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Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Dec. 13, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by reclusive Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the forty year-old disappearance of his niece, Harriet. Heís aided by an enigmatic investigator, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) Ė a young hacker with a tortured history. Together, the two manage to tie Harrietís disappearance together with a string of brutal murders that have been ravaging the countryside for half a century.

REVIEW: David Fincherís variation on THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is easily one of the most hotly anticipated films of the holiday season. The late Stieg Larssonís series of Blomkvist/Salander mysteries are three of the most widely read novels of the last decade, and they were previously adapted into a wildly popular series of Swedish films, that made a star out of leading lady Noomi Rapace.


Considering the indelible impression Rapace made in the previous films, many assumed that Fincher was crazy to embark on his own adaptation (in collaboration with producer-extraordinaire Scott Rudin). The film was going to live or die depending on the casting of Salander, and when Rooney Mara (who had a small, but important role in THE SOCIAL NETWORK) was announced for the part, many questioned his decision.

Now that people are actually getting to see the film, the general impression is that Fincher was right all along, and Mara was an inspired choice. Considering how well Rapace played the role, fans of the series (Iím one of them) will be pleased to know that under Fincherís direction, Maraís approach is far from being a carbon copy. While I think Rapaceís Salander is more dangerous than Maraís, she nonetheless brings a feral quality to the role which is hers alone. Rapace always struck me as physically strong, which isnít the way Salander was described in the books (rather, sheís lithe and cunning) , and Mara looks more like the type of person who could be (wrongly) perceived by others as being weak. In the books, Salander is constantly being attacked by people that underestimate her due to her appearance, and Mara, in a way, lived out that aspect of Salander when she received the role and was attacked by the press as being unsuitable. Sheís spot-on, and perhaps even a contender for a best actress nomination.


By comparison, Daniel Craig takes a backseat, despite getting more screen time than Mara. This is similar to the novels, as Salander tended to dominate the stories once she was introduced. Blomkvist is a much more passive character than Craigís James Bond, and he wisely avoids bringing the rough-hewn Bond approach to this role, playing him as a more sensitive, intellectual type- who actually has to rely on the gutsier Salander for protection once they find themselves embroiled in danger.

The rest of the cast is similarly ideal - with special mention due to Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger - who dominates a good chunk of the ending. I also got a big smile on my face seeing eighties action-villain extraordinaire Steven Berkoff show up (in a rare sympathetic role) as Henrik Vangerís trusted lawyer, who acts as a good between for Blomkvist and the family. It has to be said, 82 year-old Christopher Plummer fills Vangerís shoes perfectly; perhaps not as perfectly as Max Von Sydow would have, but still. Plummerís bound to get an Oscar nomination this year, the only question is whether it will be for this or BEGINNERS.

Of course, the real star of the show is director David Fincher. While this is probably the most mainstream thing heís done since THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, it fits right into his wheelhouse. After all, who better to bring a story of Swedish sadism to life than the director of SE7EN? Fans of the book will no doubt be relieved to hear that Fincher DOES NOT tone down the grislier aspects of the book. In fact, Iíd wager he lingers on the violence more than Niels Arden Oplev did in the Swedish version.


Pairing up with Steven Zaillian, who adapted the novel into a screenplay, Fincher adheres very closely to the source novel- almost too closely. If any aspect of the film disappoints me, itís that I hoped Fincher might take a few more risks with the material- but this is faithful to a fault. Other than a few bits of business, this is a remarkably close adaptation, meaning this is a lengthy film (157 minutes according to the press kit).

Fincher brings two things to the film that distinguishes it from the solid Swedish adaptation. One is the great cinematography courtesy of Jeff Cronenweth, with this looking like THE SOCIAL NETWORK by way of SE7EN mixed with a bit of Ingmar Bergman (appropriate to the Swedish setting). The other is the absolutely amazing score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which gives the film a pulse and energy it might not have had otherwise. I especially loved their use of Reznorís cover (with Karen O) of Led Zeppelinís ĎImmigrant Songí over the Bond-like opening credits. Fantastic.

I really canít imagine a better adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO than this, and I certainly expect it to be a major success- which pretty much guarantees adaptations of the next two novels. The only question is whether Fincher will return. One hopes, as but the type heís done with Larssonís work, this could be an iconic series.

