Thursday, December 22, 2011

Movie with Abe: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by David Fincher
Released December 21, 2011

When a movie is a remake of another film, not to mention one released within the past two years, it’s hard not to make comparisons. Additionally, it’s usually the first cinematic version of a story that makes a more lasting impression, and the remake, more often than not, is less impressive than the original. In the case of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” all three Swedish installments made their way to the United States in 2010, and now David Fincher’s reimagined version makes its debut. The Swedish and American productions are similar in many ways, with several notable and distinct differences.

The standout of this film is the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, Rooney Mara. After stealing her two scenes away from Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network,” Mara burrows herself deep beneath the surface of disturbed hacker Lisbeth Salander, imbuing her with a personality and sense of humor that her Swedish counterpart didn’t quite possess. She shines especially in some of the film’s toughest scenes, and out-acts an otherwise flat cast, with the exception of the dependable Stellan Skarsgard, who appears as Vanger Group head Martin Vanger. Daniel Craig, who has always been able to effortlessly enhance action movies, doesn’t do much here in a quiet and unengaging role as co-protagonist Mikael Blomkvist.

Due to the nature of its subject matter, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has to be an edgy film. The furiously-scored, graphic, strange opening credits establish a tone of grunginess and grotesqueness not entirely befitting of the film that ensues. Some story elements less emphasized in the Swedish film, pertaining mainly to Mikael’s personal life and the varied Vanger family members, while other details, particularly from the case of the Vanger case being investigated by Mikael, are less embellished. The story as a whole feels tamer and less disquieting, which makes its more gravely unsettling moments feel out of place. Yet there is still value in its style, and the energetic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Oscar winners last year for their music from “The Social Network,” helps to create a certain mood. As its own film, this adaptation is a decent, if not entirely fast-paced thriller, but knowing just how fantastic the Swedish version was diminishes its impact, as does putting the two side by side for analysis. There is definitely value in Fincher’s interpretation, and its events and visualizations aren’t easy to forget.


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