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8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 622 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 35 out of 622
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  1. Jan 15, 2012
    8
    Well, I can't help comparing it to the sweedish version which I loved. I loved the first half of this one betterr but. Was just not as satisfied at the end I was confused with the last half hour, I need to see it again. Over all great movie and definetly worth seeing. Extremlygraphic and disturbing at times...be prepared.
  2. Apr 6, 2012
    7
    This is an engagind movie, yet, that is all it is. I heard so much about it! I thought it would be original and gripping, not just a fun, 'refined' cliche but what I found was that even though it has good elements, The Girls With the Dragon Tattoo is still little more than an average movie. This film recurs to stereotypical situations and characters to create tension. They are wellThis is an engagind movie, yet, that is all it is. I heard so much about it! I thought it would be original and gripping, not just a fun, 'refined' cliche but what I found was that even though it has good elements, The Girls With the Dragon Tattoo is still little more than an average movie. This film recurs to stereotypical situations and characters to create tension. They are well developed but the movie lacks depth. Still, I enjoyed it so I went and rented the 2nd and 3rd sequels They were bad! Truly disappointing...Boring!. This one at least, has a defined plot and keeps the suspense until the end. Expand
  3. Jan 21, 2012
    9
    I'm one of those snobs who feels like the original Swedish version was a little better. The first half of this version felt rushed while the latter half seemed extended--drawn out for every minute it was worth. I did think the casting was superb and was glad they didn't water down the sensitive parts for the American audience. All in all a solid effort.
  4. Apr 1, 2012
    7
    I liked it. Solid performances by the cast. It was an interesting mystery that was nice to see unfold. I think the huge flaw of the movie is that it was a bit too long for my taste. Other than that, It was good.
  5. Jan 28, 2012
    10
    Undoubtedly, the best motion picture of the year. Besides the great screenplay and perfect music it has magnificent view in every moment. Outstanding performance of Rooney Mara made this film. It is more than thriller, more than drama. It is the whole life in the one film.
  6. Jan 29, 2012
    9
    This movie exceeds my expectations of my all-time favorite book. When seeing it, I was worried that it would be a rehashed clone of the Swedish hit movie, but, to my delight, I was wrong. Once the opening credits started, I knew I was in for the ride of my life. This movie, led by supreme acting by Mara Rooney, is artistic and moody. It is deeply disturbing, and does not shy away from itsThis movie exceeds my expectations of my all-time favorite book. When seeing it, I was worried that it would be a rehashed clone of the Swedish hit movie, but, to my delight, I was wrong. Once the opening credits started, I knew I was in for the ride of my life. This movie, led by supreme acting by Mara Rooney, is artistic and moody. It is deeply disturbing, and does not shy away from its dark subject matter. The only complaint I can say is that for a movie set in Sweden, the accents are from all over the world. Daniel Craig never drops his British accent, and even Stellan Skarsgard lacks a Swedish accent. Only Mara Rooney embraces the role completely, and takes the movie from a good movie and ensures it to be a mind-blowing movie. Expand
  7. Jan 31, 2012
    9
    An amazing movie: definitely one of the best of the year of 2011. Craig and Mara were gods... A truly great thriller. The opening scene is perfectely obscure and awesome; its even appropriated to say: legendary! The movie begins very calm and starts to speed up. David Fincher - I did not liked that much The Social Network, but this one? This one you got it right. Keep up the good workAn amazing movie: definitely one of the best of the year of 2011. Craig and Mara were gods... A truly great thriller. The opening scene is perfectely obscure and awesome; its even appropriated to say: legendary! The movie begins very calm and starts to speed up. David Fincher - I did not liked that much The Social Network, but this one? This one you got it right. Keep up the good work (like Benjamin Button and Fight Club...)! I strongly recommend! Expand
  8. Feb 3, 2012
    10
    Best remake so far,,if you already watched the original dont watch it anymore,,Rooney Mara was awesome,very good acting,,she deserve an oscar for this,,Daniel Craig very good,,and a cool opening,,thuoght i was watching james bond filmm..
  9. Feb 4, 2012
    7
    Rooney Mara vs. Noomi Rapace, that is the question. There is no real way to review this movie for me without comparing the two versions. I really love the Swedish version, so I was a little hesitant about seeing the American remake. However, a friend told me that is was good, and I should see it, so I did. This is what I think; the American remake is a solid movie, and in some casesRooney Mara vs. Noomi Rapace, that is the question. There is no real way to review this movie for me without comparing the two versions. I really love the Swedish version, so I was a little hesitant about seeing the American remake. However, a friend told me that is was good, and I should see it, so I did. This is what I think; the American remake is a solid movie, and in some cases it may be more true to the book (thatâ Expand
  10. Feb 15, 2012
    8
    David Fincher doesn't need great source material to turn in celluloid excellence: The Social Network proved that if one does than something great will occur, but the original 'Dragon Tattoo' novels are not such material. The Swedish adaptation left me cold feeling back in 2009, but given Fincher's track record, I felt like I owed this film a shot. When the opening scene of the film opensDavid Fincher doesn't need great source material to turn in celluloid excellence: The Social Network proved that if one does than something great will occur, but the original 'Dragon Tattoo' novels are not such material. The Swedish adaptation left me cold feeling back in 2009, but given Fincher's track record, I felt like I owed this film a shot. When the opening scene of the film opens with Vanger's phone call, I started to get antsy, is this going to be a shot-for-shot redux? No. No, it's not. The pulsing opening credits scored to Karen O's "The Immigrant Song" made me quite aware of that.

