Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fincher reimagines aspects of 'Dragon Tattoo'

The posthumous novel by Stieg Larsson has sold over 15 million copies in the U.S. alone and the original Swedish-language film adaptation has already become a cult-favorite. So, how could American director David Fincher bring something new to the widely admired story? Re-imagine it, of course.

From the abstract opening-credit sequence to the cinematography all the way to the most obsessive attention to detail, Fincher retells Dragon Tattoo in his darkly saturated, gritty style.

It's a pretty faithful adaptation, but Fincher is able to re-imagine certain elements, certain story-lines in such a cognitive and innovative way it's never insulting or mockingly.

This version has all the same elements as the Swedish version, but heightened due to a bigger budget. An amazing score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, gorgeous cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth, fast-paced, high adrenaline action and of course, a smart crime-mystery story makes this film just as engrossing as the first.

However, my only critique is perhaps the most important element of the story: the protagonist--Lizbeth Salander.

The story revolves around Lizbeth Salander, a part-time computer hacker and full-time bad-ass, and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a journalist, who team up to piece together a decades-old murder-mystery.

In the Swedish version, Noomi Rapace portrayed the bad-ass female heroine with so much attitude and discipline, for loyal fans of the series, it's hard to imagine anyone else could have portrayed Salander better. But for her break-out role, Rooney Mara did an incredibly amazing job as the American lead in this version and might even get her an Oscar nomination; it just wasn't up to par with Rapace's convicting portrayal of this damaged character.

Rapace was able to be tough and sexy at the same time, but never romanticized her role. This is not easy to achieve. I felt Fincher added more humanity to Salander in his version and added almost a childlike vulnerability to the character. There's nothing wrong with that, but compared to the original film, it feels a bit "softened," which is a bit of an understatement if you're aware of the heavy subject matter of the film.

But leave it to Fincher to make up for it; he's known for his sinfully tasteful films, incorporating almost an art-house style to his psychological thrillers, i.e.: Fight Club, Se7en, and Zodiac.  And last year's critically acclaimed The Social Network made him the ideal director to helm this high-speed action film about a computer hacker going through years of data to solve a murder case.

As far as the film strays from the original, at times, Fincher goes above and beyond in re-telling it in his unique way and should nonetheless please fans of the original story. It's a great film to watch for the holidays--just don't take your kids to see it!

Rating: B+

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