The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 78%
Overall Rating
Ranked #276
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This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, as he investigates the disappearance of a weary patriarch's niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined. --TMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 27, 2011
Rarely do I sit down for a movie this oblivious to the material at hand. I have avoided all mentions of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" like the plague. I never read the books - never even read reviews of the books. I have never watched the Swedish films - never even read reviews of the Swedish films. Once I discovered David Fincher was going to be directing the 'American' version of the first book, I decided to wait and experience it with fresh eyes. And, I do believe this decision was a correct one. Having nothing to compare it against, I can only comment on what I consider the essence of the film, which always makes for more objectivity.

I didn't love this film. It had everything going for it and - technically - it was consistently remarkable. I cannot think of a single area in which the film (as a film) suffered. It just didn't resonate with me. I went in expecting a new and fresh approach on...something. What I got was a pretty cookie-cutter mystery that was handled with care and with precision by a masterful director. I found myself appreciating Fincher's direction of the film rather than the film material itself. Maybe some people would consider that a good thing. Me - not so much.

In his best performance to date, Daniel Craig stars as Mikael Blomkvist, a tireless journalist who has just lost one hell of a large settlement to a businessman who claimed he had been falsely discredited. Reeling from the loss, Blomkvist is summoned by the wealthy Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). Henrik wants Mikael to solve the murder of his niece from 30-years prior and believes someone in his family to be responsible. Elsewhere, we meet Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a troubled and complex young girl who works as an investigator on the side and is also a ward of the state. She does drugs, drinks, has sex with anyone and is one of the best investigators around. She eventually ends up joining Mikael in his quest for answers.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is one in a series of three books but this first film is rather stand-alone and would hold up just as well without the sequels. It does leave somewhat of a continuation but it's nothing that definitively suggests we're going to see the sequels coming around the bend. And it's doubtful that Fincher would helm them anyways. So what we have here is a singular piece of film-making. And David Fincher really does excel here. The film benefits from his two directing styles. Some of the film is dark and dread-filled like "Se7en" and the rest (most notably the flashbacks) are very lush and classical like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". We get the best of Fincher here, borrowing from all of his trademark styles and firing on all cylinders.

Just take the pace of the film. It locks in at just over two and a half hours and just when we, the audience, start to get restless, Fincher picks up the pace of the film to a kinetic pace. It's like he can tell what we're thinking before we even realize it ourselves. And his decision to have Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score the film is once again as inspired as it was with "The Social Network". They have such an uncanny knack for building such dread and tension with their music. A lesser director would have turned this film into another lame serial killer film but Fincher is better than that and he knows how to handle this kind of material.

And that brings me back around, finally, to the material itself. It was not fresh enough for me. I am sick and tired of the cliched scene where the killer is revealed and has the protagonist at their mercy and decided to then explain exactly how he/she did what they did and why. I don't think this is realistic. And all it did was remind me that I had seen this material over and over before. The material I had not seen before was the brutal and graphic sexual sequences early in the film that were masterfully handled and equally disturbing.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" can only be described as a good film. But it fell short for me. Fans of the books will no doubt swoon over this one and I am happy for them. And I will see the sequels if they ever do come; and, if they don't, I will watch the Swedish films. 7/10.
Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 01/15/2012, 01:07 AM
I was very disappointed on how they did the ending on this one. Mikael and Lisabeths relationship was way more complicated then this and I thought it was done poorly. However, it was still a good film despite that. 8/10
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