Like the original, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is set to be the first of three films based on the late Stieg Larsson's critically acclaimed Millennium Trilogy. I thought the original version starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace was a great film and I was hoping that this remake would be at least as good. Watching the trailer let me know that there were going to be a lot of similarities, but I was also hoping for some originality.
Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) is a former industrialist who wants to find out who murdered his niece 40 years ago. In order to find the killer, he goes out of his way to find someone he believes is capable of discovering the truth. With the help of an intelligent, but disturbed young woman named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), he finds Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and offers him the job.
Blomkvist is in legal trouble of his own after losing a libel case. Needing the money and wanting to stay out of sight for a while, Blomkvist accepts the offer from Vanger. After awhile, Mikael finds out how difficult this job may be and decides to enlist the help of Lisbeth when he finds out about her and learns of her capabilities.
Not surprisingly, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is very similar to the original. They took out a couple of scenes and elongated the ending, but that was about it. The only other noticeable changes were superficial and added virtually nothing to the story. The best part about the changes that were made was the fact that they removed Lisbeth Salander's armpit hair in this one. I don't know why they kept that in the first place.
I don't think it's possible to really complain about the performances of the lead actors in this film, but they didn't fit their roles as well as the one's from the original did. Daniel Craig is a good actor, but he was out-of-place to an extent, while Noomi Rapace is Lisbeth Salander to me and embodied the role more than Rooney Mara did. Rapace managed to pull off the fragile, but dangerous character that one might expect and for some reason they decided to make Mara's version more stoned faced and didn't really allow us to see the damaged Salander as much.
They included some rough scenes (usually sexual) that made this film what it was, but they weren't as brutal as they were before. I honestly expected them to dial it up a few notches since they had to know what they were dealing with. I was shocked at the fact that they didn't include one scene that helped explain some of Salander's troubles. They at least acknowledged it through words, but the scene itself was powerful and to leave it out completely doesn't make any sense. Not making some of the scenes as graphic as they were before and removing one completely hurts the true essence and soul of the film.
That point leads me to the villains in the film. The bad guys felt like bad guys in the first version and were far more menacing. I didn't really get the same negative vibe from those guys here. They did some evil things, but it didn't have the impact that it should have. I don't want to give anything away, but changing the look of certain characters or darkening a certain scene took a little life out of these particular villains for me. That's important since some of these people are rarely ever in the movie and you need to build them up as despicable human beings.
All of the core aspects are here and basically remain unchanged, but it was lacking a few things. If you haven't seen the original then you'll probably like this version more than I did. I liked it, but it's a weaker and more stylish version than the Swedish version. Hopefully the sequel will be much better than the original sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire. That movie wasn't good at all and hurt the quality of the first film trilogy.
Director: David Fincher
Yorick van Wageningen
Film Length: 158 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Distributor: Sony Pictures