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on December 21, 2011
When American filmmakers decided to put forth a second adaptation of the Swedish vampire/drama/horror film, "Let the Right One In", a mere two years after the first one had been released in Sweden, I was pretty angry. Like many other geeks who'd seen the original adaptation of the Swedish novel, I thought that not enough time had passed(2 years)since the release of the first film, and that there was certainly no justification for the second adaptation. Additionally, the Swedish "Let the Right One In" adaptation was an unbelievably well made film(a classic in my opinion)and I believed that an attempt at an American adaptation so soon after the advent of the original film was somewhat disrespectful. "At least allow the original film to occupy its place in the horror pantheon for at least a few years before some hack director is given permission to besmirch the legacy of the first film with his/her adaptation," is what I'd said to myself after becoming privy to the announcement of the new film.

After initially vowing never to see the American adaptation of "Let the Right One In", the relentless positive buzz that preceded the film's release date led to a change of heart. Immediately after watching the American adaptation I thought "Wow. I am so glad that I decided to watch this movie." The American adaptation was different from the Swedish adaptation in many ways. In fact, the American film had some good qualities that did not exist in the Swedish version. That said, I enjoyed both movies immensely. Each movie appealed to a distinct part of my whole personality, thereby engendering a richer experience for me. Most of the professional critics would probably agree.

Fast forward to December 21, 2011, and the movie going public is faced with a similar phenomenon. In 2009, a Swedish adaptation of the Stieg Larson novel, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", was released to critical and box office acclaim in Sweden. It was then transferred to the United States for limited release. The film became a critical and popular hit in the United States, made a star out of actress Noomi Rapace(who did a great job as the lead) and eventually made an American idol out of the novel's heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Again, a mere two years passes between the release of both films, and thankfully, the film's director is no Bret Ratner. He is David Fincher, the brilliant auteur who has directed seminal films such as "Seven", "Fight Club", and the "Social Network". With Fincher's name attached to the American Adaptation, it gains instant credibility. However, lovers of the first film are still skeptical. They are afraid that the new version will not live up to the standards of the original adaptation. Well, I'm here to say that the hand wringers can rest easy. David Fincher's version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is just as good, if not better, than the Swedish original.

Many of you who are reading this review are familiar with Stieg Larson's novel. It features a character named Lisbeth Salander, a 24 year old genius computer hacker whose life has been made very difficult because of the psychological/sexual/physical abuse that has been put upon her by male authority figures. Because of this abuse, Lisbeth comes to despise men. That is until she comes into contact with disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, with whom she teams up with to solve the 40 year old "murder" of Harriet Vagner, a relative of wealthy businessman, Henrik Vagner. As they investigate the disappearance of Harriet, Lisbeth and Mikael become involved in a sexual relationship, where upon Lisbeth develops feelings for the rakish reporter. They are able to solve the case together even as the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth becomes complicated.

All of the actors do well for themselves in this movie adaptation, especially actress Rooney Mara, who really gives her all as Lisbeth. Noomi Rapace was great as Lisbeth in the Swedish version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo". However, Rooney Mara's physical and psychological interpretation of the damaged Lisbeth really grabs you. Anyone who has read the book will tell you that Rooney Mara's Lisbeth fits more with their idealized image of Lisbeth; an emaciated, pale, sexy, and sometimes androgynous girl/woman with a really nasty streak if provoked. Rooney has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, and is predicted to get more attention during the upcoming awards season. Daniel Graig is solid as Mikael Blomkvist, and Stellen Skarsgard gives a scary, creepy performance as Martin Vanger. Oh, and special kudos to Yorick Van Waginengen, whose performance as Bjurman(Lisbeth's abusive social worker) really makes you despise his character. You will rejoice when he receives his comeuppance in a brutal scene.

David Fincher's version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" moves much quicker than the Swedish version, even though the film runs almost 3 hours. Everything about Fincher's film is leaner/edgier than the previous version: the lead characters are younger and nastier, the editing is quicker, and the dialog is sharper. Much more of Stieg Larson's story is told in David Fincher's movie than in the previous version; and this allows the director to really develop the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael. I also like the tone of this movie. It's a dark, cold and gray movie. I don't think that the sun ever shines in one scene, and given the subject matter of the film(female rape and murder)it would be wrong for the movie to be filmed in any other way besides the dark and gray.

