Dragon Tattoo improves upon Swedish bestseller

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Daniel Kulick, girl with the dragon tattoo, issue 15, review, Entertainment - By Daniel Kulick on Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 02:24

Decades after the rise of detective movies, The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo makes waves and revitalizes a decaying genre of film.

Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club), this film delves into the murder mystery surrounding Harriet Vanger, played by Mao Garpendal, who disappeared on her family-owned private island.

Hired by Harriet’s grandfather, Henrik Vanger, played by Christopher Plummer, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniel Craig, must unravel clues from the events leading up to the day Harriet died to uncover the truth in this detective story.

Blomkvist is seeking to rebuild his reputation after a legal defeat for writing a libelous article, which landed his magazine and personal life in financial ruin.

When Blomkvist discovers he is actually searching for a serial killer who targets women, he seeks out Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, professional computer hacker for Milton Security, after discovering that she wrote her own report on Blomkvist before he was hired.

Based on the book trilogy written by Steig Larsson, this is the first part of the series. This American version is actually not the first time this series has been adapted to film or television; previously The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo was released as a three-hour long Swedish film and television miniseries.

Having seen the Swedish film, I think the American version does a better job of driving the story forward while keeping things interesting.

Fincher has assembled the movie in a way that makes it run for a shorter amount of time, with less exposition while still adding depth to our two protagonists. The movie has several endings, making the final few sequences harder to sit through.

The musical score rivals that of The Social Network, also scored by Trent Reznor, cutting in and out in the right places to emphasize a particular clue or action.

When the movie begins, the introduction of the cast and crew features an interesting sequence of oiled figures and flames in an almost James Bond-type of beginning, sure to grab your complete attention with its unnerving risqué technique.

Mara’s performance as Lisbeth is definitely an improvement on Swedish actress Noomi Repace’s Lisbeth.

Mara puts on a great double act as a girl who is extremely vulnerable yet self-assured, giving her a more convincing and believable appeal than the detached and martyr-like style of Repace.

Throughout the movie, Lisbeth struggles to escape her past demons, including her own behavior, which adds a dimension to understanding why and how she became so fragile and angry.
The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo weaves an intricate story that includes grotesque gore and violence and enough action and story telling to drive the film forward.

Surprisingly, the American version, staying true to the Swedish version and the books, even features a graphic rape scene between Lisbeth and her appointed guardian, sparing no detail.

This film is nominated for several awards including Golden Globes for Best Original Score and Drama: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.

Overall, this movie is something I was pleased to see, and it was a significant improvement on its Swedish counterpart.