Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 5 out of 5

To prepare myself for the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I watched the 2009 Swedish version in order to compare them.  Believe it or not, there isn't much different between the two except this one is in English (yet, somehow still takes place in Europe--thankfully the entire country transferred all their newspapers, documents and language) and, of course, the cast and crew are different...duh!

Even in a pair of Harry Potter glasses, Daniel Craig is more handsome than I am.

If you caught my review of the Swedish version, you know the story is about a publicly shamed journalist who is hired by an older gentleman trying to discover the truth about a loved one's disappearance years ago.  Is she dead?  Did she join a cult or did her homeplanet call for her return?  He doesn't know, so he hires Mikael Blomvist to find out the truth.  While digging for said truth, he ends up teaming with an eccentric goth girl named Lisbeth who, after handling some personal shit in her life (personal being a rapist pig in charge of her finances) helps Mikael...and since this is a movie, the truth they discover is much more frightening and dangerous than the fact the girl went out for smokes and got lost for 30 plus years.

Congratulations Fincher, you made the already hard to watch rape scenes in the original
even worse in this.

For the most part, not much in the form of storytelling has changed from the Swedish to the American version, however, the presentation by director David Fincher, music from Trent Reznor and an amazing cast made this film the superior of the two--and don't think for one second I like this one more because it's American and in English.  I have no problem reading subtitles and I don't listen to Toby Keith so I don't automatically get patriot with everything that is American comes out.  In fact, this is a rare case where I actually enjoy the domestic remake more than the foreign original.

"It's not a phase...this is who I am!!!"
YES!  Re-used a joke from my review of the original!

I don't know what freaky shit these guys are into
but count me in!!!
David Fincher, the amazing director behind such modern-day classics as Fight Club, Se7en, and The Social Network is using his dark and brooding style to create a heavier atmosphere that was lacking in the original--Fincher is even somehow able to make bright snow-covered scenery look bleak and foreboding!  Add to the fact he once again utilizes Nine Inch Nails frontman and creator Trent Reznor to make the amazing mood-creating unique music that got him an Oscar for The Social Network and you have a recipe for a great flippin' movie!  Seriously, when I bought Nine Inch Nail's first album "Pretty Hate Machine," I never once expected the man screaming the lyrics "head like a hole" would ever one day go on to win an Academy Award.  But the man freaking deserves it as he is a musical genius and, occasionally, can outdo Fincher's scenes with his tension created sounds.  And try to sit down and figure out if it's Fincher's vision or Reznor's music that makes the rape scenes harder to sit through in this version than the original.  And check out the title sequence with this epic Led Zepplin cover...

That sequence pretty much sets the bar high for the entire film!

I was going to write a joke but I got
lost in Daniel's eyes.
However, in my opinion, the strongest aspect this film has--even stronger than Fincher's directing and Reznor's tunes?  Yes!--is the cast!  I've said it before and I'll say it again but I have a heterosexual man-crush on Daniel Craig and he's in this one, taking a break from being the best James Bond and being this generation's Steve McQueen, to take over the role of Mikael from Michael Nyqvist.  Craig is an amazing talent and really delivers as Blomvist.  You're quick to forget that in other films he's kicking ass and not even bothering with the taking of the names as he comes off as a...a normal person.  A weak, potential victim of an individual who gets in over his head and his performance and body language quickly sucks you in and you forget that he's fought aliens as a cowboy and is James Freaking Bond.

Christopher Plummer...can I adopt you to be my grandpa?

Backing up Craig is Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, the man who hires Blomvist to find the missing girl.  Plummer has a stellar career so you know he's going to kick ass going into it but matching Craig's performance on the amazing scale is Stellan Skarsgard.  Watching the scenes he and Craig shared together was like watching two dragons battling!  It was both beautiful and amazing at the same time...with just a hint of malice to boot!

Stellan is an amazing actor and his name is even cooler!

The only real complaint I have about the film would be having Rooney Mara play Lisbeth.  In the original, Noomi Rapace was the eccentric goth girl with the rape problem (being raped is a major problem!) and she did the job great--but so does Mara.  The major difference is Rapace is a little easier on the eyes.  Mara's skeleton-like body and lack of eyebrows actually started to frighten me a little...but she still performed her role great and made the character of Lisbeth more of a social outcast than Rapace's performance.

Fincher solved the biggest problem from the original...the existence of eyebrows on Lisbeth.

With Fincher behind the camera, Reznor behind the keyboards or whatever the hell he is using to make his awesome music and a cast that consists of amazingly talented actors like Daniel Craig and Stellan Skarsgard performing an already interesting, engaging and often disturbing story, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those EXTREMELY rare occasions where the American remake is better than the original.

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