittedly AWESOME, James Bond-ish opening title sequence set to the same song from the trailer (I wonder if this sequence was Daniel Craig’s idea, since he is now James Bond), I was expecting the same thing. But while watching the film, I realized that it was less of a fast-paced thriller and more of a slow-paced MYSTERY. Right there and then, my expectations were lowered. And I know I’m not the only one.
Ultimately, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was a mixed bag for me. Just like the original film, this remake is well-made, well-shot and well-acted. And yes, the film’s intense, disturbing scenes were really fucking intense and disturbing, even more than the Swedish version. But still, I left the film expecting more. From the film’s trailers and TV spots, and the positive word-of-mouth weeks after its release, I really thought that “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” would have been a highly intense film experience. Matter of fact, I bet you assumed the same thing, whether you read the books or not. But over-hyping the film doesn’t change the fact that it’s just about two individuals trying to solve a case. One just happens to have a really cool dragon tattoo on her back.
SHOULD I SEE THIS FILM? If you enjoyed (and I use this term loosely) the book and/or the Swedish film, then you should enjoy “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. If you haven’t read the book, or seen the Swedish film, and you really want to see what’s the big deal about David Fincher’s latest film, then proceed with caution. If you go into the film with lowered expectations, you’d probably appreciate it a lot more than I did. Perhaps after a couple more views, I may appreciate “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” as well. Or maybe when the Oscar buzz dies down. It’s not the first time that I disliked a film at first, and then grew to love it. And it definitely won’t be the last. But for now, I can say that in my opinion, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was aight.
The trailer is still fucking awesome, though! I’m just saying.
MY RATING – 3 out of 5 stars (“It was aight”)