The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -

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  • Reviewed by:: Tim Janson
  • Rated:: R
  • Cast:: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright
  • Writer:: Stieg Larsson (novel), Steven Zallian (Screenplay)
  • Director:: David Fincher
  • Distributor:: Sony Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release:: 2011
  • Extras:: Audio Commentary
  • Series:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara is captivating

By Tim Janson     March 27, 2012

Films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tend to irk me…Oh don’t jump to the wrong conclusion, I loved the film.  And when Oscar time came around the film earned five nominations.  Sure most of these were in technical categories like sound mixing, editing (which it won for) While co-star Rooney Mara did get nominated for Best Actress you got the distinct feeling that they were just throwing fans of mainstream films a bone while drooling over dreck like “The Artist” and the fans who have actually seen that film…all seven of them.  Ahh Hollywood…you are a harsh mistress. 
Daniel Craig takes a break from playing James Bond to star in a far gritty role as Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist.  Blomkvist has had his career derailed after losing a libel case brought against him by corrupt businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an underground computer hacker, has compiled a background check on Blomkvist for a job that a wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) wants him to perform. 
Vanger unfolds a decades old mystery.  He wants to know what happened to his niece Harriet who disappeared 40 years earlier and is presumed dead.  Mikael finds himself caught up in a web of family disputes that go back for decades.  Most of the entire Vanger family lives on a private island, not speaking to each other and all with skeletons in their closet.  Salander’s story is told separately for the first half of the film.  A ward of the state due to emotional and mental instability, Lisbeth has been tormented throughout her life by figures of authority from her father, to her social worker who forces her into lewd sex acts.  
Separately their stories are captivating but the true chemistry begins when Mikael discovers the background report that Lisbeth prepared and brings her on as his research partner.  They discover that Harriet’s disappearance is only the beginning of a string of serial murders that involve deeply buried family secrets. 
There are actresses that play bad asses like Angelina Jolie and then there are those that truly seem like they are not acting.  Rooney Mara definitely calls into the latter category.  Maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet, she confronts her abusive case worker who is three times her size…and you almost feel sorry for the sleaze bag.  Her eyes are able to convey more character than most actresses could do in a similar role with far more dialog.  She is lurid, sexy, and chilling all in one package.  Her Oscar nomination was well-deserved.  Craig was fine as well in a more reserved role for him. 
Director David Fincher, who also helmed films such as “Seven” and “Fight Club”, masterfully navigates a plot that is filled with one bizarre twist after another but never becomes convoluted.  Despite the re-herrings that are thrown out, the one true disappointment of the film is almost anti-climactic as anyone who’s familiar with this particular actors body of work will know that they have a history of playing villainous roles and I was hoping for one more curveball that never came. The romantic chemistry between Mikael and Lisbeth seemed forced and needless but it’s something you can chalk up to her general “weirdness”. 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is bolstered by several outstanding supporting performances including Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, and Donald Sumpter.  The film is based upon the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson.  Both Craig and Mara have signed on to do two sequels: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.  And I would be remiss if I did not mention the abstract opening title sequence which is unlike anything you’ve seen before.


DVD Extras 


Audio Commentary with Director David Fincher.



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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 3/27/2012 12:35:43 AM

This movie was great. No need to compare it to the original which was great as well. You know what? I have two great versions of Girl with a Dragon Tatoo - and if I had the book then I'd have three. That's why I cant imagine people having issues with remakes or movie adaptations of things. If it's great or good then it's great or good you can enjoy more than one version of that particular "product" and if it's not...well, then you can ignore it. It doesn't take away from what's came before. I'm totally stealing this from somebody and I don't know who but for people to think that remakes or sequels or whatever ruined the original is totally stupid. That's like saying eating a crappy steak has ruined all the great steaks you've ate in the past. Sorry - it can't happen.

tjanson 3/27/2012 9:24:46 AM

Jaw...I agree.  I personally liked the U.S. Version of Let the Right One In much better than the Swedish version which i found to be very slow and plodding.

violator14 3/27/2012 10:17:43 AM

I saw this last night. I never thought i'd be so turned on by such an emo/rocker/gothic/crazy chick.....very intriguing character. Imagine my surprise when i realized it was the same chick from the Social Network that dumped Mark in the very beginning of the movie. I was like Whoa....

hanso 3/27/2012 10:25:43 AM

 shit was 2 long, shouldve gotten rid of the lis story.  i already know she is fuked up by how she looks, no need to see all the rape going on to comnfirm it.  otherwise good stuff.  

hanso 3/27/2012 10:31:56 AM

 jaw, if u go to a steakhouse order a steak its good.  next time u go the steak is bad.  guarantee u think  twice about going for 3rd time u dig.  check jordan out.  sure nothing changes his bulls yrs but his legacy woulve looked better with his last shot wiining a championship than taking a meaningless shot with the wizards.  samething with remakes except them bitches can actually eff stuff up by adding unnecessary shit to established cannon.  trust, the force worked better without midichlorians.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 3/27/2012 10:47:09 AM

But Hanso - the people that made the steaks are the same. Not the people making the remakes,prequels and sequels to the movies.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 3/27/2012 10:49:09 AM

And if it's a remake then it's not from the origin's canon. As for the Star Wars prequels it still didn't ruin the originals for me - I just think of the stuff I got from them. Films still the same. Well - except for the actual changes Lucas made to those films.

InnerSanctum 3/27/2012 11:40:36 AM

 I really liked this movie.  I just watched it the other night on Blu Ray.  Nice adaptation and as faithful as one could get to such dense source material.  

My one complaint.  SPOILERS You have the Daniel Craig in the film and you open with, what appears to be, a James Bondish music video sequence (although, the Zepplin song remake was way better than anything the Bond films have given us in decades.  Please take note producers.)  Then, at the end, she signs the letter to "M".  Both of those kind of took me out of the moment.  Not sure about the opening and why they would be so blatant (I believe she did sign it to "M" in the book, but still they should have been aware of the Bond connection.)  

All of that said, I think it was a very slick wand well made film.  It didn't have the gritty feel of the original, but the music/sound and acting lifted it to another level.  Very creepy.  

Hanso:  The rape was central to the theme of the story.  I carries a lot of weight in the book and transends to the other novels (hopefully, sequels.)  The whole point of the books was violence towards women.  

hanso 3/27/2012 11:57:04 AM

inner, i was just going off the movie but if u say it plays into the other books then ill take u at u word.  i wouldve also taken out the 10 minute music video in the beginning to make the flick shorter.

tjanson 3/27/2012 12:20:21 PM

I never have a problem with a film's length if it keeps me interested and this one did.

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