    Harriet Vanger has been missing for the better part of forty years, given that piece of information the fact that Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) keeps receiving portraits from his niece is disconcerting. Enter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). Facing a major libel suit and perhaps jail time, the last thing the journalist wants to do is add another opportunity to be wrong again.

    Before Vanger hands the investigation over to Blomkvist to find out why Harriet may have disappearedâ
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  11. Feb 19, 2012
    10
    David Fincher's great direction...
    Rooney Mara's remarkable performance...
    Steven Zailian's well-written screenplay...
    Easily one of the best works Fincher has done...
  12. Mar 3, 2012
    8
    Hopefully is the best movie of 2011, quite interesting script, two characters as different as they seems, a perfect combination as a team. Just one well done movie.
  13. Mar 7, 2012
    10
    This movie is a modern masterpiece. Incredibly well done, with amazing performances and a golden direction from David Ficher. Far superior than the swedish version in all the possible ways, and true to the book, this is what Dragon Tattoo fans were waiting for.
  14. Aug 1, 2012
    7
    Simply put, good but not amazing. I prefer the original miniseries from Sweden (the 6-part series, not the condensed 3 films, which remove almost 1 hour of content). While this was faithful for the script, one of the main problems for me was the English language, as it does not fit the setting of the film and loses some of the realism and grit present in the originals. That being said,Simply put, good but not amazing. I prefer the original miniseries from Sweden (the 6-part series, not the condensed 3 films, which remove almost 1 hour of content). While this was faithful for the script, one of the main problems for me was the English language, as it does not fit the setting of the film and loses some of the realism and grit present in the originals. That being said, Craig and Mara are a convincing pair, which makes this a good alternative for people who dislike reading subtitles. Expand
  15. Mar 14, 2012
    8
    This movie may not be perfect but it definitely grows on you, and Fincher has still got it. Rooney Mara, who bagged two nominations (the Golden Globes and the Oscars as well) for her goth-punk character Lisbeth Salander, pours her heart and soul into it . Her performance is the best part of the movie. But mind you, this movie isn't for the faint of heart, But a must watch for Rooney'sThis movie may not be perfect but it definitely grows on you, and Fincher has still got it. Rooney Mara, who bagged two nominations (the Golden Globes and the Oscars as well) for her goth-punk character Lisbeth Salander, pours her heart and soul into it . Her performance is the best part of the movie. But mind you, this movie isn't for the faint of heart, But a must watch for Rooney's Electrifying performance as Lisbeth! Expand
  16. Mar 16, 2012
    10
    LOVED THE CASTING. DAVID FINCHERS PERSONAL TWIST. ALL OF IT. Haven't read the books or the seen the first takes of the films, but I loved this one and hopes Fincher signs on to Direct the second and so on and so forth.
  17. Feb 5, 2013
    8
    I liked this movie. The whole investigation is so captivating and casts were great. Rooney Mara is just amazing being Lisbeth, so real and raw. I totally believed that person that she is. Plot and script were also good. Although some parts can be quite boring, but you just can't take your eyes away from Lisbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo.
  18. Nov 11, 2012
    8
    Why did I watch it?
    I am a massive fan of Steig Larsson's series of books so I was keen to see Hollywood's take on the story. I've haven't seen the original Swedish versions of the films yet.
    What's it all about? Based on the book of the same name and set in Sweden, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tells the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and extrovert
    Why did I watch it?
    I am a massive fan of Steig Larsson's series of books so I was keen to see Hollywood's take on the story. I've haven't seen the original Swedish versions of the films yet.