So go watch this movie. You'll be sufficiently transfixed by it. And if you haven't seen the Swedish version of the film, watch that too. They are both wonderful movies, and the positive critical reception is nearly identical for both movies as well. A warning though. If you have not seen the first movie or read the books, prepare yourself for some disturbing content.
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VINE VOICEon December 13, 2011
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a rather large fan following and for good reason. The 2009 Swedish film is incredibly solid and well-acted with just the right amount of wrong. The two sequels that followed had their own uphill battles (switching directors, lower budget, etc) and weren't necessarily bad, but just failed to capture that raw emotional tenacity the original film offered. When news of a remake began making the usual rounds, there was a fairly large uproar amongst the internet community (isn't there always?), especially when it was announced Noomi Rapace wouldn't be returning as Lisbeth Salander. Most American remakes aren't directed by David Fincher though and while it isn't vastly different in comparison to its Swedish counterpart, Fincher has at least improved upon what was already a fantastic piece of cinema.

The opening of the film was a bit unexpected. "The Immigrant Song" cover by Trent Reznor and Karen O plays over these really fluid visuals that are a bit hard to describe. Imagine the T-1000 from Terminator 2 made of motor oil or tar instead of metal and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It was just very different from other film credits from the rest of the year while also being very sleek, very stylish, and very David Fincher.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is extremely dialogue driven, so be prepared for a lot of talking. It feels very similar to Zodiac in that sense yet more captivating. Even though I had seen the original film and knew most of the major plot points, I still found myself getting sucked into the story. Even if you hate this version of the film and your loyalty remains firmly with the Swedish film, you can probably at least agree that Fincher's version is visually the better of the two. The cinematography is just brilliant. You've gotten teases in the trailers, but the coldest winter in 20 years for Sweden looks so bloody fantastic on screen; the amazing scenery, those long drives through the snow, feeling like you're on the back of Lisbeth's motorcycle as she roars through a tunnel, and the inner shot of a plastic bag among many other things. The film is just a joy to look at from beginning to end.

The score is also just as brilliant as the one for The Social Network, if not slightly better. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross seem to explore territory they didn't get to explore on The Social Network score. This one seems to feature more out of tune instruments, which is an interesting touch. The score hints at rising tension throughout the film always making you feel like there's always something else to the story lurking around the corner waiting for the right moment to strike. It's haunting, unnerving, and just spectacular overall.

Noomi Rapace was an exceptional Lisbeth Salander and with that said so is Rooney Mara. Just the amount of devotion she put into the role with the piercings being genuine, bleaching her eyebrows, cutting her hair, learning how to ride a motorcycle, using a very convincing Swedish accent, coming off as being just as messed up as her appearance lets on, and being completely nude is an incredible accomplishment. It's not out of the question to believe that a role this physical could get her nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards. The entire cast just seems like they fit their roles a bit better than they did in the Swedish film. This is one of the only performances of Daniel Craig's I can actually say I enjoyed while Stellan Skarsgård is just wonderfully demented. Then there's Yorick van Wageningen that's just downright despicable as Nils Bjurman. It doesn't seem like it's something as simple as "oh, you're showing favoritism towards a remake because it's in English now." That isn't the case at all. Fincher's attention to detail to the source material is practically Kubrick-like. It shows in every frame of the film.

Fincher's version also seems to feature a lot more of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander being together. They have more sex and they're featured together more on-screen in comparison to the Swedish version. It was a nice addition that made the slightly altered ending a lot more impactful. The whistling doors in Martin's house were also amazing. I can't recall if that was in the Swedish version or not, but it brought a smile to my face with how something so small meant so much.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is obviously not going to be for everybody. It relies on extremely long discussions to drive most of the two and a half hour duration of the film. In between though, it becomes difficult to watch mostly with how Nils Bjurman handles giving Lisbeth more money and her response. Lisbeth's response will more than likely have you tiptoeing out of the theater as delicately as possible since you'll still be feeling it. With a phenomenal cast, incredibly rich cinematography, a brilliant score, and Rooney Mara's best performance to date, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not only an improvement over the original but easily one of the best films of the year.
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After viewing the fairly well-produced and well-adapted "Girl" trilogy of films (based on the Millennium novels by the late Stieg Larrson) by director Niels Arden Oplev, the question, "Why see yet another version of this same story?" (even if it is done in English, Hollywood style) may just cross one's mind especially in a diminished economy where frugality renders duplication superfluous. However close to the perfection of the author's vision Noomi Rapace's performance might have been, Rooney Mara's incarnation of Lisbeth Salander seems more nuanced; she smolders with anger and vengeance like her predecessor, but withdraws in pretty silhouettes with a psychological vulnerability that endows her with even more antisocial magnetism and hints at the underbelly personal history yet to be revealed.