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:50PM on 12/21/2011
My favorite film of the year thus far (still haven't seen the descendants hugo and extremely loud..). Do not hate me but I did not like the swedish films, but liked Noomi Rapace's performance. The problems I had with direction was completely addressed with this film. David Fincher is the king of moody atmosphere and the opening sequence was completely badass. Mara was amazing and rivals Rapace's performance. Her face says everything she does not say with words which is a feat among itself. The
My favorite film of the year thus far (still haven't seen the descendants hugo and extremely loud..). Do not hate me but I did not like the swedish films, but liked Noomi Rapace's performance. The problems I had with direction was completely addressed with this film. David Fincher is the king of moody atmosphere and the opening sequence was completely badass. Mara was amazing and rivals Rapace's performance. Her face says everything she does not say with words which is a feat among itself. The only thing I am having a problem with is giving it a 9 or 10/10. I may have to see the film again, but as you can tell I am leaning towards a 10.
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1:03PM on 12/20/2011
Interesting 1st "Girl" was played by Noomi & now by Rooney!
Interesting 1st "Girl" was played by Noomi & now by Rooney!
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12:56PM on 12/20/2011
Great review. After seeing all 3 of the Swedish "Girl" flics I maintain the story lines are very hard to follow unless you've read the books. Wondering if Fincher has overcome that obstacle with his telling of the story?
Great review. After seeing all 3 of the Swedish "Girl" flics I maintain the story lines are very hard to follow unless you've read the books. Wondering if Fincher has overcome that obstacle with his telling of the story?
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+0
3:01AM on 12/20/2011
Just had my screening this evening. It's not as good as the original Swedish version, but it was a decent telling of the story. Here's my full review:

[link]
Just had my screening this evening. It's not as good as the original Swedish version, but it was a decent telling of the story. Here's my full review:

[link]
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6:53AM on 12/14/2011
Agreed, great review.
But shouldn't that 8 be a 9? Sure seemed it'd be while reading it.
Agreed, great review.
But shouldn't that 8 be a 9? Sure seemed it'd be while reading it.
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+2
12:55AM on 12/14/2011

More Risks??

As soon as I found out Fincher was directing this movie, I instantly bought the book and read through it and have been VERY excited for this movie since. According to the reviews, the trailers, and any other promo/exposure the film has had, this movie looks like a SPOT ON ACCURATE adaptation.

I enjoyed your review for the most part but you say you wish Fincher would have taken more "risks" with the script?" With the way so many other directors adapt books, tv shows, games, and other source
As soon as I found out Fincher was directing this movie, I instantly bought the book and read through it and have been VERY excited for this movie since. According to the reviews, the trailers, and any other promo/exposure the film has had, this movie looks like a SPOT ON ACCURATE adaptation.

I enjoyed your review for the most part but you say you wish Fincher would have taken more "risks" with the script?" With the way so many other directors adapt books, tv shows, games, and other source material, I'd say Fincher took a huge risk in making a 100% faithful movie, especially after the much worshipped and inaccurate Swedish trilogy caused many people to call this adaptation an unnecessary American "remake."

What more do you want from him??
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12:01AM on 12/14/2011
To be honest, I'm more excited to see this than I am for Christmas!
To be honest, I'm more excited to see this than I am for Christmas!
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11:24PM on 12/13/2011

credit where credit's due

I've criticized you (a lot) before, but I have to say, excellent review! Among other things, his made me even more excited than I already was about this movie!
I've criticized you (a lot) before, but I have to say, excellent review! Among other things, his made me even more excited than I already was about this movie!
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9:28PM on 12/13/2011
Can't wait for this movie & the Swedish films were fantastic & actually made me interested in wanting to read the books. I was happy when Fincher was announced as director of the American version, also I never questioned the casting of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth since a bigger name actress would not have been believable in such a role. Great review though & looking forward to seeing this come next week.
Can't wait for this movie & the Swedish films were fantastic & actually made me interested in wanting to read the books. I was happy when Fincher was announced as director of the American version, also I never questioned the casting of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth since a bigger name actress would not have been believable in such a role. Great review though & looking forward to seeing this come next week.
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+3
7:42PM on 12/13/2011

Soo looking forward to this

I loved the books, loved Niels Oplev's adaptation...

and i don't believe Fincher will disappoint in the least
I loved the books, loved Niels Oplev's adaptation...

and i don't believe Fincher will disappoint in the least
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6:30PM on 12/13/2011
Twas the best thing I've seen this year since Drive. I'd personally give it a 9/10.
Twas the best thing I've seen this year since Drive. I'd personally give it a 9/10.
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7:39PM on 12/13/2011
how've you seen it already??
how've you seen it already??
6:52AM on 12/14/2011
How has he already seen TGWTDT? Like this:

"I've already seen part 1 of The Hobbit."

