The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo DVD Review

They come from the land of ice and snow.

That’d be Stieg Larsson then, and his phenomenally popular characters from his Girl trilogy who all hail from his native country of Sweden.

In fact, Lisbeth Salander and co have proved to be so enduring that this is the second cinematic incarnation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the last two years.

The question then is whether this supercharged american version directed by David Fincher is any better than the Swedish version that launched Noomi Rapace’s film career?

With a slick Led Zeppelin inspired opening sequence, Fincher’s film kicks off in understandably more impressive style than its Swedish predecessor.

Daniel Craig is a somewhat surprising choice to play disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and relative unknown Rooney Mara undergoes a drastic makeover to play the ubiquitous role of Salander.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the mythology around these characters, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opens with Blomkvist reeling when a court finds no credible evidence behind an investigative expose published by his Millennium magazine.

Bankrupted by the court’s ruling, Blomkvist retires from the public eye to lick his wounds only to be presented with an offer he can’t refuse by the wealthy paterfamilias of Sweden’s Vanger dynasty.

Henrik Vanger’s favourite granddaughter Harriet disappeared under mysterious circumstances over forty years ago. As the aging Henrik gets his affairs in order, there’s one thing he most wants to resolve before leaving this mortal plane; what actually happened to Harriet?

Suspecting someone within his own family is responsible for Harriet’s disappearance and probable death, Henrik hires Blomkvist to investigate the Vanger clan to see if he can uncover the truth behind Harriet’s disappearance.

Not only will Henrik pay Blomkvist handsomely for his efforts, but he also has some information that might be able to fix this broken journalist’s credibility.

Through this investigation Blomkvist comes into contact with Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker and a girl with her own demons from the past to conquer, and together, they team up to try and solve the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance.

When I first heard they were doing an american version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I thought it was a terrible idea.

As is so often the case when a foreign language film enjoys great success, hollywood studios want to cash in on this sure thing to remake it for sensitive american audiences who are unwilling or unable to read subtitles.

Though I am looking forward to the spoken word version of The Artist some american studio will inevitably remake next year.

The real problem with coming out with a second interpretation of Larsson’s source material so close to Niels Arden Oplev’s original is that the filmmaker did such a great job the first time around.

And it wasn’t just him either; Noomi Rapace launched herself into mainstream cinema off the back of her amazing portrayal of Lisbeth Salander that it really would be a herculean task for whoever tried to follow in her footsteps.

So there’s no real creative reason to remake The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, only commercial. At least that’s what I thought.

And even though Fincher’s version is good, it simply doesn’t accomplish anything the original didn’t two years ago.

Casting James Bond’s Daniel Craig as Blomkvist is a puzzling choice too. As you’d expect of a fine actor, Craig does a fine job; it’s just difficult to accept the most physically intimidating secret agent in Bond history as the physically vulnerable Blomkvist, who would need Salander or anyone else’s protection.

Rooney Mara does nothing wrong as the titular girl with a dragon tattoo, but Rapace inhabited this role so well that I doubt anyone would have been able to compete with her portrayal. Especially an actor as young and raw as Mara.

And there are more casting difficulties besides. Fincher’s version is less taut and exciting than the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because of our familiarity with the actors chosen in supporting roles.

As with any thriller, the thrill lies in not knowing what’s going to happen or who’s going to do it. But whilst picking famous actors for important roles makes commercial sense, it takes a lot of intrigue away from Fincher’s film as any surprises have already been signposted by this casting.

So if I were you, I’d stick with the version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo that actually came from a land of ice and snow, as opposed to one of simple greed.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

April 2012