Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie Review

So, there are three ways to experience the Millennium Trilogy (aka “that girl with the dragon tattoo thing”, as I’ve heard it referred to). The absolute best way to experience the story would be through the three books. I think we can all agree on that. Second would be the Swedish version that is available on Netflix. The third is the new feature film released this week in the U.S.

First, let’s talk about the 2nd option (the Swedish version). Even with subtitles, Noomi Rapace nails the best portrayal of her that I could want. Lisbeth is strong, confident, and utterly damaged. She doesn’t need a man. She’s better off without any of them–even Mikael. She’s brilliant, cunning, and as my wife says “kicks ass.”

Anyone who has seen what happens to a script that gets run through the Hollywood meat grinder knows exactly what happens to a European film adapted for American audiences. Look no further than the 2010 version of “Death at a Funeral”. I still shudder at even thinking about trying to finish that film (I couldn’t even get half-way through it the first time). Let’s face it. Sometimes, Hollywood butchers a good script.

That’s not so with the 2011 version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” They didn’t butcher it. There are improvements, and there are places where the movie didn’t live up to the Swedish version. Let’s go over a few things without giving too much away.

First, the opening credits of the latest edition are a lot more engaging. There’s a sort of black oil thing going on, and I can never get enough of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song. It’s just good fun. If there’s one thing that Hollywood still does better than anyone else, it’s flashy CGI. A++ on this effort.

Now, the most important part of the movie: Lisbeth. Not as good. Oversexed in this one and not in a way that really moved the film along better. The key scenes (like the rape) are pretty well done (as far as effect is concerned)–though I’m still partial to the Swedish version in how disturbing it was. There’s one thing I didn’t really like about Lisbeth’s character here though: she’s too… well… nice. She asks Mikael to lay down. She’s warm when I feel she shouldn’t be. She openly loves Mikael and is upset by him still sleeping around. I’m curious to how David Fincher will rectify this major change in her character. After all, her coldness is supposed to be a family trait–one she shares with her brother and father. You’re not supposed to melt the ice cube, imo. That was part of her charm and intrigue. We’ve also lost a way for her old guardian to explain to Mikael more about her father and what he’s done and is doing. I sure hope it isn’t Mikael’s daughter that manages to somehow decipher this (you’ll get this reference when you see the new version–if you’ve seen the old one).

She’s still intriguing though. And her T-shirts made my wife and I giggle. She’s still stand-offish to other people and the essence of the character is still intact. Mikael has a much larger role. Lisbeth doesn’t really solve as much as she did before, and I’m not sure if that’s altogether a good thing. After all, the next two movies are supposed to be all about her and her family. Will the audience be able to follow the big transition from “All Mikael” to “All Lisbeth” in the sequels? Probably.

This may seem like a bad review of the movie. In actuality, it’s not. I just really liked the Swedish version. My wife and I plan to go to the theater again to watch the Hollywood adaptation. We both saw and loved the Swedish version, but the new movie was very good. It was just different.

So, go out and see the new “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie. But see the Swedish version too. It’s probably best to watch the Swedish version second.

About Rex Jameson
Rex Jameson is the author of the three novels in the Primal Patterns series and half a dozen short stories. An avid history buff and an unabashed nerd with an appetite for science fiction and fantasy, he loves to create complex speculative fiction with layered characters. He earned a PhD in Computer Science at Vanderbilt University and researches distributed artificial intelligence in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Rex and his wife Jenny live in Pittsburgh where they enjoy hosting family and friends.

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