The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Stieg Larsson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic, Donald Sumpter, Ulf Friberg, Bengt C.W. Carlsson, Tony Way, Per Myrberg
Synopsis: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Remake Opening
David Fincher tries his hand at reintroducing arguably one of the most dark yet intriguing stories ever told on the big screen
Why is that remakes get such a bad reputation? Think about it. We as a society often condemn a remake before it's even released.. Hell, I'm guilty of doing the same thing, but why? Shouldn't we judge each film based on it's own merit? Sure, it doesn't help that most remakes piles of crap, and fail to live up to the original. However, even when a remake does equal to, or surpass, said original in some way, the vast majority of audiences still openly condemn it anyway (i.e. "True Grit", "The Karate Kid" and Peter Jackson's "King Kong"). Don't get me wrong, I still love the originals of all the films that I just mentioned, but I love the remakes to them too just as much. Yet, most people would condemn me as a fool for daring to say those remakes equal the originals in some way, but why again?
One theory comes to mind is that we tend to romanticize the originals. Meaning that no matter how well done a remake is, a person will adamantly refuse to acknowledge anything that the remake does to prove itself to the viewers, and immediately dismiss the remake as a lousy interpretation without even giving it a fair chance. Granted, there are some exceptions to this rule, but for most cases, the theory seems to fit.
The film is based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, which was later adapted into a movie starring Noomi Rapace originally in the title role. A couple of years later, the United States is trying it's hand at remaking that very same film. Does it work? Or will they screw it up like most remakes tend to do? Well, let's go over that now.
Like the original, Mikael Blomvkist (Daniel Craig) is under a lot of legal troubles at the beginning, due to a source of his going sour, on a news story that he was working on. A bit afterwards, he's contacted by a very wealthy benefactor named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who wishes to hire Blomvkist to conduct an investigation over his missing niece, Harriet, as she's been missing for over forty years. Henrik believes she was murdered by someone within his dysfunctional family, but he's unable to prove it; hence where Mikael comes in. From here, he conducts a thorough investigation to find out what happened to Harriet.
Although the film tends to follow the original's story fairly closely, one can still sense various differences in direction of both films. The original had a certain allure about it to where it slowly started off, to allow audiences to get to know the characters intimately, while slowly speeding up it's pace as the mystery unfolded. Another thing worth mentioning is that the tone of the original movie got darker, as we learned not only more about the mystery behind Harriet's disappearance and the murders, but we also come to find out more about Lisbeth's disturbing past. Indeed, it was not a story for the faint of heart, but it was wonderfully orchestrated to draw audiences into that suspension of disbelief; while showing us a dark side of humanity that we all know exists in society, but we often find ourselves never wanting to think about openly.
The remake follows this same formula as well, but in a rather different way. For starters, the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth is far more distant than what we saw in the original. Sure, there's moments of intimacy between them, but you can tell each of them keep their distance from each other to a certain extent. In the original, it seemed like Mikael was the one that wanted to be closer to Lisbeth, while you could still sense that she never wanted to let down her emotional defenses.
In the original, Mikael felt fairly unsure of himself, as the mystery began to get increasingly darker. In this film, Daniel Craig portrays Mikael as being very confident in these sort of situations, while portraying Lisbeth as the one that wants to lower her emotional defenses around him, at the end. This is sort of a double edged sword to me. On the one hand, I liked how Mikael tried to reach out to be closer to Lisbeth, in the original, while still showing a strong street smart girl, who didn't want to lower her emotional defenses around men, in light of her tragic past. But on the other hand, I liked how the movie ended in the remake. I liked how Mikael was the only person who could breakthrough her emotional barriers, while portraying a sad ending with her realizing that she'll never be fully accepted. Indeed, both films portray this story very intimately, and fairly well I might add.
Noomi presented a character that felt uncomfortable within her own skin, but wasn't afraid to do the dirty things necessary to get things done. Whereas Rooney Mara, she portrayed more of the outcast persona that embodied the character, which emits a certain level of vulnerability and sympathy for her character. Granted, both these women do a great job portraying Lisbeth Salander, but I can see easily why most people would pick Noomi Rapace. She not only embodies the outcast goth meets punk rock girl theme perfectly, but she manages to portray a strong willed character that has lived a hard life, and won't allow anyone to hurt her again.
In movies, we often see strong willed women portrayed as being overly bearing, but it's later revealed that they're really soft wall flowers that just want to be loved. Not saying that's how I feel about strong minded women, but I'm merely stating an observation on how most movies portray strong minded women. However, that wasn't the case in the original, as Lisbeth wasn't some wall flower that just wanted to be loved, while acting tough to cover up her emotional insecurities. No, she was a strong willed character because she was genuinely a strong willed character, who saw the dark side of reality early on in life; hence making Lisbeth an interesting protagonist to follow. Sure, there was some emotional insecurities within her character, but it's portrayed in a very grounded and realistic way, to where you can understand the reasons behind her actions.
In the remake, she's a bit of a soft wall flower behind her tough exterior, who begins to lower her emotional defenses, as Blomvkist and her spend more time together. Granted, the film shows both characters keeping their distance from each more often than the original, but around the ending to the remake, you could tell she was much more open to the possibility. Again, I like both interpretations of this character equally, as both actresses played the part rather well, while putting their own unique spin on the character.
As for David Fincher, I'm not really sure what to think about his direction for the film. Granted, I liked how he tries to portray this story eerily similar to how he approached the dark gritty stories of "Fight Club" and "Se7en", as you can tell almost immediately he tries to make film come off as being darker than the original; perhaps a bit edgier as well. However, I would still prefer the direction of the original film though, as I liked the concept of how the mystery unfolded, then story would gradually get darker. Not saying the remake doesn't accomplish this same feat, but the original does it far more effectively so to speak, as there's a certain degree of uncertainty within the film's underlying context that never becomes fully clear until the very end; which makes the original more engaging to watch.
As for the remake's opening title sequence, , there's been a bit of debate about it. Some people love it, while others hate it. For me, I honestly don't have an opinion on it. From an artistic standpoint, I like the creativity of it, and thought it would've worked better as a music video for the movie itself rather than an opening. But then again, I can also see why David Fincher might've deemed it necessary, as he probably felt it was important early on to viewers that he wanted to capture an even edgier version of the story. However, I will say that I agree with most skeptics that it does seem out of place in this movie, but I do applaud the cinematographers and David for orchestrating a visually interesting opening.
Overall, I thought both movies were great in their own ways, and I liked how David and Steven Zaillian managed to stay true to the original story, while putting their own unique spin on it to make it their own. Same can be said of Rooney Mara. Granted, she's certainly no Noomi Rapace, but she doesn't have to be. Like Heath Ledger who had the daunting task of following a legendary actor like Jack Nicholson, in the Joker role, Rooney takes an iconic character like Lisbeth Salander, and puts her own relative spin on her to make the role her own. As for Mikael, I can't say I really cared for Daniel Craig's portrayal too much, as I thought the original actor was much better in the role.
In the end, I would have to give this remake a three out of four. It's definitely worth checking out, as it's a very interesting movie to say the least. However, it's not as great as the original though.
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