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Well now; this is all a bit pointless. Stieg Larsson's superb novel has already been translated to the big screen in an equally impressive Swedish language version. There's no need for a remake, but we've got anyway - presumably on the grounds that Johnny Foreigner can't possibly make a film better than Hollywood. News flash, guys: they can;and they have.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo tells the tale of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist, found guilty of libel against a leading industrialist. Blomqvist is contacted by another wealthy businessman to look into the 40 year old, unsolved murder of his niece Harriet... which brings him into contact with the brilliant, but anti-social hacker Lisbeth Salander.
Whilst it might be somewhat unnecessary, at least the film is a fairly faithful adaptation of both the book and its Swedish celluloid predecessor. For the most part, it takes the gripping and complex tale from Larsson's book and translates it into a watchable, interesting film. The trouble is that this only puts into sharper relief just how pointless this film is. The bits that work are pretty much just lifted from the source novel and reflect the earlier Swedish film. The bits that don't are where the scriptwriters have fiddled around and changed some of the details. This includes a fairly substantial change to the original ending which is both needless and pointless. It's a prime example of Hollywood dumbing things down where the original text and film assumed readers and viewers were intelligent enough to keep up with the plot's many twists and turns.
The good news is that whilst the film is about as necessary as fitting wheels to a tomato, it is at least in the hands of someone who can create a good film - David Fincher. And, as you would probably expect from a Fincher film, there's certainly nothing wrong with the way Dragon Tattoo looks. The washed out colours and muted camera shots, the long, lingering shots of both characters and the Swedish landscape help to establish an atmosphere that fits the film's downbeat plot. The trouble is that they can be overused with too many shots of Daniel Craig brooding. No doubt such shots will please some female viewers, but they are often unnecessary and contribute to the over-long 150 minute run time.
Worse, they can be used as a lazy alternative to narrative. Some sequences have Daniel Craig holding a piece of paper or a picture and looking thoughtful' too often this is used to replace plot explanation. Mrs SWSt observed that the original Swedish film was much better at explaining what was happening and the thought processes of the characters; had she not read the book, she would have struggled at times to work out what was going on in this version. As ever, the wisdom of my dear wife knows no bounds and it's an observation I couldn't easily disagree with.
The cast do a pretty reasonable job, although it's slightly amusing to hear some of them trying to effect Swedish accents, whilst others can't be bothered and simply speak with their usual voices. Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomqvist falls into this latter category. When I first heard he was being cast in this role, I wasn't certain he was right for the part but actually he turns out pretty well, possessing both the grim determination and the craggy good looks to accurately portray the crusading journalist.
Rooney Mara is also very good as Lisbeth Salander - as good as her counterpart in the Swedish original and I found it hard to separate them. She was completely convincing as the woman who is deeply anti-social and dangerous, yet also fiercely loyal when called upon. Stellan Skarsgard, meanwhile, was excellent as Martin Vangar, the brother of the murdered girl Blomqvist is investigating. It's a shame that some of the more minor characters (Robin Wright's Erika Berger, Geraldine James' Celia Vanger and Steven Berkoff's Dirch Frode) see their roles reduced to little more than cameos, but at least they make some impact when they are on screen.
If further proof were needed that this film is really not necessary, just take a look at some of the actors - they have clearly been cast because they bear more than a passing resemblance to the actors in the Swedish original. Now, if you are going to take something which has already been filmed (successfully) and re-make it in a very similar fashion (except for the bits you make worse) and then fill it with actors who look a bit like the actors in the other version, is there really any point? Why don't we all just save an awful lot of money and time AND WATCH THE DAMNED ORIGINAL?
