Sunday, December 25, 2011

Phil sees THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-December 24, 2011

As I've said numerous times before, I'm not a big fan of remakes. A lot of the are very unnecessary, and the end results are just appalling and forgettable. Some of them are so bad I sometimes find myself laughing during the film. But every know and then there are remakes that trump the original (John Carpenter's THE THING and David Cronenberg's THE FLY come to mind). The second film I saw today THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a perfect example of a remake that falls in the later category.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film focuses on Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a disgraced, left-wing liberal journalist who is in mist of being sued for slander, is hired by retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate and solve the murder of his niece Harriet Vanger, who disappeared almost 40 years ago. In need of assistance, Mikael is paired with 24 year-old computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Soon they both encounter the truth behind Harriet's disappearance, and come face to face with the infamous "killer of women."

I have seen the original Swedish films when they were first released and these were dark, intense, violent, and brutal films to watch. When I first heard about the American remakes, I thought they was no way that they would be made. No way in Hell would the MPAA allow the film to be released in theaters here in America. However once I heard that director David Fincher (Zodiac, Se7en, The Social Network) was on board to helm the remake, I knew this was going to work. But I had no idea how incredible the film would be.

Right from the offset of the film, watching the opening credits with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O howling her rendition of Led Zepplin's classic "Immigrant Song" while computer images of sheer black leather are animated to resemble the characters in the film, I knew I was going to see something dark, ominous, and bleak. The film stays very faithful to Stieg Larsson's Swedish serial-killer novel and credit goes to Fincher, he doesn't shy away from the taboo elements of the novel: rape, torture, bigotry and murder are left intact and the camera unflinchingly captures this. Add that the film was shot entirely in Sweden, giving the film the authenticity of the novel and the original films.

Craig does a great job of portraying Mikael, bringing intelligence and but Craig still looks too cool and isn't as vulnerable as Michael Nyqvist, the actor in the original Swedish version. This is my only nit-pick about Craig, but you have to give Mara high praise for taking on such a dark, morbid, and fierce role. Portraying Lisbeth is not an easy task, given that Swedish actress Noomi Rapace has made that character an instant international icon. But Mara pulls it off; brooding, insane, intelligent, and tattoos and piercings has never looked sexier. Her scenes are not what most Hollywood actresses can or could handle. The infamous rape scene is brutal to watch, and one cannot watch this without flinching and becoming sick with disgust. Mara handles the intense subject matter with believability and her revenge scene is precise and just. Also Mara took her role of Lisbeth very seriously: all the piercings she sports in the film are real not cosmetic simulations! She got the piercings in a series of sessions in both Brooklyn and Sweden. Now how's that to commitment!

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is one of the best films to be released this holiday season! The movie's a beautifully filmed nightmare showcasing the dark side of humanity; a bleak and grotesque examination of all the things that is wrong with man. It is the perfect anti-Christmas film, so after spending the holidays with your family, go see this film and be thankful that you aren't related to these people. Five out of five stars!! Two very big thumbs up!!

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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