Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

When I first heard that David Fincher, one of my favourite directors of the past 20 years, was due to helm a second film version of Stieg Larsson's novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I was not exactly over the moon. Before too long, though, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, if only because there was the original source material to draw from and [ick] re-imagine, thereby (maybe, possibly, kinda) not making this a remake per se. (What d'ya mean, I'm stretching?!)

Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the book and its two sequels. And I enjoyed the Swedish films, even though the first one was by far the best of the three, and all of them left plenty to be desired. [NB: I watched the "short" versions rather than the extended cuts.]

So, was it necessary to have a "remake" of this story? And is the new take on it significantly better than and/or different from the first?

Let's start with the opening-credits sequence. I really didn't like it. Fincher usually makes good opening credits, but this one left me cold. Yes, I could see the parallels with the story; I'm neither blind nor stupid. But I just didn't like it. It seemed out of keeping with the film and the story, frankly. I had that sinking feeling...

Thankfully, though, from there onwards, everything goes much more to (my) plan, and the plot starts to unfold almost painfully slowly, just like it does in every version of the story. But once all the expostion is out of the way, we get down to the meat in fine style. And this is where it becomes real Fincher territory, of the ilk of Se7en and Zodiac: investigation.

Some random thoughts: Early on, Fincher sticks closer to the source material than the Swedish film did. But he changes things up at the end. Both versions of the film made changes, yes, and of course that is to be expected with any adaptation of a novel.

A bit of comparisony stuff: Fincher's version is better made, too -- of that there is no question. But of course he has the action taking place in Sweden, with Swedish characters speaking English, which is jarring in its own way.

Q&A: Was it necessary to have another film version of this story? Honestly, probably not. Will I watch either version again? Yes; probably both of them.

So, how to score this puppy? Actually, I'm gonna give it 78 points, the same as I gave Zodiac on first viewing. But I think Zodiac is better overall and, having now seen it a second time, deserves to be scored a tad higher.

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