Even though easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig, as the intrepid journalist Mikhal Blomkvist, more than adequately portrays the likeable character with a winning, almost unconscious self-consciousness, he conciliatorily fades into the background when Mara is on the screen. As in the novel, Salander's edgy efficiency and genius works well against a backdrop of a seemingly well-oiled society equipped with high-speed trains and technology yet rotting from within with a moral corruptness that suggests repressed aggression. Mara's face mirrors both Lisbeth's fierce rebellion and the forever scars she wears like a tattoo of resistant resilience.

Director David Fincher deviates a bit from the gospel of the Larsson text--his Lisbeth admits her past openly to Blomkvist in a TMI scene that isn't true to the sensibility of the written character. Perhaps, Fincher, worried about the reception of this English version and concerned about executing its sequels, reveals too much to accentuate Lisbeth's misplaced sense of betrayal regarding Blomkvist's limited yet open promiscuity. Perhaps, his perception of her desire to please Blomkvist with her openness and her body even after brutal sexual subjugation underlines her role as woman and her place despite her genius and injured sensibility. This is, after all, a novel, that in Europe tellingly goes by the Swedish title "Män som hatar kvinnor" which translates into English as "Men who hate women." The novel's section headings are marked with statistics regarding the percentages of women brutalized by men which, along with key instances in the plotline describing women reduced to victim status due to the sadistic and masochistic actions of their supposed caretakers or loved ones, suggest that even with the seemingly blasé attitude regarding casual sexual relationships and equality amongst the sexes, there is indeed some disturbing issue that in this culture cannot be rectified by the actions of government or authority but by taking the matter into one's own very capable vigilante hands.

In addition, rather than have the duo work together as in the novel to eventually reveal the initiator of a forty-year-old crime, Fincher chooses to film parallel sequences of enlightenment set to the fast-paced sound of European motorcycles and the edgy organic music of the Oscar-winning team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. This works to cut the overall time of what could have easily been a three-hour police procedural instead of a fascinating character study of an societal outcast and her soon-to-be crusading knight errant.

Fincher misses a key flashback scene opportunity where Lisbeth stands and watches the killer die as his car bursts into flames. Why not have his protagonist shudder with that remembrance from her own past and give the audience the thrill of mutual understanding? For those non-novel readers, why not an anticipatory frisson of what is to come in the next two installments? Maybe Fincher thought this would be a TMI moment.

Bottom line? Director David Fincher (The Social Network) compacts Stieg Larsson's rambling novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy) into two hours and 38 minutes of intense film introducing to a mainstream English speaking audience the edgy pathology and survival of Dragon Girl--social misfit, rebel and genius, Lisbeth Salander. Be warned the film contains violent rape, the depiction of a mutilated animal and stills of misogynistic torture. The strength of Rooney Mara's portrayal of the lead character is more than enough reason to revisit this newer version. Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
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on November 21, 2012
All of these comments are modulo IMO only, personal taste will come through. I'm not rehashing the synopsis - you already know it.
It was a faithful enough rendering of the Larsson story. I think Craig worked extremely well, I was pleasantly surprised by his subtle repertoire of gestures, movements and facial expressions that spoke volumes. Mara was fantastic but not as perfect a fit for Salander. The crucial scene imo was her `Terminator Mode' when attacking Bjurman, Mara was simply not ferocious enough.
Way too much talking and techno-explanation, no need to follow the book, everyone knew there was a camera there, all she had to do was turn on the TV - done. On the other hand the fact that her laptop was broken is so easy to miss at the end of the subway shot. This, imo, was important in linking why she needed money.
The editing is absolutely top notch, it tells the story effortlessly, won the Academy I think. Photography and setting are perfect. Bits are changed from the book and some are borrowed from the second book, but no biggie. Great twist - and deviation from the book -about Harriet near the end.

