323 of 351 people found the following review helpful
Better than expected,
This review is from: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [DVD]  (DVD)
A disgraced financial journalist, and a young antisocial computer hacker join forces to solve the 40 year old mystery of a teenage girl's disappearance. As they do so, they get drawn into serious crime and corruption, deadly family secrets, and a string of unsolved murders of young women spanning fifty years, which puts their own lives at unbelievable risk. Will they solve the mystery before they become history?
When I saw the original movie series about two years ago, I was awestruck by mostly the awesome acting of Noomi rapace, and the movie's visual style, and it's inherent raunchiness, which is more common in stylish European thrillers than slick Hollywood movies. When I heard there would be an English version, I thought this would be a hard act to follow, and without Noomi Rapace as the female lead would not be the same, because she was so much an integral element of the original movies success.
In the meantime I listened to the audiobook version featuring Simon Vance, which I also found quite enjoyable. He does all the voices including Lisbeth with a slight Swedish accent that veers toward cockney. The story is much more detailed with many elements glossed over or left out of the original movie.
So, when I heard it was about to be released, and saw the trailer, and understood the pedigree behind this movie with David Fincher directing, and Daniel Craig as Blomquist, I made a point of going to the evening show before its official opening today.
Inevitably, one cannot help but compare with the previous experience. Definitely, the fact that this is in English is the greatest justification for the remake, so for many people who are distracted by subtitles this will automatically be a better experience.
Steven Zaillian, the screenwriter, previously won an Oscar for writing Schindlers List. From a storytelling point of view, it stays close to the original story, with much more detail, in that respect exceeding the original. In other respects too it exceeds the original. I particularly liked for example the soundtrack with its darker gothic metal tones by Trent Reznor, and the opening sequence with somewhat James Bond style imagery although darker, and I loved the storytelling.
This movie completes the full arc of the story, whereas I felt unclear in the original about the full circle story against Wennerstrom. This movie introduces the cat, and Cecilia Vanger as a character. We get to meet some of the characters we don't meet in the original.
David Fincher goes to great lengths not to have it be a remake, having each scene be somewhat different, so in only one scene did I have slight deja vu, which I appreciated. This movie is also raunchier, you'll know what I mean when you see it and focuses more on the relationship between Blomquist and Salander. It also has occasional humor. The scene where Michael is hunted shocked me in my seat, and there are several shocking scenes in the movie, including the crime against Lisabeth by her guardian. This is a harrowing scene as is the basement scene, although I felt that particular one was more harrowing in the original. In another movie, Zodiac, Fincher delivers one of the most suspenseful basement scenes ever when an investigative journalist is in the house of the suspected Zodiac killer.
Perhaps the single best thing about this version is that it captures the intention of the original author. Apparently, when Stieg Larson was a teenager he witnessed a gang rape of a teenage girl, and did not intervene to stop it. He was always troubled by this, second guessing his behavior, and worked as an independent investigative journalist, and this was partly his motivation for writing the Millenium Trilogy series which has now reportedly sold over 60 million copies, and the great visual art of 4 movies.
In fact, he gave the character Lisbeth the same first name as the original victim, so when Blomquist proposes to Lisbeth that she help him find a killer of women, one senses that Larson would be very pleased about this.
I liked also seeing Robin Wright as Blomquists partner, and while I still give the original movie the cool points for style and the visuals, I think many people will without my preconceptions warm to Rooney Mara who does give a great performance, in her unique way as this antisocial yet extremely resourceful and intelligent computer hacker.
I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.
I think you will love it, and I hope this review was helpful.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jan 2012 12:45:12 GMT
Thank you, your review is very helpful. I have read, listened to and watched the Swedish versions and was initially reluctant to buy this film because I cannot help but to think of Noomi Rapace as the lead actress. When I read the trilogy and subsequently watched the films, I thought the casting of Lisbeth a master stroke. She, Rapace, almost seemed made for the part; as if Larson had written it with her in mind. I think she was outstanding in the part and could not envisage a replacement. I was unaware that Larson had witnessed such a terrible event and, thanks to you, can now see why Lisbeth was such an intriguing and, dare I say, compelling and complex character. You will understand my reluctance to 'ruin' a good thing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, your review has changed my mind. Daniel Craig is a good actor and I think of smaller budget films like Layer Cake and so had no concerns about his part but Lisbeth is the central character in my view and so following Rapace would be no mean feat for an actress. Yes, without subtitles the film will be easier to follow mind you I thought the subtitles lend well to the European feel of the film and actually enjoyed that sense of the 'foreign' film element to it.
