Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Unlikey Alliances

Rated: R Graphic Nudity, Brutal Violent Content, Torture, Language, Rape and Strong Sexuality
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Runtime: 2 hrs 38 min

Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian, novel by Stieg Larsson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff

SYNOPSIS: After a lawsuit leaves a journalist at the wrong end of a career he takes an assignment to investigate a 40-year-old murder. Making some headway, he requests a brilliant but troubled research assistant to help him.

REVIEW: Director David Fincher has helmed such unique fare as Flght Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and intense mysteries like Zodiac. Based on the first of a trilogy of international best selling novels known as the "Millennium Trilogy" published posthumously by the Swedish author Steig Larsson, Fincher takes on Americanized version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (from the book translated to "Men Who Hate Women" and the 2009 Swedish produced film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Does Fincher's version live up to the hype worthy of the international best-selling books and the original film trilogy?

Millennium Magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace) emerges on the losing end of a libel lawsuit against a billionaire financier named Wennerström. As his savings disappears for damages and his magazine starts to flounder financially, Mikael is vetted then approached by Frode (Steven Berkoff, The Tourist) on behalf of Hendrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer, Priest), a retired businessman who has obsessed over the disappearance of his granddaughter Harriet (Moa Garpendal) over 40 years ago and has feared that she was murdered. As Mikael digs into the family's background and past under the guise of Hendrick's researcher for his own memoirs Mikael struggles to find the connections to the clues he has access to. Eventually, with a thin shred of proof and an gut feeling, Mikael requests the assistance of the genius troubled antisocial computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, The Social Network) the researcher who originally vetted him for the project to begin with.

Clocking in at 158 minutes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would seem to be too large a commitment to be worth while. On the contrary, Fincher's experience and style lends perfectly to the slow building mystery set before Craig's Mikael and Mara's Lisbeth. The anticipation of following the detectives using their own methods hooks you from the start. In fact, Mikael and Lisbeth do not actually meet face to face until the second half of the film. But while Mikael starts his investigation as a retreat from his own personal and professional problems, Lisbeth endures her own internal and external demons as she tries to make it on her own as a ward of the state with the albatross of being labeled as criminally incompetent.

Starting with the abstract introduction of the Karen O and Trent Reznor's amped up rendition of Led Zepplin's "The Immigrant Song", Reznor's scores soon recede to buzzing and pops that prod at the back of the brain like an itch that can't be scratched. Minimalistic in nature from an impressionist point of view, Reznor and Atticus Ross's work focuses the audience's attention into the fabric of Fincher's dark story and gray settings.   

If unfamiliar with the novels or the original films, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, graphic film. Showing nudity and violence, Fincher never puts anything on display in a gratuitous manner. Some of the acts of brutality borders on the obscene and may offend some movie-goers' threshold tolerances, but rest assured that there is meaning in everything. Rooney Mara is the standout performance as Lisbeth Salander, her brilliant character both off-putting and sympathetic.

A fresh eye for this first entry of the Americanized "Millennium" trilogy, having read any of the novels or watched any of the original films, Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a serious slow building take at the brutality that man can inflict on man, or on women. Since I did not have previous works to rely on to spoil the ending of this version, I came away entertained and in awe of what good story, great characters, and fine direction can accomplish.

WORTH: Matinee and DVD

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