It's not that this remake is a bad film, it's just a pointless one. Given that a very faithful (and superior) Swedish version already exists, there is absolutely no need for this Hollywood version. Put it this way: if I could only watch one version, I'd go for the Swedish original every time.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Running time: approx. 158 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
It's all been done before
A few years ago I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo amid all the hype surrounding the author Stieg Larsson's death while the book was still in manuscript form. A journalist by profession, the book when published was embellished full of detail, the most painstakingly minute detail recorded on paper, in a thorough and slow way as he told the tale of a disgraced journalist being employed by a rich recluse to investigate a long ago missing family member. The result of this was that the first half of the book was so entrenched in foundation and base that the second half, quicker and more exciting, was near perfect. The problem would then come as to how to get this onto screen, and in Larsson's native Sweden they obviously struggled with a direct transposition and ended up with an adapted screenplay that was more hit then miss but not perfect. For me, it left out a lot of the clever elements of the plot, sacrificed for the more controversial content. The dubbing was poor, as were the subtitles, but as an original language film, it was more good than bad.
My disappointment at the omission of some of the more cleverly thought out elements from Larsson had cause for some lightening when I saw that Hollywood had decided to adapt it, something that American companies have taken to doing with a lot of European TV dramas such as The Killing and Wallander. My initial feelings were mixed - it does annoy me when the English speaking world decides it can do a better job than the original language company, and many remakes of Korean and Japanese horror films have fallen foul of critics and viewers alike, with strong justification. Indeed, the aforementioned TV dramas have been similarly lesser than their foreign language equivalents, with some of the traditions not translating well into a US setting.
My trepidation with this film and slight annoyance at the arrogance of it was tempered when I first saw the trailer, which seemed to show flashing and brief elements of some of the parts that the Swedish original had left out. I was encouraged by this, and so when my wife (also a big fan of the books) and I saw this on TV not long ago, we watched it with excited expectancy. Daniel Craig is a fine actor, and the cast also promised a host of British actors, the most successful Scandinavian actor in Hollywood (Stellan Skarsgard), and was also set in the country it was written for, just with the language being in English. Everything seemed to bode well for this attempted remake.
A tale of two halves
The book labours the introduction, where we meet the hero of the tale, Mikael Blomqvist, disgraced journalist but shown to be the victim of corruption and politics rather than someone who has done something wrong. We get huge buildup and background, and this is somewhat replicated in the original film. Here though, this is slightly glossed over with only a brief explanation as to what has transpired. After shedding his current company, those he works with as well as well as his married business and bedroom partner, he receives an offer from the reclusive and ageing Henrik Vanger, billionaire and owner of Vanger Industries. Vanger wants Blomqvist to find out what happened to his favourite niece many years ago when she went missing, and in return he promises to hand over evidence that will clear Blomqvist's name.
Meanwhile, we meet the titular heroine, Lisbeth Salander, and while the title seems obvious without having to see it, we know little other than that she is a disturbed figure with a legal guardian she has little need or want of. Extremely volatile but a technological genius, it is a while before the two main characters actually meet, and I have to say that if you haven't read the book or seen the original film, then you may wonder as to the relevance of the two plot threads featuring these two - they are so far removed from each other for the main part of the first half of the film that it seems like two completely unlinked films and this is quite confusing. I do wonder whether this was an oversight by director David Fincher or whether it is him using his usual style of keeping us in the dark and then producing a belter at intervals, as he has done with previous thrillers he has taken the mantle of. Films such as Seven, The Game and Fight Club come with seemingly unlinked elements until all is made clear, and he has directed them all. Either way I thought it stretched a little too far and my wife and I both commented that this was a bit too much distance and weakened the two plot threads.
Picking up the pace
However, as with the book, it set the scene perfectly for the second half. This is a very long film, and there are two ways you can look at this. Firstly, it's full of necessary detail and provides the right kind of content to sit in line with the book. For those who enjoyed the book and how it was structured, this will sit well with you. Secondly though, its length does mean it may be worth taking a natural break in the middle if you feel so inclined. The point where the two main characters, Blomqvist and Salander, join together, is a very natural midway break, as from here on in the plot picks up pace, the dialogue lessens and the investigation picks up a lot in terms of tension. Fincher really turns the screw in giving us the thriller that the trailer promises, and what had seemed a detailed and interesting but gentle thriller up to this point suddenly becomes a fast paced high passion musically driven edge of the seat brain testing thriller that still manages to have the plot at its heart.
