Grade: A (4.5/5 stars)
David Fincher’s American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” has the most visually striking opening sequence I’ve seen in a film in years. It reminded me of a James Bond sequence, but it was more nightmarish and intriguing. Set to the tune of “Immigrant Song,” covered by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with Karen O on vocals, this opening sequence shows some of the weirdest and coolest imagery on film.
I enjoyed the Swedish version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Like many, I was a bit uncertain if an American version was necessary. But Fincher is familiar with this kind of material, as he has proven with films like “Se7en” and “Zodiac.” That being said, he creates another dark and arcane thriller that features a standout performance by Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”).
There aren’t many differences between the Swedish film and Fincher’s new one. They both tell the same story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) teaming up with the tattooed, bisexual, anti-social hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara) investigating the disappearance of a patriach’s neice, a case that’s 40 years old. There are some creative differences, especially one over which fans of the books and the Swedish adaptation may cry foul. I found it fitting.
As with most remakes, I notice that I’ve seen this film before and the comparisons unfortunately come out. The same can be said for so many films that get remade. Sure, some remakes have advantages over the original. Here, we have a bigger budget and a director who knows this genre. The fact that he knows the genre kind of helps the film. Fincher is able to keep the film about as dark as the original, if not darker. The rape scene is pretty gruesome, as is the scene where Lisbeth attacks her rapist.
Along with Mara, there are some other great performances. Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer are perfect as part of the Vanger family. Craig is a good fit for Mikael, though I’m not too sure about the developing relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth. It didn’t seem quite as convincing as it should have been. If the series continues, I hope Fincher and screenwriter Steve Zaillian can improve on that.
Those who have not seen the Swedish “Girl” may come out of this film saying it’s a knockout. My friend told me, “That deserves an A.” He hadn’t seen the Swedish version before this. I agree, but it’s not really fair to compare the two films. They have two different directors. The Swedish version deserves an A; the Fincher one deserves an A. Mara’s great in this version; Noomi Rapace was superb in the original. There isn’t much of a difference between the two films, but they are both very good. In terms of Fincher’s filmography, I’d probably rank this just right below “Zodiac” and “Se7en,” my two favorite mystery films of his. Both of those were knockouts. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is not much of a knockout, but it’s certainly worthy of a mention.
Now playing at Cinemark 14 in Chico, Paradise Cinema 7 in Paradise and Feather River Cinemas in Oroville.
David also writes as the Chico Events Examiner, National Boardwalk Empire Examiner and for We Got This Covered.
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