Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Review

I'm not a huge David Fincher fan even though I think Fight Club was a groundbreaking film did enjoy the Social Network to some extent.  But I do have to admit that, after seeing Dragon Tattoo, Fincher does a great job of making a certain type of film.  I've read all of the books and seen the first two Swedish made movies.  So this is the third time I've experienced the story of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist.  The fact that I was entertained throughout and it didn't feel like it was 2.5 hours long is a testament to how well made this movie is.  Through superior set design, costumes, music (thanks to Trent Reznor) and lighting, Fincher creates a world where you really feel the dark theme of the story.  And this one is very dark.  But, while Fincher maintains the dark nature of the story, he also throws in just enough comic relief (like the Nine Inch Nails T-Shirt in a movie where Reznor does the score) to let the tension in the audience out.

But I think what makes this film even better is the terrific casting.  I'm a huge Daniel Craig fan and I originally thought he wouldn't be able to play Blomqvist well.  After all, Blomqvist from the books is a very flawed and imperfect character (as is everyone in these stories) and Craig seemed a bit too much of a hero to pull it off.  But they made it work.  Whether or not it is his acting or the costumes and makeup, I don't know.  But it worked.  He played the morally ambiguous yet likeable journalist quite well.  As for the rest of the cast, there is not one that is out of place.  All of them are almost exactly what you would picture while reading the books (even if Christopher Plummer had a bit of a "Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz" air about him - but I think that was just the moustache).  The one that really sticks out from the rest though is Yorick van Wageningen ar Bjurman.  That is exactly how I pictured Bjurman when reading the books and his detached depravity was played brilliantly.

So, from a pure cinematic standpoint, this is a very, very good film.  There are a few things that bugged me a bit and I will now address those.  First, while I appreciate how closely they stayed to the book, sometimes staying that close to a novel that is that long is a mistake.  I don't want to spoil it for those who aren't familiar with the story but, in the book as in the movie, the aftermath from the climax of the thriller story is too long.  The fallout from the Wennerstrom affair goes on too long.  It works better in the book because that type of thing can be done in literature.  However, Fincher does such a good job of building the viewer's adrenaline and attention into the climax that, keeping all of that content afterwards is too much of a letdown and actually becomes boring for the viewer.  When reading a book, the attention stays.  When watching a film, you cannot recapture the tense atmosphere for as long after the climax and it should have been wrapped up.

Second, as a business professional, I can appreciate the practice of product placement in a film to not only raise capital but to provide a medium for the advertiser.  As a film aficionado, I will tolerate it as long as it is done judiciously and subtly and the product placement fits the context of the scene/story.  There are two blatant product placements in this film.  One bugged me.  The other did not.  I was not upset about the Apple product placement here (as I was in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) because I think they used Macs in the book and it is obvious that they really wanted to stay true to the book.  And that's exactly why the McDonald's placement of Happy Meals irritates me.  The book made a point of saying Lisbeth would buy frozen pizzas.  Trying to stay so true to the film and then switch that to Happy Meals is a sellout of the film's integrity in my mind.  There is also no real need to go into the detail of what she eats in a film and it should have just been scrapped altogether.

Third, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to when English or Swedish would be used when there was text on the screen.  Between that and the complete disregard for accents when it is set in Sweden with Swedish characters and it just had an air of inconsistency in that aspect.  But, the positive there is that you can let the actors be good actors without rolling your eyes when one cannot pull off a Swedish accent.  So the third problem is really a wash.

Ultimately, those three problems are minor.  They are far outweighed by the fact that this is a very well done retelling of a very gripping and raw story.  See it.  It is definitely worth the time.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, my biggest problem was that Plummer (Henrik, I think was the characters name) didn't seem serious enough when he was bringing Blomqvist into the story. He had a very lighthearted air about him, and it seems to lessen the seriousness of the mystery he needed to be solved.

    I'll also say, in vague terms so as to avoid spoiling it for anyone, that the big reveal softened the story too much, after a very tense buildup. I know it must be how the book was done as well, but I actually found that to be one fairly lame aspect of it.