Coolest Scene: Salander is asking Craig - 007 licensed to kill - Blomkvist "May I kill him?" What do you think he said? ;)
Hardest to watch: Salander trying to shower after the brutality. In that few seconds scene is her entire character and Mara nails it. You can feel the horror and agony. (As I recall it's also the first time we get to see the dragon)
Sweetest scene: Blomkvist runs his hand up her back as she is lying face down hacking away, when he removes it she says, "Put your hand back on my back." 100% feminine. And Craig - with the typical clueless duffus male look- does exactly as she instructs. Perfection.
Best technical moment: She is writing a query - not typical system/app code - to do a database search. That made me smile.
Most subtle: Everyone is using an Apple machine, except the killer, it looked like a PC monitor. (And no - I hate Apple and their - It's my way or the hiway. And yes - the wife (aka the master) *made* me buy two iMacs)

Side comment: Salander is - again IMO - one of my favorite Science Fiction characters of all time The Stainless Steel Rat - Jim DiGriz

Aside: The graphic novel - Vol I. OMG I was almost physically sick.
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on December 5, 2012
First off, there is a lot of disturbing content and imagery in this movie that is definitely not appropriate for kids - or adolescents - and won't be appreciated by all viewers.

That being said, I loved it. I tore through the book in 2 days straight (read through the night one night and most of the next, and my husband was not happy), but still really enjoyed the movie. The choice of actors was superb, and really, the whole thing was very well done. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of thing.
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on March 22, 2012
I just got done reading the book a week before this came out so I decided to watch the unedited Swedish version cause I heard how good it was and I figured that the Swedish version would probably be more accurate then the US version (Hollywoods track record of converting books to movies accurately isn't very good.) But I was very surprised the Swedish version changes too much I found myself saying "That didn't happen like that" alot.

So my expectations for this version were kinda low. Wow was I wrong. Someone in Hollywood discovered how to read the book 1st then make the movie. Sure they didn't get completely right but the changes were small for the most part and small enough to where they didn't bother me too much(Still did though).

Over all I enjoyed this version over the Swedish version and hope they decided to remake The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest as well.
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I did not feel as much of a compulsion to see the American version of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', as I did with the Swedish film. How could this newer version ever compare to the exquisite Swedish version? However, was there ever a more perfect Lisbeth than Rooney Mara, she completely won me over.

In the Swedish version, we were given the bleak, white/black doomed version of the Swedish countryside and the personalities of its inhabitants. It seems they were good or evil. In the American film, Rooney Mara brings the isolation and complete vulnerability of Lisbeth. Maybe it was that in this version, Lisbeth's story is told from a different standpoint, it is her version without the complication of Mikael Blomkvist's character. We could feel her distance, emotionally and physically. She is alone, she isolates herself from her sexual partners as well as those who she deals with. Lisbeth does not smile, not does she make much of an expression at any time. Rooney Mara was able to take this character and give us this added dimension. It is not until she starts working with Mikael, who likes her and trusts her, that she will finally reveal some emotion, but it is not complete trust, nor should it be. It is Lisbeth's story that interests us. Mikael Blomkvist is interesting, but it is an added attraction. Daniel Craig did a great job, but he was missing the vulnerability and lack of confidence that I knew Mikael from the novel.

This American version was so well done, that it had an edge in my book. What I did miss was the Swedish language and the sub titles, somehow they added to the mystery of these characters. Christopher Plummer was the perfect Henrik Vanger. Of course, Christopher Plummer is perfection in any of his roles. The other characters were well done and did not separate themselves in much fashion. I did not find Robin Wright as convincing as Erika Berger, she did not give off the sexuality that I felt from the Swedish version.

This film stands alone as a great film, but it is Rooney Mara who makes this film. She is all of the superlatives, and I felt a deep connection to her character. I hope we see her again in the second and third version of the trilogy.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 03-24-12

Dream House

Tanner Hall
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VINE VOICEon February 13, 2012
There's a moment in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (TGWTDT) where hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) seems to ask disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) for permission to commit murder. That simple phrase sums up the perfect synchronicity of David Fincher's direction, Steven Zaillian's screenplay, and Trent Reznor's score. What kind of a woman asks for permission to kill?