    What's it all about?
    Based on the book of the same name and set in Sweden, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tells the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and extrovert freelance researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) investigate the disappearance of teenager Harriet Vanger decades earlier. As the pair attempt to hunt down the murderer they become entangled in an estranged family with shady history.

    Should you watch it?
    TGWTDT is essentially a cold case whodunit but what sets the story apart is not the complexity of the wealthy Vanger family and their whereabouts on that day but the characters investigating the mystery. Blomkvist is fresh from losing a libel lawsuit and accepts the case as a sabbatical from work while Lisbeth Salander is now probably one of the most iconic female characters of recent times. A gifted researcher and computer hacker under state guardianship due to a chequered adolescence, Salander only enters the story in its main sense half way through. The first half introduces her character's issues, her initiative and resolve in the face of difficulty. Despite being a whodunit, as the title suggests, the story is really about Salander.

    I enjoyed the US film version and thought David Fincher managed to do the book justice squeezing just enough detail from the book into the two and half hours without compromising some of the more extreme scenes. I was concerned that some of the complexity of the various generations of the Vanger family would be lost in the translation from book to film but Fincher managed to explain this carefully enough with visual aids for it to get across to the audience.

    The faults with the film are similar to the book in that the postscript ending seems just as tagged onto the end but this is a small gripe and it rests with Larsson's decision to set up the next instalment here. Rooney Mara is excellent as Salander, and the production team did a great job designing her appearance true to the story.
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  19. Mar 29, 2012
    8
    Good. Love the actors and the the tone of the movie. Its has some plot issues. It can be watched but don't really let under 17 people watched as they will either be board or just freak out as is a complex story.
  20. Mar 29, 2012
    10
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo es la mejor pelicula que he visto desde hace mas de un año. La actuacion de Rooney Mara es perfecta y magistral. Daniel Craig nos da otra solida demostracion de su talento y es aun mejor que la version sueca. Me encanto y aunque dura casi 3 horas me parecio intrigante y inteligente.
  21. Apr 11, 2012
    10
    Engaging, intelligent, fantastic performances all round, masterfully shot and directed, David Fincher didn't put a foot wrong with this beautifully crafted thriller.
  22. Apr 24, 2012
    9
    Great movie! I have not yet read the books, but I definitely did not expect the plot to be what it was. Mara Rooney was fantastic as well! I think that her role was very inspirational for women, and definitely got my adrenaline going, that's what makes a good movie-when the audience can connect with the actors through emotions and actions. Can't wait to read the books!
  23. May 22, 2012
    8
    Another Fincher classic, that's all I could think after leaving this film feeling satisfied as always. I had not seen the original Swedish film before I saw this (I did a few weeks after), and found that both had definite strengths and weaknesses. Call me a sucker for Fincher's style, but I preferred this version. Mara is perfect, Daniel Craig is charming and reeks of class as always,Another Fincher classic, that's all I could think after leaving this film feeling satisfied as always. I had not seen the original Swedish film before I saw this (I did a few weeks after), and found that both had definite strengths and weaknesses. Call me a sucker for Fincher's style, but I preferred this version. Mara is perfect, Daniel Craig is charming and reeks of class as always, and everyone else is absolutely top notch. The process of the investigation leading up to the climax is all masterfully done by Fincher, he demonstrates further that there is no one better at building modern murder mysteries. The only instance in which this film falters is the last 20 minutes, after an intense climax and satisfying resolution we are treated to more of the story. It feels a little drudging and after dealing with so much ferocity in the last two hours it was difficult to become invested in the separate story (introduced in the very beginning for Craig's character). Either way, this is required viewing for any Fincher fan. Expand
  24. May 19, 2012
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Yes, I have watched the 2009 Swedish film. Yes, I have read the book trilogy. No, I do not think David Fincher's adaptation is worse than the Swedish film. It does not mean I think it is great either. However hard it must've been to adapt Stieg Larsson's trilogy to the big screen, I feel this film came closer to achieving the goal than the Swedish version, which - and I'm not speaking metaphorically - made me fall asleep (and I'm used to watching Bergman in Swedish!). The characters are well constructed, and I feel the actors playing them are better suited than the ones in the previous version (I mean, Erika is supposed to be attractive, Lisbeth is supposed to be a sociopath). Rooney Mara shows she has the potential to be one of Hollywood's great names. The photography is wonderful, with every single frame capturing the scenery beautifully. I would recommend this film to a friend, but I would specially recommend it to someone who has no plans to read the trilogy. Expand
  25. Aug 18, 2012
    7
    I've seen both the original & this remake and I have to say that although Fincher's version obviously looks better, has better production design and values and cool soundscapes by NIN they both have a very similar feel and it's probably a matter of personal taste which one you prefer. But if you have seen one you don't real need to see the other.
  26. Jun 22, 2015
    10
    Rooney Mara is a revelation as Lisbeth Salander, the damaged, aggressive computer geek and feminist revenge angel, playing the character as far more feral and vulnerable than Noomi Rapace’s borderline-stereotype sexpot Goth girl. Mara's screen presence and impressive ability to camouflage into her role makes her character more important than the plot. Her chemistry with Craig makes for anRooney Mara is a revelation as Lisbeth Salander, the damaged, aggressive computer geek and feminist revenge angel, playing the character as far more feral and vulnerable than Noomi Rapace’s borderline-stereotype sexpot Goth girl. Mara's screen presence and impressive ability to camouflage into her role makes her character more important than the plot. Her chemistry with Craig makes for an indomitable screen pair, he nominally leading their intense search into decades-old serial killings while she surges ahead, plowing through obstacles with flashes of phenomenal intellect and eruptions of physical fury. Despite ultimately borrowing many of the same plot points from the original Swedish version, as both adaptations to the big screen follow Stieg Larsson's critically acclaimed bestseller almost entirely bit by bit, Fincher's brutal yet captivating direction and Mara's total role commitment add to The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo a rather rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story. Expand
