Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

It all happened over a game of Words With Friends at 6:00am on December 20th.  My friend Marianne and I were engaging in our daily routine of WWF when I sent her a message and said something like "I so want to see The Dragon Tattoo, but shoot, we have the kids' Christmas program tonight".  One thing led to another, and plans were hatched for the two of us and my mom to run over to see this long-awaited movie at 9:00pm, after our little angels had blessed us with their sweet holiday singing voices.

We were all excited, but a little fearful.  After all, the Hollywood version of this internationally best-selling book had huge shoes to fill.  While not widely screened, the three of us had all seen the Swedish version, and loved it.  It wasn't perfect...why do directors feel the need to MESS with the story details?  But the complicated, multi-threaded plot was easy enough to follow, and Noomi Repace was a stunning embodiment of Lisbeth.

*****

As we were leaving the theater, the three of us all agreed that this version wasn't quite as good.  Here are a few of our takeaways:

   

The issue of casting rested solely on the shoulders of Rooney Mara.  I think David Fincher, the director, took a chance on her.  She was fairly unknown up to this point, and had never had a major role that pushed her acting limits.  And she took Lisbeth and ran with her.  I had no complaints.  She was quirky and angry and badass, but Fincher's Lisbeth had a few moments of softness to her, and I liked that.

As I said before, this movie has three or four complicated plot threads running through it, and it takes a deft hand at screenwriting to navigate "the unread" through the paces.  From the very beginning, this movie felt jerky and manic and extremely hard to understand.  I've read these books, and seen the Swedish movies, and I couldn't quite follow it.  Some of the dialogue was mumbled, and while I am all for the "show not tell" mantra, I think the average viewer required a little more explanation than we got.

And there is the messing with the facts again.  I really don't know why they must do this.  They didn't change the spirit of the movie, though, so I guess I need to get over the fact that they will always need to tweak and put their own mark on the thing.

One thing that I must mention, and it is the thing that still lingers in my mind hours after seeing the movie.  And that is the opening credits.  I've never seen anything quite like it.  Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah) have created a delightfully insane rendition of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song", which alone is pretty mind-blowing.  But they married this music up with an artistic video sequence that, according to Fincher, is intended to depict "the primordial tar pit of (Lisbeth's) subconscious."  Yeah, so I dare you to watch this in Dolby Surround on the big screen and not sit there with your mouth hanging open, whispering to yourself, "What.  The.  Hell."



Pretty wicked, right?

I would encourage everyone to see this movie.  It is solid.  Just keep your expectations in check if you have seen the original.  And if you haven't read the book (really?), then bring along your patience and make peace with the fact that you may need to watch it twice to understand it.

          

17 comments:

caite said...

OK, I was waiting for your review!
I was fearful of the Lizbeth casting..glad that is good. And I too hate when they mess with a book. Bastards!! LOL

But yes, it is a very big and very complex book, so it is hard to make it into a movie and get even close to how great the book was. I too though the Swedish movie did a pretty good job on that, but I did have my concerns about the US version.

I will go, no doubt, and just keep by expectations under control.

off to watch that video of the opening.

bermudaonion said...

This is one of the movies we've talked about seeing while Vance is home. Carl has seen the original and Vance may have too, but none of us has read the book. I watched that video and it is pretty mind blowing.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I can't wait to see it and see if we think the same thing! :--)

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

That video sequence is AWESOME! I love it! I have watched the Swedish version and loved it, so I'm sort of nervous to see this version, even though Daniel Craig is in it and who doesn't love that guy? I'll get my courage up and watch it this weekend, probably.

farmlanebooks said...

I loved the Swedish version and was a little bit sad when I heard that there was going to be a US version, but I'm glad they didn't mess it up. I'm not going to rush out to see this, but I'm sure I'll watch it one day.

Darlene said...

I hate when they mess with the book! It drives me nuts. Still I'd like to see this. I saw the original and liked it. Love thst video.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I'm glad you reviewed this one. I saw the original version after reading the book and I loved it. I've been hesitant to see this one. I think I just need to go into it with the right expectations.

Jenners said...

I was so curious to see what you think. I'm glad Lisbeth gets treated properly … but it sounds like they didn't quite get it all right. What a shame as the previews looked so so promising. Still, the opening credits might make up for it. I could totally see that as Lisbeth's subconscious. Trent Reznor is the perfect choice to do a soundtrack for her mind!

Kathleen said...

I STILL HAVEN'T READ this book! I know I must be crazy, right? I've got to read the book before I see the film and I want to see both versions. Maybe I will see the US version first so I can end on a high note with the Swedish version? That rendition of The Immigrant's Song makes me so want to see the movie this weekend!!!

Zibilee said...

Man, with a subconscious like that, I can see why Lisbeth is so maladjusted.

I am not surprised to hear that the American version is not as great as the Swedish movies because those really couldn't be improved upon.

I am still going to see it, but I think your review really helped me manage my expectations a little better.

heidenkind said...

lol EVERYONE I know who's seen this movie mentions the credits. They are pretty wicked.

I want to see it so bad but no one will go with me. ::((

Julie P. said...

I am not a movie-goer so I'm not anxious to run out and see this one. I did love the book though...

Melissa said...

I'll have to watch the video when I'm not at work! While I do want to see this, I'm almost tempted to skip the US version and see if I can find the Swedish version somewhere.

softdrink said...

Love the song, but the video creeped me the hell out. While I liked book one, I never did finish the series (I stalled at 50 pages into book 3) and the movie doesn't really interest me. Plus, I don't know of anyone I could talk into seeing it with me!

Alyce said...

That video/music sequence was so weird! I bet that was incredibly loud in the theater.

Bybee said...

I really don't care for the book. I have every hope that the movie will be much more enjoyable and have plans to go.

Espana said...

I walked into thie movie blind - I hadn't seen the Swedish version and I hadn't read the book. But I had heard nothing but great things about the book and was GREATLY anticipating this film. I was not disappointed. I'll be totally honest though - I did have to cover my eyes for about 2-3 minutes of the movie, the big rape scene was pretty intense. Despite some of the gruesome torture and rape - which I feel was necessary to the plot - the film was completely mesmerizing from the beautiful opening sequence to the very last scene. Not only was I mesmerized by David Fincher's direction, and Steve Zaillian's sprawling script, I was taken aback at how amazing Rooney Mara was as Lisbeth. While Daniel Craig's acting was equally memorable, the character of Lisbeth Salander was totally unforgettable and Mara did a perfect job.