The cast perform perfectly. There are stellar turns from those playing the members of the Vanger family, Skarsgard leading the charge with this but Christopher Plummer exuding the screen presence he always has and Brits like Joely Richardson and Geraldine James giving the timing of performance we've come to expect from them. Robin Wright and ER's Goran Visnjic also have parts however smaller, and do their bit. The latter in particular is likely to feature in any subsequent films as this is where the relevance to Salander comes in. It's easy to forget in a film that focuses so much on a missing person's case that the titular character is supposed to be the psychological focus of the book, with the author clearly wanting to provide a dark and disturbed image of the girl so damaged that has become a reclusive and eccentric adult still clearly needing monitoring as prescribed by the court system. There is sexual content in the book that is thankfully not quite so vivid in the film but still suggested very strongly and seemingly out of sorts with the main part of the film and the missing person in the Vanger family, although elements of this do creep through and become more relevant in a different sort of way as the film progresses.
One gem from the original language film was Noomi Rapace who played Lisbeth Salander, and in a way this was going to be the hardest act to replicate. There was talk of Rapace also performing the role in this film, although this was quickly quashed and Rooney Mara was chosen, amid talks of more established public figures. Somehow I think that choosing a lesser known actress for the role was the best decision, and I wonder how much Mara took from Rapace's portrayal of the damaged heroine, as the two are substantially similar from film to film. There is little in the performances, but Mara at least is good enough to draw comparison, which to be honest if you have watched both films is impossible not to do.
Daniel Craig can seem to do no wrong at the moment. I also recently watched him in Enduring Love, and while I am yet to catch Skyfall, I've seen him in the previous two Bond films and have also witnessed him in a handful of other roles. Every time he has surpassed my expectations and provided seemingly effortless characterisation, different in each and exactly what the role needed. Loved him in this, I thought the pace and action elements were right up his street (no doubt Bond helped here) but also the pressured and weaker character he starts out as was also very realistic. Craig manages to make us think that Blomqvist really needs assistance and is out of his depth in many ways, a weak man at times and in need of guidance in more ways than one. Curiously, I didn't find myself comparing him with Michael Nyqvist who starred in the original, and the same was the case with the other characters across the films.
Setting the scene
It's worth mentioning that the bulk of the plot takes place on an island, linked by a bridge, where the Vanger family live and so it appears no one else. The book does this to make it seem a bit like a game of Cluedo, and sets it up to show that at the time of the missing relative's disappearance there were only a few options as to what happened. All eyes are firmly aimed at the family members in terms of finding out clues, but they are nearly all so very hostile towards Blomqvist, believing Henrik's attempts to be futile and intrusive. Suspicion is firmly thrown around equally as if a twirl with an automatic blame machine gun was being held by Larrson as he spun in a circle to cover all of his characters, and we are left none the wiser, albeit with the inevitable personal opinion.
If you have read the book, then as I have mentioned above you will be aware of what to expect. Similarly, this US adaptation does cover the book's contents admirably. However, Fincher was interviewed regarding a couple of plot changes (which you would inevitably consider in any stretch of the imagination) and he explained that in terms of the plot, he wanted to present a different option for part of it, and so has changed one of the fundamental events, something that the original film for all its omissions actually left in. The concern I had with this is that it happened at the end of the film, and my wife and I were somewhat confused. This had been a film so true to the original book in so many ways that for such an audacious alteration to be made was quite a shock. I cna appreciate the artistic licence employed by Fincher with this, and he has said that he was not interested in watching the original film because he didn't want to be affected by it in any way, but he has clearly read the book and acted on one possible alternatives for one part of the film adaptation. I must say, I didn't like it, not because it wasn't feasible as it's strangely fitting with the tale presented, but because everything else is in such true keeping wit Larrson's tale that it's a shame Fincher felt the need to change this.