  27. Jul 21, 2012
    9
    I thought this was excellent. Being a big fan of the book and Swedish film, I was prepared to be disappointed, especially after Noomi Rapace was soo good in the original. Rooney Mara's take on Salander is different but just as good, and I was really impressed by the film. Less depth but more polished.
  28. Aug 10, 2012
    8
    Compelling and, at times, brutally graphic mystery that entertains and signals the arrival of Rooney Mara as a star, but runs about a half hour too long, dragging at the finish.
  29. Oct 3, 2012
    9
    This movie was shocking in many ways - an excellent adaptation of the book, which was a shock - on par or better than its foreign counterpart - and a very engrossing cinematic experience, not to mention an incredible journey into the depravity of the darkest of mankind. I found this movie hard to watch at times but was compelled to not shy away as it hit me in the face with the reality ofThis movie was shocking in many ways - an excellent adaptation of the book, which was a shock - on par or better than its foreign counterpart - and a very engrossing cinematic experience, not to mention an incredible journey into the depravity of the darkest of mankind. I found this movie hard to watch at times but was compelled to not shy away as it hit me in the face with the reality of the book and the deep understanding I felt toward the characters. The acting is superb and the soundtrack is some of Trent Reznor's best and most mature work to date. Expand
  30. Oct 3, 2014
    8
    USA update of the original. I went in expecting this to be inferior to the well made Swedish version and that was the consensus that I heard about the film. It does do somethings better than the original though, i found this one to be more tense (helped by a good score) in terms of narrative structure even though I knew the outcomes. The small intimate action scenes are also better inUSA update of the original. I went in expecting this to be inferior to the well made Swedish version and that was the consensus that I heard about the film. It does do somethings better than the original though, i found this one to be more tense (helped by a good score) in terms of narrative structure even though I knew the outcomes. The small intimate action scenes are also better in this version. The minor issue with this one is that the woman who played the original Lisbeth is so good in that role that it is a difficult act to follow. The actress playing her is fine, but the Swedish one is just more intense and more believable at times (dare I say i found here a little more attractive as this one is extremely thin.) Expand
  31. Sep 2, 2013
    8
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is full of twisted characters that need to be locked away from the rest of us!It`s a mystery movie that mostly takes place on an Island that feels like a cold prison for the privileged.The Main character is odd but interesting. I didn`t know much about this movie but was surprised to like it so much since it`s really not the kind of movie I normally watch.
  32. Nov 28, 2012
    8
    Featuring an uncommonly sensational performance from Rooney Mara, David Fincher's take on "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" proves to be a cerebral, vicious and worthy addition to his repertoire overall.
  33. Feb 24, 2013
    8
    After a sloppy hour, where you feel like you just made a mistake by starting this movie, the plot starts to catch up and the characters start to unfold. I haven't read the book, but the plot totally hooked me, and I loved every bit of it when the movie started to progress. Rooney Mara did a superb job on portraying Lisbeth.
  34. Mar 6, 2013
    10
    First of all, I'm a huge fan of the original Swedish film and Noomi Rapace's fantastic performance, but this one, OMG. Simply said, David Fincher's 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is a phenomenal masterpiece. I've watched this film five times and I still can't get enough of it. I can write hundreds of essays about this film, it's a perfect film for film students to deconstruct and studyFirst of all, I'm a huge fan of the original Swedish film and Noomi Rapace's fantastic performance, but this one, OMG. Simply said, David Fincher's 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is a phenomenal masterpiece. I've watched this film five times and I still can't get enough of it. I can write hundreds of essays about this film, it's a perfect film for film students to deconstruct and study about, but moreover, it's incredible entertainment. It's impossible to talk about the film without raving about Rooney Mara's hypnotic performance, which I believe is better than Noomi Rapace's performance. This girl does it all in this film, she is completely unafraid of the camera, it's as if David Fincher yelled ''action'' from another closed room and let her do her job on her own or with a cast mate in another. I seriously can't wait for the sequel... Expand
  35. Mar 8, 2014
    9
    Here comes an interesting and engaging thriller that presents itself with all kinds of twists and turns. While it may be to grotesque at times it still engages you as an audience member guessing what's going to happen next. The movie has a great cast led by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara delivering a true oscar nominated performance. It also looks outstanding with its bleek setting andHere comes an interesting and engaging thriller that presents itself with all kinds of twists and turns. While it may be to grotesque at times it still engages you as an audience member guessing what's going to happen next. The movie has a great cast led by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara delivering a true oscar nominated performance. It also looks outstanding with its bleek setting and tremendous cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth. Overall, it's an outstanding fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns. I give it an A! Expand
  36. May 17, 2013
    7
    I liked it, but I wasn't blown away by the movie. Even at two and a half hours, the story still feels cramped. This should come as no surprise, as the original book is about 600 pages of solid writing. Some elements had to be changed/cut out for the sake of pacing and cohesiveness, but overall the movie mirrors the book almost completely. Daniel Craig gives a good performance, but I feltI liked it, but I wasn't blown away by the movie. Even at two and a half hours, the story still feels cramped. This should come as no surprise, as the original book is about 600 pages of solid writing. Some elements had to be changed/cut out for the sake of pacing and cohesiveness, but overall the movie mirrors the book almost completely. Daniel Craig gives a good performance, but I felt like he was somewhat limited by the script. Rooney Mara fares better, bringing Lisbeth Salander to life, but I can't say that her performance was Oscar worthy.

