Special thanks to Leontine from Leontine's Book Realm for the super header.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Today I have a guest movie review from "The Kid", aka my daughter. I did not go to see this movie last week with her and a friend, but I know lots of people have enjoyed the books so I asked her to do a review for me. I've been told it's totally a fangurl squee, so be warned.

Mikael Blomkvist might have been portrayed by Bond actor Daniel Craig, but he was certainly not the famous 007 in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Craig was a different man, both in character and appearance. He was Blomkvist, a man caught in legal dispute after the publication of his accusatory news paper article, who stumbled into a way out of the media attention. The way was through Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plumber), an old Swedish businessman seeking help with his memoirs (code for find out what happened to my missing and more than likely dead niece). Needing rest from the public eye, Blomkvist accepted the challenge, unaware of the deceitful past of the Vanger family; their life filled of dark secrets, corruption and history of anti-Semitism.  

The main question still remains; where in this chain of writing and investigations does the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisabeth Salander (Rooney Mara) fit into the picture? Here: when Blomkvist reaches a roadblock in researching the alleged death of Harriet Vanger. Requesting an assistant in the case, the company suggests their best agent, Salander, who already knows her fair share about Blomkvist (having researched his background check earlier). Abandoned at age 10, traveling from foster-home to foster-home, Salander had been on her own for most of her life. A history of drugs, violence and being warranted as insane by the state, Salander was strange; but nonetheless a genius.

Teamed together, Blomkvist and Salander discover a link to a series of serial murders in Sweden to the missing Vanger girl. Flipping page by page through Leviticus the code is cracked, Harriet wasn’t a victim she too was a detective caught up in more than she bargained for. A similar position both Salander and Blomkvist find themselves in after discovering the religious woman-killer. Bringing an answer to one of the many questions asked throughout the film, but not the most important one; what happened to Harriet?

If your heart wasn’t won over by the two minute animated oil intro, twisting and turning with vivid images of hands, eyes and bees. Then it surely was won in Lisabeth’s first appearance. Mara’s delivery, presence and presentation were all impeccable. Her verbal withdrawal from the scene was enticing and from that moment on, your heart had fallen for the obscurely beautiful woman.  If Mara hadn’t have played Lisabeth, the movie would have been far from phenomenal; her appearance and talent were far more suited for such an avant garde role compared to Natalie Portman, who was the original pick. In the devastating rape scene, Mara’s performance had one gaping at the mouth and feeling the true pain of Lisabeth herself. There was no doubt that Mara was talented, beautiful and powerful, but she can’t have all the credit (even if she was the best part of the show).

Opposite the daring motor cycle riding beauty was the man himself, Daniel Craig, deserving three rounds of applause for his impeccable acting job. His role as Blomkvist truly proved his versatile ability. Whether it was natural chemistry or just his great acting, the on screen pairing of Salander and Blomkvist was remarkable. Words cannot describe the emotional connection between the two both intellectually and physically. Though a truly unique and intertwined couple, the movie’s ending proved the blond always gets the man. Erika Berger (Robin Wright), gave us our first glimpse at the secret life of Blomkvist, but also gave you reason to despise her. Evidently using him for personal gain (and sex), Berger’s intentions were never for ‘them’ only for her, even if stated otherwise.

Together with the super star cast was a qualified production team and working under the master director David Fincher (responsible directing for film masterpieces such as Fight Club and The Social Network). Accompanying him was Fight Club and Social Network cinematographer, Jess Cronenworth, who helped provide the cutting edge ‘Fincher’ feel to the movie. Full credit is given to the spine chilling original score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (also creating the award winning Social Network score). Together they’ve proven “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” or in this case “if they still work, keep hiring them,” creating the stunning movie that may be regarded as some of Fincher’s best work.

Really, I need her to write my reviews. She hasn't read the books so I can't say how the movie compares to the book though. Maybe some others who've done both can comment on that.


Average Reader said...

Great review! Thank you both. :) I've been curious, but the violence has scared me off from both movie AND book, so I'm afraid I can't even offer detailed perspective on the book. I've heard, though, that the movie greatly streamlines the story and cuts a lot of boring background on finances and journalism that are in the book.

Clare London said...

Great review! I've read the book and seen the Swedish version, and I enjoyed them both. I thought the Swedish version interpreted the book well, and the violence is in context. It really wasn't an action thriller in the first place IMO, and I'm glad the film cut out a lot of the background rambling!

So I'm keen to see this version, though I read another review that said it played up the action and violence more than the Swedish one. But who can resist the lure of the gorgeous brooding Daniel Craig? :)

Kristen said...

I haven't seen the Swedish one or read the book but from my stand point I wouldn't say it was overly violent. There were only two and a half major violent scenes, I was expecting more from the rating advisory, but the R really does come from the sexual content. The action sequences were well done, so I never felt like I was in a mindless action film (despite those being someone of my favorite).

Clare London said...

Thanks for the info, Kristen. Sounds like it was well made. It's definitely on my list to go and see. That's the problem with hype - people latch on to one part of the movie and exaggerate it, putting others off seeing it for the whole.

Mariana said...

This is a great review, but I HATED this movie. The opening sequence was fantastic! I knew it was Trent Reznor as soon as it started playing, but they so completely messed up the movie from the book, I was very disappointed.

The actress that played Lisbeth, did an excellent job. I also really liked Henry and Marten actors. Daniel Craig was meh for me. The accents get shifting from English, Irish, American, "Swedish"... it was a pretty big free-for-all, and the biggest offender was the Erika Berger actress... very bizarre.

Will definitely look forward to more reviews :)

Anonymous said...

Great review! I'm not going to see the movie until I read the book, which I have been putting off for a while now.

Ingrid said...

This movie has yet to come out in NL.
The Swedish movie was typical... swedish I would say just like the book(s). As Clare said not action based.
I do get a bit shivery as european, in this case swedish movies get an american make over. So I wonder about this one, how far does it stray from the book? How much swedishness will remain? Guess I have to see for myself

Kristen said...

I went to see the movie with a friend and her parents, all three had read the book (leaving me the odd one out), but the three of them claimed the movie was very close to the book. They said aside from the pizza brand changing to McDonald's they didn't notice anything vastly different. They didn't care for the book however, if I recall correctly my friend found it poorly written and much preferred the movie. My friend's mom had seen a majority of the Swedish film, but preferred Fincher's adaptation. I'd read other reviews that also said that Rooney's Lisabeth is far more accurate to the Lisabeth in the book, but again I haven't read the books (probably never will either) so I can't be entirely sure.