I don't want to give too much away to those who have read the book, and nor do I particularly want to taint what is a very good film for those who are newcomers to this tale. I still highly recommend it, it's just that this change is substantial and not in keeping with true Fincher has remained to the rest of it. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first in a trilogy of books written by Larsson, and the other two, already made and released in the original language, are on the cards for the American treatment too. I'm certainly looking forward to them, and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did ... for the most part!
Okay, so I read the book first so the fact that this movie just drags on makes it difficult to watch being that I know what follows. But, for anyone that watched it, it is enjoyable because of the great actors, especially amazing performances by the talented Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. The actual story is really interesting and grabs you in but the movie is long and not the easiest to sit through, there is a lot to follow and a lot of dragging scenes but a great watch nonetheless. It may be difficult, but, sit it out till the end, it unfolds and is such a great mystery to unravel, it does get tricky with the odd names and many family members and characters so it might take watching it twice but it's worth it for the positives of this great film. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does take the cake at the end of the day.
The name of this film (and book) made me think that it would be quite obscure and and maybe something to do with martial arts but it's not, it's a mainstream kind of film (despite the violence). I haven't read the book (yet) so I've judged it on it's own merits without comparing it to the book.
The film is set on a Swedish island. Daniel Craig is a disgraced journalist who is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young girl many years earlier. He finds a link to a number of gruesome murders. The girl with the dragon tattoo becomes Craig's assistant to resolve the disappearance.
The Swedish accents get a little annoying as I find it quite difficult to hear what the characters are saying. Daniel Craig doesn't have an accent for some reason (maybe I missed that bit).
I thought the storyline was very good and the film kept me gripped and at times at the edge of my seat. I like Daniel Craig and I think he's up to his usual high standards in this film.
There is some quite graphic violence in this film including a rape scene but it's relevant to the story line and not just in there for the shock factor.
I read and reviewed this book fairly recently and was quite interested to see how it translated in to a film. There was a lot of buzz about this when it came out and it seems to have gained a bit of a cult status; it's a good watch even though I had a few small niggles with it, so it's one I'd recommend.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film is an adaptation of Stief Larsson's Swedish novel of the same name. The 2012 flick is American so fear not about having to read subs! This was directed by David Fincher who has worked on various films including Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club and The Social Network, so he's got some solid experience in the industry and I think it showed throughout.
We're introduced to Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a journalist who has seen better days. Faced with a dispute and his image in tatters, Blomkvist is given an incentive to help someone out and get something back for himself. He's approached by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who asks Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of a little years a mere 40 years ago. It's obviously quite a stretch to think that he, a journalist not a detective, could possible pick the case up so late in the day and find out what happened all those years ago. However, Vanger owns a huge corporation and has more money than he knows what to do with it; Blomkvist is offered accommodation for a year's contract of looking in to the disappearance, along with a large lump of money whether he uncovers anything or not, as well as some information at the end of his time there that could help restore his reputation and set to rights the guy who disgraced him.
Blomkvist isn't sure at first but with little other options now his job has gone down the toilet, he agrees and sets off for the Vanger corporation. It's like Vanger's own island that houses all the family and extended family, so there's a lot of characters we're quickly made aware of. He gives Blomkvist access to all of his notes on the case, his niece, giving him a cover story to tell the rest of the family that he's writing a story on the Vanger family history. Blomkvist then enlists the help of a slightly 'strange' but remarkably intelligent and skilled computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). The rest of the film takes us through the investigation, step by step, but the question remains as to whether Blomkvist can actually discover anything new, and whether he can restore his career at the end of it.
This is obviously cutting the premise very short to simplify what is actually quite a detailed and complex storyline. There are lots of characters and events to tie together, which were sometimes difficult to keep up with whilst reading the book. Having read it first actually helped my understanding of the film because for once it was my boyfriend stopping the DVD and asking what was going on to make sure he understood correctly. I think that part of this confusing came about because of how the film introduced characters and went through the events; in my opinion it could have been done more methodically and more clearly bit by bit because the way it was displayed made things a little difficult to keep up with.