    While the movie is a good one, it is far from amazing. I still think the book is a much better telling of the story, and the limitations imposed by the movie medium do show. Then again, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a far better adaptation than most book-to-movie flicks.
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  37. Jun 25, 2013
    9
    This film is a masterpiece. I've seen the Swedish one I think) and I have to say that the american is much better. The actors are fascinating. Daniel Craig, which is not one of my favorite actors impressed me and Rooney Mara was beyond excellence. The plot though it is based on a book is smart and it has suspense through the whole movie. I can't wait to see the next one. Plus, DavidThis film is a masterpiece. I've seen the Swedish one I think) and I have to say that the american is much better. The actors are fascinating. Daniel Craig, which is not one of my favorite actors impressed me and Rooney Mara was beyond excellence. The plot though it is based on a book is smart and it has suspense through the whole movie. I can't wait to see the next one. Plus, David Fincher did a great job in this one. A must-watch Expand
  38. Jan 11, 2014
    9
    Thanks to David Fincher, the world now has Rooney Mara to admire (and stare at). She plays the Goth misfit Lisbeth in this film, her first lead role, and she’s actually pretty good. She does revenge particularly well. A fierce character, while not dominating every scene, Rooney dominates the film. She is the one we think a hour later.
    I will not try and compare her performance with Noomi
    Thanks to David Fincher, the world now has Rooney Mara to admire (and stare at). She plays the Goth misfit Lisbeth in this film, her first lead role, and she’s actually pretty good. She does revenge particularly well. A fierce character, while not dominating every scene, Rooney dominates the film. She is the one we think a hour later.
    I will not try and compare her performance with Noomi Repace's, whom I also love to watch. Both do Lisbeth their
    own way.

