The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is David Fincher’s adaption of the popular Swedish book by Stieg Larsson which was first made into a Swedish language film by director Niels Arden Oplev and starred Noomi Rapace.

The story follows Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) a discredited journalist who is contacted by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who wants his help in finding out who murdered his niece, Harriet,  40 years ago. Blomkvist enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) a goth hacker with a dark past…

Now, a confession – I’ve not seen the Swedish version of the films yet (got them for Christmas so I’ll watch them when my life becomes a little more organised). So I was going into David Fincher’s adaptation with a fresh mind and without entirely knowing what the story was about.

And I felt very unimpressed…I’m not sure if the films have been so hyped up for me that it just felt like a letdown. The first two parts of Fincher’s film are intensely boring. In fact it only starts to get interesting when Lisbeth and Mikael finally meet and they start to shed some light on the investigation.  But even then the story doesn’t seem anything special.

First of all the title sequence is HORRID – I get the feeling Fincher wanted to give an iconic opening like the ones in James Bond films, but it just doesn’t work with the rest of the film. It feels like it’s been a last-minute idea that was added just to show what they could do with some good graphics. And it’s the equivalent of being hit around the head with a brick repeatedly.

However, there are moments of genius in Fincher’s film. Mostly these are in the uncomfortable scenes which really do make you squirm in your seat. And as with all his other films, everything is beautifully designed and shot as well.

Rooney Mara is also great as Lisbeth Salander, but she does look a little bit too young in some scenes. Then again she does have a weird sort of vulnerability to her in some parts that make her character very believable. Although I’m guessing that people who’ve seen the Swedish version will think that Noomi Rapace is still the better person to have played her…

Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist is good as usual and makes his character a lot more interesting than he could have been and also manages to hold his own when he’s onscreen with the more popular (and cooler) Lisbeth character.

But one of the biggest problems of Fincher’s film is that he has tackled this sort of subject matter before in his similar detective/serial killer films (Se7en and Zodiac) with much better results and that is something that is always at the back of your mind when watching this. Zodiac for example is just as long as this (way over 2 hours) but it doesn’t feel it because you are so immersed in the story. So maybe it is just the plot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that is the problem and that doesn’t engage as much as I would have liked. The characters are perfect and very real, the direction at times is exquisite, the soundtrack is amazing, but in the end the film just feels very…dull. Very cool at times, yes, but still boring for the most part.

So, not one of David Fincher’s worst films, but certainly nowhere near any of his best ones. And I’ll have to wait to watch the originals before I can tell if it’s better than them or not!

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~ by square-eyed-geek on January 19, 2012.

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