As for the overall sense of the film, it had a good quality feel to it helped in part by some recognisable cast names and lots of money invested in to the scenes. The Vanger corporation is in the midst of a super cold Swedish winter and the atmosphere of this is built quite well, making it seem as if Blomkvist has stepped in to a secluded world all of its own with only sinister faces all around him and hidden secrets he can't quite figure out. Unfortunately, I did think the book did the scenes and atmosphere a little more justice, in part because more attention was paid to the island, Blomkvist's travels of it and the harsh weather. Nonetheless, if I hadn't have read the book, I would say that the scenes were well done and built up a strong atmosphere of mystery, chills (thanks to heaps of snow) and intrigue.
There were a few scenes, one in particular that comes to mind, that was quite brutal and shocking. It stayed close to the premise of what really happens in the book, however, which I found to be a good thing, but it's understandable when viewing this scene why it's not suitable for a 12 Certificate. The film seems to be quite open and honest in its portrayal of events which made it quite refreshing to watch as it maintained a gritty, realistic and not-overly-Hollywood sheen.
The cast includes Daniel Craig (Mikael Blomkvist), Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander), Christopher Plummer (Henrik Vanger), Stellan Skarsgard (Martin Vanger), Robin Wright (Erika Berger) and Joely Richardson (Anita Vanger) amongst others. All seemed to play their respective roles well, making characters more realistic and generating the ability to empathise a little and want to know more about each of them. Their depth could have been greater, for instance, I thought more attention could have been paid to certain characters to make them deeper so we could better empathise, understand their role and their motivations.
However, I think that the above 'criticism' was due to the film trying to keep within time limits and not over-complicate things. I believe there was a bit missed from the film that was in the book; I hope I'm not being stupid by saying this because I noticed it quickly and felt a little disappointed that they'd cut part of the storyline out. It did make it slightly more manageable for a film, though I still think they could have included it without adding too much complexity.
Overall, I think this film does the book reasonable justice if you bear in mind that the film needs to stick within time limits, appeal to a wide audience and not over-complicate matters. It was well scripted, casted and directed, with fantastic scenery that makes it enjoyable to watch with a good balance of action, intelligence and some element of a shock factor. I did think the premise could have been portrayed a little more clearly but reading the book first helped, even though it wasn't entirely accurate against this.
DVD released 2012, rated Certificate 18, running time 152 minutes.
Selling on Amazon for £10.99.
I decided to see this at the cinema after hearing a lot of talk about it, both at work and amongst friends. Despite not having read the book I was drawn to it by the fact it is a book adaptation. I must admit when I went to see it I had very little idea of what the film would be about, however had been assured by friends and online critic reviews that this was worth seeing.
It is based on a book written by the late Steig Larsson. It is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) and was released to cinema in the UK on 26th December (Boxing Day) and is expected to be released to DVD on 23rd April this year.
I am writing this review from a film only perspective as I haven't read the book.
The plot follows protagonist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he sets out to discover the truth behind a young girl's disappearance 40 years ago. He is asked to do this by the missing girls great-uncle Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) and is told to pretend he is simply writing the family history. In order to conduct his research he temporarily moves to the island, inhabited only by the Vanger family who transpire to be a very disjointed family despite living in such close proximity to eachother. He is joined in his mission by computer hacker and researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) The film focuses on the gradual uncovering of the very dark past of the family involved and pieces together clues found by Blomkyist and Salander which eventually reveal the truth behind the girls mysterious disappearance.
It also features two sub-stories, one being the development of a relationship between Blomkyist and Salander, and the second being the terrifyingly hostile and immoral treatment of Salander by her legal guardian, Lawyer Nils Bjurman.
The plot of the film was captivating and really caught my attention. Occasionally I will find myself watching a film and feeling like I don't really care what happens. This was quite the opposite and had me so enthralled I was feeling impatient to find out what happens from a very early stage, yet still enjoyed watching this get gradually uncovered. The storyline was dramatic but without being overly so to the point where it was hard to believe or unrealistic. I thought the storyline was complex which made it challenging to follow but enjoyed this.