    When Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) gets into some political hot water and needs to get out of Stockholm, he takes a job as an investigator in the Swedish countryside trying to solve the mystery of a disappeared girl, but there are people that do not want him to to find the answers. Eventually he teams up with Lisbeth and they work on the case together.

    In the first part of the film, the intersecting story lines between the two main characters are done with skill. Many scenes are not action or dialogue based, yet all they all add to the story. The decision to film this version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Sweden, as opposed to swapping it out for some American city, was a well made one.

    Since so much of the story is told in images, kudos goes to the editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall. Both are long time collaborators of Fincher, and they’ve both won multiple Oscars, including one for this film. I get the suspicion that they worked extra overtime on this movie; there are just tons and tons of scenes, a complete 180 from the style of Panic Room.

    The chemistry between Rooney and Craig really builds throughout the film as the two work great together. The irregularity of the pairing makes it much more interesting and intriguing to follow than most typical, on-screen romances.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not the most depressing of all Fincher productions, but it’s still pretty low down there, and I mean this in the best way possible. It’s either always raining or cold outside while sometimes this envorinment is contrasted against interior scenes that are pristine, white, clean. Tension. Clean rooms don't seem to apear often in Fincher films, and as expected there are many others that are dark and dirty.

    The film ends in a reasonably satisfying way leaving us hanging, waiting for the sequel.

    Errata: I could have gone without the final Stockholm scene when Lisbeth is riding her motorbike through the streets as it snows. A similar situation occurred in The Wolverine (2013) where Logan rode a motorbike through the mountains in Japanese winter. These situations would never occur. Motorbikes and snow are never a very convincing combination (for me anyway).
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  39. Mar 31, 2014
    8
    Best editing in a film adaptation you will see this side of the decade. The film runs at an arduous pace, yet that is welcomed by the audience due to its gripping story. Rooney Mara is strong, rugged, yet very human as Salander.
  40. Apr 24, 2015
    9
    The dark seeps out of the screen like living thing, evidence that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is more than a paycheck to director David Fincher, who has improbably affixed his own imprint on a movie that comes weighted down with possibilities and expectations no filmmaker should have to contend with. Aided by a tightly-wrapped screenplay adapted from Stieg Larsson's global best-sellerThe dark seeps out of the screen like living thing, evidence that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is more than a paycheck to director David Fincher, who has improbably affixed his own imprint on a movie that comes weighted down with possibilities and expectations no filmmaker should have to contend with. Aided by a tightly-wrapped screenplay adapted from Stieg Larsson's global best-seller by Steven Zaillian, Fincher strips the material to its skeleton, then adds back the sinew and tissue to create something that is unmistakably The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but in no way a carbon copy of the earlier Swedish movie or the book itself. This is what a movie adaptation should be: a film whose base narrative has its roots in the source material but whose soul can be identified through the images that unfold on screen.

