22 December 2011
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Most will expect the director of Se7en and Fight Club to bring the David Fincher touch to the Lisbeth Salander story, but the new GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is quite tame compared to the original.
When it was announced THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO would get a Hollywood version, it was anticipated that it would be a watered down adaptation for conservative Americans. However, when David Fincher's name was attached to direct the American adaptation of Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel, the hope was that he would maintain the edginess to the dark tale of the unlikely heroine and reporter's quest to uncover the sordid deaths of several women.
That's not to say THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO isn't good entertainment. It certainly has great production value, stellar performances from Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, and Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer (Beginners), and a great score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The gritty trailer, however, set up the film to be much more in tune with Fincher's Se7en. Instead, the world in this adaptation feels a lot more polished and not as sordid like in the setting presented by Neils Arden Oplev's Swedish version. Actually, Oplev's GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO feels more like Fincher's world in Se7en. In Fincher's movie, you don't get that same feeling of disgust from the graphic and violent rape scenes that you get from watching Oplev's rendition. Both scenes in each film are certainly hard to view but in Oplev's you get the feeling of wanting to look away because of its horror. And that's what made the Swedish version a standout - the ugliness of the story and the characters that made you cringe in your seat. That's missing in this re-telling.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was only disappointing in that you have great expectations for Fincher to take it to a new level which didn't happen. Sometimes watching the original film is a hindrance when seeing a new remake because of the constant comparison going on in your head. While it's not a remake, it felt like I had seen this film before scene by scene which prompts a flashback to the Oplev film.
Fincher definitely presents prettier landscapes in this version with the contrast of the European metropolis and the remote island where Lisbeth and Mikael travel to investigate the murders and disappearance of the family member. In Oplev's film, the island feels like a prison with the dysfunctional family occupying it. Oplev's world is not one I would want to visit. The actors in this Hollywood film are certainly better looking than Oplev's adaptation.
Oplev's actors including Noomi Rapace were a lot more edgier looking and showed the markings of a rough life. Noomi's Lisbeth was far more menacing than Rooney Mara's vulnerable Lisbeth. But Rooney's Lisbeth was a bit more likable as the not so tough rebel. Both portrayals are equally good.
The opening sequence to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was trés cool playing over Karen O's rendition of the Led Zeppelin tune Immigrant Song, but it looked like something out of a James Bond's opener but instead gold-colored paint, black tar envelopes figures and images of a dragon. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the Academy Award winning composers for David Fincher's The Social Network, provide appropriate music for the eerie drama although at one point, the music overpowers the scene.
On it's own merits, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a very entertaining film with great cinematography, acting and a thrilling storyline. But it would have been interesting to see what David Fincher would've done different with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO early on in his filmmaking career.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is now playing in movie theaters.