The plot develops at a perfect pace, the mystery was neither so quickly solved that it seemed unrealistic, nor so slowly solved that it was tedious. I found the plot interesting and I was genuinely curious about what was going to happen right from the start. I wont spoil the film by revealing the ending, however can say that I found the ending satisfying and the film concluded well without cutting any corners.
I was impressed with the way in which the more awkward topics such as sexual assault and rape were handled. These scenes were very candid which had quite a shock effect, and to some may have been considered distasteful. However I feel that these areas should be presented in a shocking way, thus to reflect the reality of such horrifying situations and do them justice. Also despite these scenes being quite shocking, I didn't feel that the producers were playing on the shock-factor too much to the point where the film relied on this, nor did I think they were trying to sensationalise these matters too much.
The film sits well in the thriller genre, however in parts was definitely bordering on horror. I personally dislike horror films and certainly wouldn't liken this to one, however it definitely lends itself to the horror genre in parts in the sense that it doesn't shy away from violence, producing some truly quite terrifying scenes which I found very scary. This didn't spoil my experience and actually heightened it, however may have upset some viewers.
I was quite relieved to find that the romantic element between the two main characters was not over-played, as I felt this would have spoilt the film. Instead it was quite subtle and didn't take over the film, instead it served as more of an extra and wasn't particularly relevant to the main storyline, however the inclusion of a romance did seem quite fitting.
I have always felt quite neutral about Daniel Craig and have neither liked or disliked him. However I felt he suited this film and his role very well and gave a very natural and convincing performance. After watching the film I would find it hard to imagine anyone else having played this role. I feel it was quite a difficult role in the sense the film itself was very dramatic at times, yet clearly Blomkvist was intended as a serious character and Craig does this justice. It would have been easy for him to get carried away into the realms of over-acting in an overly dramatic way which would have ruined the film, however he steers clear of this.
The same can be said for actress Rooney Mara who plays Lisbeth Salander, again she plays a very calm, serious character and does this well without diffusing the feel of panic and drama which is essential throughout the film. I have never seen Rooney Mara in a film before therefore entered the film from a neutral point of view, however left the film with a lot of respect for the actress who portrayed the character very well and in a convincing nature. As with Craig, I feel the role she had to play was challenging and even the more graphic scenes containing sexual assault and rape, were handled extremely well by Mara.
I also rated the performance of the other main actors in the film. The most notable were that of Christopher Plummer who plays Henrik Vanger, and Martin Vanger played by Stellan Skarsgard. Both of these actors fit well into the film and give compelling performances.
Overall the film was very well cast, with disciplined actors who fit extremely well into the roles given to them.
Despite being very impressed with the plot and acting in the film, I was most impressed by the production of the film. It is mostly set in Sweden during the winter season and this is created to an excellent standard. The setting really accentuates the eerie dystopic atmosphere of the film, the snowy surroundings add to the creepy atmosphere and set me on edge very early on in the film.
The combination of camera techniques and sound further created an edgy atmosphere which really complimented the film and enhanced the creation of the creepy island setting. Whilst watching the film it became clear that it was a big budget film and a lot had been put into the editing. In my opinion this really paid off and made the whole viewing experience very enjoyable. I was really glad I saw this on the big screen where I feel you can really appreciate this element.
**Awards and Recognition**
It received nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Original Music at the 2012 Oscars, as well as Best Original Score and Best Actress (Rooney Mara) nominations for the Golden Globes 2012. It has won several awards including Best Film Editing, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay at other recognised award ceremonies.
**Would I recommend it?**
I would definitely recommend this film and am pleased I went to see it. It offers an exciting storyline supported by excellent acting and production. I think it would suit most viewers, particularly those who enjoy a detective mystery. I wouldn't recommend it to any viewers who are easily offended by scenes of a sexual and graphic content, as despite the film not depending on these scenes, they are still there and are essential to the plot.
I will be tempted to buy the film on DVD and watch it again, although knowing what happens in the end would probably spoil it slightly so I think its one of those films that will only be 100% enjoyable the first time round.