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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(2011)

What is up with that title sequence? Is this a James Bond movie simply because James Bond is in it? Maurice Binder must be turning over in his grave. David Fincher is known for having wild and original openings for his films. They would set the right tone and always made connective sense. But I was put off right away by this one. What the hell is it? Is that Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist swimming in the La Brea tar pits? Also, this film won the Oscar last month for Best Editing. Has anyone noticed how often(google it)films that win for editing are approaching three hours or longer? Is there any actual cutting involved in these? “Gone with the Wind” won this award and that runs FOUR hours. Of course, I kid(somewhat). I realize editing isn’t all about running time. But I do feel “TGwtDT” overstays its welcome a bit.               I won’t formally review them here, but all three Stieg Larsson books were made into films in Sweden and did fantastic box office there in 2009. Then they were transferred to the U.S. in 2010 and barely made a dent. Seems people loved reading those novels(yes, I’ve read them too), but couldn’t be bothered with reading subtitles. So, officially “TGwtDT” is a remake…and Hollywood went A-list all the way with Fincher, Craig and rising star Mara. And which “TGwtDT” is better? Well, I got a kind of Broadway/off-Broadway feel when trying to make the comparison. You could attend a Broadway version of a particular play or musical and you’ll get all the best talent behind the scenes and on the stage. The lighting, the music, the sets—everything is top of the line. But if the same show played off-Broadway, it could be an entirely different experience. Smaller, less flashy—and often even better. The 2011 “TGwtDT” sure is busy. And Rooney Mara certainly is different than the Swedish Noomi Rapace. Their bodies are different and their mannerisms are too. Certainly, a bias should be expected towards the original you view of anything. And I think I’m probably guilty of that in this instance.               Anyway, enough comparing. The 2011 version spends an awful long time on set-up—which still manages to make certain plot threads borderline incoherent. It’s brutal, including a disturbing rape scene, and I applaud Mr. Fincher for having the cojones to go there. It bothers me that both versions leave out Blomkvist’s affair with Cecilia Vanger—although I guess it’s wise not to clutter the screen with too many lovers for Mikael. He was a randy son-of-a-gun in the books—and both film versions tone it down. The middle section of the movie plays very well, reminding me often of Fincher’s far superior, “Zodiac”. But then once the central mystery is finally solved, the pace falls off again with a way-too-detailed wrap-up involving transferred bank accounts and needless sequel foreshadowing. I guess ya gotta see it though if you’ve read the trilogy. And I did think the first book was kind of fun, but the second gets increasingly outlandish and the third overly procedural. I like David Fincher’s version of “TGwtDT”. But I wish it was shorter and a bit more focused. It may grow on me over time, but it will never be among Fincher’s best work.          Grade:  B-

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2 comments on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(2011)

  1. I’m still struggling through the third book. I started it in December!! Ack!
    The way you describe the film is exactly how I felt about book 1. I thought they’d tidy it up a bit and have the movie end on a fast note, but I guess not. I’ll not waste my 3 hours, thanks for the warning.

    • Yeah, Sandy, the anti-climax is tolerable on the page, but seems to go on forever on the screen. My memory tells me that the Swedish film DID wrap it up in a quicker fashion, but it’s been about 18 months since I’ve watched it. I highly doubt that David Fincher will tie himself down the next few years with the next two film versions. Plus, word is the producers are dismayed that the worldwide box office wasn’t higher. ML

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