    When, in early 2010, Columbia Pictures announced their intention to film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the question that crossed many lips was, "Why?" After all, there was already a very good adaptation available, a 2009 Swedish production directed by Niels Arden Oplev with a star-making turn from Noomi Rapace. The intention to "remake" The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in English with an A-list star smacked of a cash-grab. Whatever the motivations, however, this interpretation of Larsson's story can stand proudly alongside the Swedish version. Both tell the same basic story, but there are enough differences - some subtle, some significant - that each can be enjoyed on its own terms. And, although Oplev will always have the distinction of being first, the strengths of Fincher's film reminds us that first is not always best.

    Two key elements differentiate Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Oplev's (and please don't misread this in any way as a denunciation of the Swedish interpretation, which was one of my top films of 2010). The first is the aesthetic. Filmed with a bigger budget and an auteur behind the camera, the 2011 movie is steeped in bleak, cold darkness. Everything, from the wintery setting to the gloomy interiors to the way scenes are photographed, enhances this aspect. Oplev's approach was more straightforward and not as assured. The second is the way the characters are represented. Fincher softens the edges and presents us with more emotionally complex individuals. Oplev emphasizes individual characteristics. Some of the characters in the 2009 movie are little more than caricatures (the vile and sadistic Bjurman being an example), but Fincher quests for ambiguity.

    Zaillian's screenplay does a better job than the one penned by Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg in distilling Larssson's convoluted story into something movie audiences can absorb without a primer. In fairness to the writers of the Swedish version, their 180-minute original lost 28 minutes in the transition from TV mini-series to motion picture, and that's part of the reason for its occasionally erratic tone and discontinuities. Still, Zaillian has surgically altered Larsson's book for the screen by cutting, adding, and changing where necessary. The final result is a coherent, well-developed murder mystery that is neither rushed nor sluggish. It also keeps us waiting for a while for the two main characters to meet - that doesn't happen until the one-hour mark. Until that point, their stories are kept separate to better clarify their places in the overall narrative and to provide a stronger sense of who they are as individuals (rather than as a pair). Once they meet, they get to share the screen often enough to generate a peculiar frisson.

    Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also manages to make Mikael into more than a nondescript detective and straight man for Lisbeth's weird brilliance. (In this milieu, she's Holmes to his Watson.) Craig, aided by the screenplay, fleshes out Mikael. He is never as captivating as Lisbeth, but neither does he vanish into her shadow. The quasi-romantic relationship that develops between the two is more intriguing than the more traditional one in the Swedish movie. Here, their emotional investment is unequal, with Mikael viewing it as casual while Lisbeth, for perhaps the first time in her life, has discovered feelings between the sheets (or, more appropriately, on top of them).

    Personally, I would love to see what this creative team could do with those books (which are inferior to the first one). Regardless of what happens in the future, however, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can stand on its own as Fincher's valentine to goth girl power, detective stories, and the grotesqueness of the human heart.
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Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 22, 2011
    70
    Has much to recommend it - high-end craftsmanship, a singular heroine, a labyrinthine mystery, an intriguing milieu - yet lacks a vital spark.
  2. 70
    David Fincher's American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo adds nothing to the previous adaptation, but it's certainly the more evocative piece of filmmaking.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 22, 2011
    63
    From him (Fincher), we get – what? – a faithful adaptation that brings the dazzle but shortchanges on the daring.