So, I will get this film and hope that I can see past my rather blinkered views and - excuse the management speak - will embrace the change. Good reviews like your one is what they are all about.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2012 06:41:42 GMT
Thank you for your detailed feedback. I appreciate knowing what it is about my review that was helpful. Rooney Mara just got nominated for an Oscar. She did have a hard act to follow. Perhaps Noomi Rapace is wondering about turning down this role, but apparently she had live d this character for two years, and needed to something new. So, she's in Sherlock Homes, and Michael Nyquist is in Mission Impossible 4.
Although I watch many foreign movies, some people I know would refuse to see the original movie simply because it was subtitled.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2012 15:47:03 GMT
No, thank you. It takes a brave actress to turn down an almost certain winner and it speaks volumes for her to do so. She was, in the part, a compelling figure. One almost immediately was on her side and it made me think of my cold and hard school days, reading Thomas Hardy, who had strong women in his stories at a time when other writers focused on male leads. I used to read Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories as a means of escaping the school literature, except 'Joby' by Stan Barstow which was outstanding, and so grew up on Sherlock. The BBC series has. so far, been a very good modern take on things although I have not followed the films. Perhaps I will now. I have never much had a problem with subtitles and think many miss out because they refuse to watch a film with them. This is a pity as you will know because many a good film is not in English. Take 'Downfall' for example: I thought it an excellent film and the subtitles were, I think, fundamental to grasping the power of the story contributing to the air of fear and resignation of the circumstances. I certainly know people who would not watch a subtitled film. Their loss is our gain. Many thanks and regards.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2012 19:18:52 GMT
Thank you. So Downfall looks interesting. I will add that to my to watch list. Yes, I do like so many of these foreign movies, especially when many of the Hollywood movies are getting so formuliac, as Jim Carrey says, 'beating the same idea to death.
I just got through watching A very long engagement with Audrey Tautou. I really Verhoevens Black Book, ana amazin movie, and Karakter, and The Lives of Others are all great movies.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2012 19:44:27 GMT
Great suggestions. I have seen The Lives of Others which is a superb film. I recently obtained the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and did not feel it had the atmosphere of the original drama. However, I was very tired when i watched it and dozed off so this may account for my view. I will watch it again when more awake so as not to write it off unfairly. You mentioned that you listen to audio books. I am now tending to listen to more books than I read. I don't know if you have come across William L Shirer's 'Berlin Diaries' and The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany, both on audio format. Both interesting accounts of this journalist's experiences in Nazi Germany. I would also recommend 'The Big Short Inside the Doomsday Machine' by Michael Lewis for an interesting and, I think, fairly accurate perspective on the reasons for the current financial crisis. For a financial read it is very good. I will look up your suggestions as I am at a stage where I am trying to avoid the basic produce. I am surprised such a quote is attributable to Jim Carey who has done quite well for himself in the scheme of things. I must say I find him quite irritating - just not my type of humour although this is probably more to do with the type of film rather than his acting abilities because he is a not a bad actor. Now to find a few decent films. Regards
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2012 16:22:23 GMT
Jim Carrey was referring to a particular role he played in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. I think he said to be exact: 'It's so refreshing to find an idea that hasn't been beaten to death.'
Thank you. I will keep those in mind.
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2012 17:30:37 GMT
I have just ordered a couple of your suggestions and look forward to them. You know perhaps that quote is worthy of an Amazon discussion of its own? At this moment, I cannot think of an idea that has not been beaten to death. Maybe the idea of space and eternity hasn't? But in a film context, it is ever more difficult to find films that reach the commercial market that are not based on a expected generated income concept rather than an idea for a story. Still, looking for the latter is part of the experience.
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2012 12:01:34 GMT
Robert W says:
Very good review. I just need to mention that Noomi Rapace was never offered the role in Finchers film (or even considered for that matter). I think a lot of people confuse the fact that there was a fan group headed by Roger Ebert that campaigned to have her reprise the role... but she said even if she was asked (which again she wasn't) that she wouldn't/couldn't do it anyway.
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2012 20:07:25 GMT
Thank you for clearing that up. I have checked into it. It seems that she wished to diversify, had lived this role and this character for almost two years. She did not indicate she was offered this role, and it would appear that she was not.
I totally understand that an actress would not wish to be identified with a single role.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2012 19:49:09 BDT
Thanks for your detailed and unbiased review, I too loved this movie but have not seen the Swedish version. I plan on getting the Blu Ray but am wondering does it also include a digital copy as well as standard DVD version of this movie. Also Rooney Mara's performance was outstanding and probably worthy of an Oscar. Another David Fincher Masterpiece!!