Easy as that.
How has he already seen TGWTDT? Like this:

"I've already seen part 1 of The Hobbit."

Easy as that.
12:38AM on 12/15/2011
Still doesn't say how... I support the films i love, so if it has to do with downloading films illegally i have nothing to do with that shit. Easy as that!
Still doesn't say how... I support the films i love, so if it has to do with downloading films illegally i have nothing to do with that shit. Easy as that!
6:27AM on 12/18/2011
I meant that he's lying his little testicles off.
I meant that he's lying his little testicles off.
5:22PM on 12/13/2011
Great review as usual, my good man!

Just curious: which version do you prefer? The Swedish film or this American re-adaptation. Or would you say they're about equal?
Great review as usual, my good man!

Just curious: which version do you prefer? The Swedish film or this American re-adaptation. Or would you say they're about equal?
Your Reply:



5:10PM on 12/13/2011
I will definitely check this out, but the Swedish version will stay in my heart.
I will definitely check this out, but the Swedish version will stay in my heart.
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1:29PM on 12/13/2011
If the remake of Let the Right One In is any indication of how this movie will be received, then I don't see it tearing up the box office. Hopefully it didn't cost too much money to make.
If the remake of Let the Right One In is any indication of how this movie will be received, then I don't see it tearing up the box office. Hopefully it didn't cost too much money to make.
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10:12AM on 12/13/2011
David Fincher has a tendency to take the most dubious projects, and make them all sorts of amazing! Glad to see this is not the exception!
David Fincher has a tendency to take the most dubious projects, and make them all sorts of amazing! Glad to see this is not the exception!
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10:04AM on 12/13/2011
I am very pleased with this review i trust Chris' review more than any other critics opinion and i really cant wait to see this. I really would hope Fincher plans to return to direct the next too. WHy direct the first one and assemble a great cast then not do the remaining two. That would be a great disappointment!
I am very pleased with this review i trust Chris' review more than any other critics opinion and i really cant wait to see this. I really would hope Fincher plans to return to direct the next too. WHy direct the first one and assemble a great cast then not do the remaining two. That would be a great disappointment!
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5:20PM on 12/13/2011
+ for kissing Chris's ass.
+ for kissing Chris's ass.
9:55AM on 12/13/2011

Umm....

...you wrote: "While this is probably the most mainstream thing heís done since THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON" -- errr, unless I'm mistaken he's only done one other film since then? Not trying to be a dick, just not really sure what you were trying to get across there, because it's not like Fincher has this reputation for having strayed from the mainstream. He's always been a mainstream director. The Social Network was mainstream. Doesn't mean the quality isn't there! Looking forward to
...you wrote: "While this is probably the most mainstream thing heís done since THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON" -- errr, unless I'm mistaken he's only done one other film since then? Not trying to be a dick, just not really sure what you were trying to get across there, because it's not like Fincher has this reputation for having strayed from the mainstream. He's always been a mainstream director. The Social Network was mainstream. Doesn't mean the quality isn't there! Looking forward to this, although I still just think the story itself isn't that great, and a lot of the positive reviews on RT so far even mention this as one of the film's only real flaws.
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10:44AM on 12/13/2011
ZING!
ZING!
8:55AM on 12/13/2011

Darius Khondji

Was the DOP of Se7en. Still can't wait for this film to hit Australian cinemas though!
Was the DOP of Se7en. Still can't wait for this film to hit Australian cinemas though!
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8:50AM on 12/13/2011
Wanna see it!
Wanna see it!
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8:49AM on 12/13/2011

Great News

Im so glad this is getting good reviews, stating that Fincher did a great job on it. Ive been excited for this all year, 7 days left... :P
Im so glad this is getting good reviews, stating that Fincher did a great job on it. Ive been excited for this all year, 7 days left... :P
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