[Minor spoilers ahead – BEWARE!]
I remember hearing about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo first as a book and then later as a Swedish-made movie. The title sounded interesting, and I’ve been wanting to pick it up for a while. (I still haven’t read the series, but I’m definitely putting it on my “must read” list for 2012.) One day when my friend and I were bored and all we wanted to do was watch movies, we turned on Netflix and saw the original Swedish version. Both of us had always wanted to see it, so we chose it and sat down to watch the two and a half hour flick.
Wow. It was not at all what I was expecting, but it was such a fantastic movie. But, this review is for the 2011 movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. The big question is – did they need to remake the movie? I’m a little torn. I really enjoyed (is that the proper word? It is a pretty intense movie…) the first one, but I loved the fact that I didn’t have to read all of the subtitles this time around. From what I remember, they stayed pretty close to what the original movie was like. I think this was just a way to take a great movie and make it more accessible to more people. They didn’t stray far from the look, feel, and telling of the first one because it did such a good job. So, did they really need to tell the same story twice? No. Was it a good marketing move? Probably.
I liked a lot of things about this movie. It was dark, gritty, and real. There are a lot of scenes that make you squirm in your seat because it feels so horribly realistic. They don’t hide anything. They don’t cover up anything to make it less uncomfortable for you. Everything is raw and authentic – whether we like it or not. I also like the general plot line (which means I would probably enjoy the books). It’s a compelling mystery with a solution that the main characters come to in a realistic way – after looking through a lot of newspaper articles and pictures for a very, very long time. Lisbeth is my favorite character, which is funny given who she is and what she is like. You would think that her personality would deter you from liking her – she’s definitely not normal, she’s completely unstable, and lacks quite a bit of tact. But she’s compelling. You know she’s been through Hell and back, and yet she’s still fighting for her life. There’s something about that characteristic that really draws me in and makes me like her.
So, the things that I didn’t like? There are surprisingly few, and they aren’t that big of a deal. I’m torn between Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth, who is quieter and more dangerous, and Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth, who shows more emotion but still manages to scare the crap out of you. (She will never be pigeon-holed as an actress – take her work on The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and compare them.) I really can’t decide which one I like better, so I’ve decided that I like them both for different reasons. I do miss the large dragon tattoo that Noomi had, though. Rooney’s is quite a bit smaller. The other thing is the length of time that this movie ran for – just shy of three hours. There was nothing wrong with the pacing, but I did start to wonder when the movie was going to end. This might have been because I had literally just watched Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, then turned around and watched this one. That’s A LOT of time in a movie theatre. (Oh, and fun fact of the day? Noomi (who played the original Lisbeth in the Swedish version) plays the gypsy character in Game of Shadows.) And the last thing was the ending – this one told a little bit more than the original one did, and it didn’t exactly end on a high note. Although this might be a good thing – I really want to know what happens next, now.
So, I do highly recommend you seeing both the original version and this version. Beware, though – if swearing, sex, and violence bother you, I don’t think you should watch either one. It’s an intense movie, but the story is well worth the emotional roller coaster. I’d love to read a comparison of the two movies (or even do one myself) so if you know of anywhere that has this, please leave it in the comments below!
And the future of the films? Well, there are three books, so I can imagine there will be three films. I haven’t seen the other two Swedish versions, though they all came out a few years ago. IMDB states that The Girl Who Played with Fire (the English version, with Rooney Mara) is in development right now. Given the reviews and praise I’ve seen so far, I think they’ll be able to make all three movies without a problem.