By now the plot of TGWTDT is well-known: When Blomkvsit, co-owner of Millennium magazine loses his libel case against corrupt CEO Hans-Erik Wennerstrom (Ulf Friberg), he is given an opportunity at redemption and revenge by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). It's a good old fashioned murder mystery; Vanger is obsessed with solving the murder of his grandniece Harriet (Moa Garpendal). And so, slinking out of the public eye, Blomkvist takes the job and moves onto the family's private island.

Running parallel to Blomkvist's investigation is the tale of Salander. She is a product of the Swedish system, a ward of the state and abused product of the foster system. It doesn't take long before it becomes clear that Lisbeth is as much a ward as a victim; disaffected, detached, practical, and yes violent, she does what any man would do when facing abuse - she punches it in the face. But because Lisbeth is a thin, pale girl with piercings all over her body, she is demonized and ostracized. Lisbeth's greatest nemesis is Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), a corpulent, corrupt lawyer who manipulates Lisbeth into performing certain favors on him. And if you know Lisbeth you know this won't end well.

Eventually these two plotlines converge. Lisbeth provides much needed technical wizardry to Blomkvist's old school investigation. They are united by the opportunity to stop a "killer of women," a foe Lisbeth can certainly relate to.

The crux of TGWTDT is the story of Lisbeth, of Harriet, of all the women who are routinely intimidated and subjugated by men who wield their power without restraint. Their victims are merely foils, projections for each man's sins, and Lisbeth can't resist the opportunity to help a ghost from 40 years past get redemption.

But back to that question. It means so many things. On one level, Lisbeth is still asking permission from men. On the other, she doesn't need to ask anyone for permission for anything. Lisbeth is certainly the most dangerous predator in the entire film. So why did she ask Blomkvist the question?

I like to think it was a sign of affection, in the way a lover might ask, "Can I get you something to drink?" Or maybe it's a turn-taking request: "Were you planning on torturing him?" in the same way you might ask "Would you like to go first?" Mara's nuanced performance makes all the difference, and the fact that simple phrase can cause so much controversy is just one example of why The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an excellent film.
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on July 20, 2012
I first saw this movie in the theaters and LOVED it. Such a great adaptation. Mara Rooney is phenomenal and Daniel Craig is also very good. So I was excited to share the movie with my boyfriend via Amazon Instant Watch....until I discovered that Amazon removed some content. It isn't a lot of content, but enough to be noticeable. Specifically, they've removed the sex scene after Lisbeth meets up with a woman at a bar and takes her home. In the version I saw on the big screen, there is a fairly explicit sex scene between the two women. This is completely edited out of the Amazon Instant Watch video. Now, some could think I'm complaining simply because it's a sex scene, but I feel that the scene is important because it shows that Lisbeth is not always a difficult, anti-social woman. It shows that she does have the capacity to make connections with people far before she makes one with Blomkvist. I'm very disappointed that Amazon would edit out any content from movies or TV that they stream. I will definitely reconsider before purchasing instant video from Amazon again.
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on March 10, 2012
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a Hollywood adaptation of Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's mystery novel. The film, of which story is dark and often violent, is directed by David Fincher, who is known for such thriller as "Se7en" and "Zodiac."

The film is about a Swedish journalist and co-owner of the magazine "Millennium" Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who, after losing a libel case brought against him, sets out to investigate what happened to Harriet Vanger, grandniece of Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a retired CEO of a family industry, when she suddenly went missing about 40 years ago.

To do so, he enlists a help from a genius computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who has gone through terrible experiences as you will see in the film. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is more about the luridness of the truths than the process of finding them out, and about the characters who can be very brutal without remorse.

Considering the subject matter, David Fincher is the right choice for making an English-speaking version, though it seems as if the director has lost interest in the film's final 20 minutes or so.

Some nay find the film's English-speaking characters (played by the international cast) in the Swedish setting a bit strange. But perhaps the film would have looked stranger had its story been set in somewhere in America. After all remaking a film is not copying the original, but changing it, so something must go.

With Jeff Cronenweth's effective photography, Fincher's version looks more polished than the Swedish counterpart, though I don't know if it is really a good thing. The 158 minute film is most notable for Rooney Mara's strong acting and director's skills that keep the sinister feeling going on in the film's world.
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