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Playing A Long & Dangerous Game
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012) (DVD)
Member Name: cazkins
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012) (DVD)
Advantages: Strong cast & protagonist, reasonably close to original novel, good scenery & script
Disadvantages: Could have been made clearer, see review
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.
Summary: An engaging thriller a little different to the norm