The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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Remo D
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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Post by Remo D » Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:13 am

Okay, it’s once again time to tackle the “American remake” debate. Necessary? Worthwile? Too soon? At least I don’t have to go into any detail as regards THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO itself… you’ve probably read the books and/or seen the Swedish films, and if not, if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably read my previous reviews of same. Well, there’s no clean-cut answer to the debate. There have been truly godawful “Americanizations” of sensational foreign-language films (I still nominate POINT OF NO RETURN, the Bridget Fonda fiasco that had the temerity to represent NIKITA, as the low point in the field), but on the other hand, nobody who saw LET ME IN heralded it as anything less than a thoroughly honorable adaptation of source material that just so happened to have been filmed a bit too recently for comfort.
As I see it, David Fincher’s adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO falls between these two extremes, favoring the high end. Both film versions took necessary liberties with the awkward structure of the original novel. The best illustrative example comes in the form of the two-month prison hitch served by protagonist Mikael Blomkvist: in the book, it happened right in the middle of the action; in the Swedish film it was moved to the end of the story; and in the Fincher redux it’s dropped altogether. As expected, each film gleans some different elements from the book: as with LET ME IN, the new film is not a “remake” of the first one so much as an alternate adaptation of the same source material. (But of course you know why it was made—it’s simply because most English-speaking viewers still refuse to watch subtitled films, leaving a vast untapped audience to tempt.)
Daniel Craig is dependably good as Blomkvist, but the real reason to see the new film is the revelation of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. It takes one hell of a gutsy, talented actress to tackle such a meaty character, and I was duly impressed (not to mention relieved that Ms. Mara no longer has to consider her part in the awful NOES remake as her biggest role). The new movie reverts to the book structure to the point that our two lead characters don’t meet until just about the halfway point (this is a long movie, BTW), and quite frankly, Craig’s scenes aren’t nearly as interesting or compelling as Mara’s scenes. Meanwhile, while it would be completely inappropriate of me to suggest that the film is at all “mild” or “toned down,” I must confess that I thought that the director of SE7EN was going to strike a lot harder when it came to the rough (but not gratuitous) material. I sensed a concession to a mainstream popular audience (or at least an audience primed on such previously verboten TV fodder as CSI and the like).
Fincher’s take isn’t “softer” as in PG-13, and the term certainly doesn’t apply to Lisbeth’s response to male predation (remember, the title of the original novel was actually “Men Who Hate Women”)—she’s still a firebrand. However, her eventual partnership with Blomkvist reveals a mellow streak exclusive to this rendition: it’s no longer a case of “this is what I want now and don’t expect anything from me later” and it leads to an unexpectedly bittersweet fadeout: I’m still not sure what I think of this approach and expect I won’t know until I see how it’s developed as the American series inevitably continues.
In all, I prefer the previous Swedish adaptation, but if you’re a fan of the DRAGON TATTOO series in any format, you shouldn’t pass this one up simply for being an alternate English-language adaptation. Rooney Mara’s performance deserves to be seen and it’s quite enough to rate a recommendation from me.


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Darth Tanner
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Re: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Post by Darth Tanner » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:42 am

I saw this in the theatre over the weekend (first theatrical viewing in nearly 2 months). Then I finally caught up to the Swedish adaptation last night. Although the Swedish version was a bit more faithful to the book, I have to say that I prefer David Fincher's version a bit more. The movie was handsomely produced and I'm glad they decided to also shoot this version in Sweden. The cast was terrific throughout. I thought that Daniel Craig was a good choice for Blomkvist. Rooney Mara also did a much better job here than she did in the godawful remake of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (which she could now safely omit from her resume). Despite the long running time, I didn't feel the movie dragged at all and I enjoyed every bit of it. I'm hoping that they'll keep David Fincher on board if they decide to adapt the rest of the series.

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Remo D
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Re: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Post by Remo D » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:22 am

So far (and not just here), I tend to notice that people who've seen both movies tend to prefer the one they saw first... interesting. I wonder if that will maintain...

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Darth Tanner
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Re: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Post by Darth Tanner » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:15 pm

Remo D wrote:So far (and not just here), I tend to notice that people who've seen both movies tend to prefer the one they saw first... interesting. I wonder if that will maintain...
Well I'll be able to test that theory if they continue the series. I plan to see the Swedish versions of GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST very soon. So this time I'll be ready when/if the American version of the next movie comes out.


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