The novel by the late Stieg Larsson gets remade by Hollywood. Although the remake is just as compelling as the original film, your enjoyment may depend on what you thought of that original adaptation in the first place. My memory tells me that not much was changed, but Fincher still produces a fine film.
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) has just lost a libel suit by a crooked investor, the problem was that he wrote an article about how crooked that guy was but the information was easily proven false. Now he has to pay a judgment and court costs from the trial which bankrupts him and threatens his co-ownership of Millennium magazine.
To save the magazine, Mikael tells his co-owner and lover Erika Berger (Robin Wright) that he is going to resign. Meanwhile, Mikael is under investigation by a security firm instigated by lawyer Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff). He asks to see the investigator who made the report and is introduced to Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an intensely quiet tattooed brooder, who gives him her opinion of Mikael.
Frode then calls Blomkvist to see if he’s interested in a job, doing an investigation of a cold case. Blomkvist is taken to an isolated island owned by the Vanger family. He’s asked by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the death of his grandniece Harriet who vanished from the island in the 1960s and was never seen again. Harriet’s brother Martin (Stellan Skarsgard) now runs Vanger Enterprises.
They have always presumed Harriet was dead but Henrik gets a birthday present mailed to him every year and it is something that only she knew. He has assumed that these have come from her killer and has led to his obsession with finding out what happened to her.
Now the aging Henrik wants to have other eyes look over the case so that he might have a resolution before he dies. Mikael moves into a guest house and begins his investigation. His sleuthing will bring the case back to life but also put him on a collision course with Salander.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes from the hit book by the late Stieg Larsson, one of a trilogy of books he was tinkering with that were only found on his computer after his too soon death.
They turned into an international hit and even into Swedish films. It wasn’t too unexpected when Hollywood turned their attentions to them. It did seem a bit odd since films had already been made and had a somewhat successful theatrical and home video release – but that didn’t seem to stop anyone.
I will say that I found the original film excellent. I’ve not found time to read the books but hope to one day, as well as watching the second and third Swedish films. The initial thought was that why mess with a film that was great already, but in our age of remaking remakes I guess we should’ve just been happy that they were tackling more adult material instead of PG-13 hooey.
I would say that both films are at least equal. I can’t pick the winner in this race, but each has charms all its own. Fincher’s certainly is glossier, but both feature fantastic performances. It’s not just a matter of filming in English as Fincher puts his own spin on things.
Mara hits all the right notes as Salander and adds complexity and perhaps a more realistic look, not to sound insulting but a little more Golem than Noomi Rapace.
Both are excellent actresses but Rapace’s Salander still seemed glamorous under the piercings. Mara braves it out and seems more like the reality of that character, you’re more likely to run into her type in a club than Rapace’s I’d speculate.
Perhaps the opposite is true of Blomkvist as Michael Nyqvist seems more world weary than Craig’s but again both add their own marks to their characters. Plummer, with Julian Sands showing up as Henrik in flashbacks, is always a delight and Skarsgard is as well.
If you have seen the plot in the first film, not much has changed but I won’t spoil the reveals for you. It’s a fantastic film that offers a serpentine plot and multi-faceted, excellently acted characters, all expertly steered by Fincher.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). Special features, in high def unless noted, are spread across two discs. Disc one has the film and a commentary by director David Fincher.
Disc two contains the Vanger Archives which explores various aspects of the production. The 7 minute “Men who Hate Women” starts off looking at the book. “Characters” covers “Lisbeth” (47 minutes), “Blomkvist” (26 minutes), and “Martin” (22 minutes) in various featurettes plus stills.
“On Location” covers both “Sweden” (49 minutes) and “Hollywood” (50 minutes). “Post Production” (30 minutes) looks at how the film was edited, ADR’d, and its main titles and visual effects created. “Promotion” (25 minutes) looks at a mock TV episode created for promotion (the only thing in standard definition with optional commentary), TV spots, trailers, and the creation of the poster.
Disc three is a DVD copy of the film (made to look like a DVD-R) and you get a code for an UltraViolet copy of the film.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo may have seemed potentially superfluous but David Fincher adds another excellent film to his list. It’s just as compelling as the original but has a mark all its own. It’s no mystery that it should be on your to buy list with that roster of excellent special features only adding to the value.
Visit the DVD database for more information.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.