Wednesday, March 7, 2012

review: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [American Version] (movie)

I was really not excited for this movie. I was a big fan of the original Swiss movie which was released in 2009. Hollywood has been in the recent trend of acquiring phenomenally huge best sellers (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, etc) and turning them into huge monetary successes - which is the movie industry's job and sparks the controversy of whether movies are art or commercial. Whichever side of the debate you come down on - most movies are a mix of the two and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is no exception. My personal opinion is that this movie was made just so Americans don't have to read subtitles (Americans are notoriously lazy). Subtitles don't bother me, probably because I read over 100 WPM.

Things I liked about the remake:
- Awesome casting: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are an odd but excellent pairing for Mikael and Lisbeth. Mara makes a particularly excellent Lisbeth. She's more aggressive, reserved, and punk than Noomi Rapaace's goth interpretation. Craig is playing a role meant for him. Still cool but not so much Bond but not yet Robert Langdon.
- Pacing: This remake ran much faster than the original. Although this made it "faster", the movies where actually of comparable length. Although I think speed is overrated, I agreed that the original didn't need all those long pans or pauses.
- Great score composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross. Their magnum opus can be seen through the amazing opening titles. Their remix of Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song is amazing and the visuals are spectacular. But the main reason I like the opening titles is because the set a completely different theme than the 2009 movie. It's a great way to differentiate itself from the original.
- The movie was set in Sweden which was a relief. I can't imagine this being set in the US. Along with the Swiss setting - it was decided that the characters should keep they're given names rather than Americanizing it.
- Scenes with Lisbeth's original legal guardian which weren't in the original. I hope they continue this plot line in the next two movies. The Swiss movies didn't include his story at all which was a shame because it showed a more emotionally involved Lisbeth.

Things I hated about the remake:
- Nils Bujrman. Yes, you're supposed to hate him. He's an authority figure who abuses his position and those under his care. What I didn't like was that they made him into a fat, unattractive man rather than the suave, savvy man that he is in the original. Although you might say his outside matches his inside in this interpretation, I just found this portrayal too cliche.
- The ending was by far the biggest let down for three reasons. Lisbeth seeking Mikael's approval, the motorcycle chase, and Harriet Vagner's explanation.
Right before the big chase scene Lisbeth asks "Can I kill him now?" which I found to be stupid. Lisbeth is a strong woman - she wouldn't seek approval, not even from Mikael. Also, Mikael would never condone the killing of anyone. Worst of all is that when she finals goes to kill him, the car blows up! In the original, Lisbeth allows her prey to die purposely deciding not to save him - a much more satisfactory revenge.
Next item, the chase scene is poorly executed and anti-climatic, also Lisbeth's diving is ridiculous if you know anything about motorcycles and she doesn't wear her helmet.
Finally, Harriet's location and explanation of how she got there is BULLSHIT!!!! so far from the book plot - way over-reaching. Ug, totally pissed me off.

Regardless of its remake status - the American "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" rate 4 out of 5 stars compared to the 2009 Swiss movie which rated 4.5 out of 5 stars (you can read that review here) . However both are good movies worth watching.

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