Monday, December 26, 2011

What I Saw: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What I Saw:   The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Really? This is the film that fanboys have been dying to see? Fincher fanboys, Larsson fanboys, Lisbeth fanboys, Mara fanboys and possibly some Craig/Blomqvist fangirls too, have hyped this movie all year long, insisting that it was going to be David Fincher’s glorious response to his Social Network loss, and Rooney Mara’s ticket to the Kodak theater.

I’ll grant you that the opening sequence was fast paced like the first trailer, and that Lisbeth gets a few well-placed catchphrases throughout the film. I can even appreciate the artistry of the costumes and art direction which helped to set the mood of the sixties flashbacks, or the skill evident in the cinematography, editing and score. But the film didn’t effectively utilize these technical achievements to further the story, nor did they provide enough atmosphere to keep me engaged. If anything, they felt like a distraction and contributed to my lack of interest. I found that I didn’t care about any of the characters, whether heroes, villains or victims, and the investigative techniques felt stale and routine. Despite its two and a half hour running time, the movie lacked a compelling sense of mystery, and then rushed through the resolution scenes involving Harriet, Wennerstrom and Anita.

So have at it fanboys and fangirls: Keep talking about the relationship to the books, or comparing this remake to the Swedish original. Debate all you want about whether Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara is more beautiful or badass or brutal. Keep telling me that the second and third installments of the series are where all the action is. Because each time you do, it only makes me wonder why this version turned out to be such a boring film.

Oscar Chances:

I had been suspicious enough of the fanboy chatter to keep TGWTDT out of my nominee lists for the major categories, but admit that I fell victim to it enough to keep Fincher and Mara within striking ground. It’s always possible that the Academy’s technical branch will see something that I didn’t, but at this point I think that Reznor and Ross’ score is the only serious contender for a nomination.

Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (currently ranked 4)
Sound Mixing (currently ranked 2, will drop in next predictions)
Film Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (currently ranked 5, likely to drop in next predictions)
Adapted Screenplay: Steven Zaillian (currently ranked 7)
Best Director: David Fincher (currently ranked 7, will drop in next predictions
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenworth (currently ranked 7)
Lead Actress: Rooney Mara (currently ranked 8. Holding steady due to Golden Globes nomination)
Makeup (currently ranked 11, likely to drop in next predictions)
Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt and K.C. Fox (currently ranked 12)
Best Picture (currently ranked 13, will drop in next predictions)
Sound Editing (currently ranked 20)
Costume Design: Trish Summerville (currently ranked 22)
Lead Actor: Daniel Craig (currently ranked 39)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!

My Lamb Score: 1 1/2 out of 5 Lambs
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Read more of my reviews HERE.


  1. Great review. I actually don't understand all of the raves this film is getting either. It's a flawed adaptation of a flawed book.

    I also think the film's only chance at the Oscars are technicals. I think it is in for Original Score, but it will struggle to get in anywhere else.

  2. This whole 'Dragon Tattoo' phenomenon is going right by me... it's way too dark for my liking, and I don't feel like I'm missing anything if I don't watch any of the films.

  3. So let me get this straight: if someone loves a certain film, but you don't think he's right, it means that the guy is a fanboy?

    Dude, i'm kinda offended from this reviwe. the fact that You didn't like it dosen't make those who did like it "fanboys".

  4. @Ryan, Now that Reznor & Ross have been welcomed into the club, we know that there's a better possibility that they'll be taken seriously. I'm hoping that they can repeat soon.

    @Ruth, I definitely can't blame you for skipping it. I don't think there's anything revelatory about it.

    @Anonymous, I certainly didn't mean to offend you my friend! Of course it is possible for people to disagree about any film without one of them being a fanboy. And even among the people who like it there can be lots of different reasons why they like it. My point was just that the level of hype that I've seen on the blogosphere tells me there's something else going on for a lot folks. And for this series in particular, I do think that it is fair to say that many of those folks (though not all) definitely fit into the fanboy definition.

    And at the same time, I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with being a fanboy. In fact, there are probably some series where I would be considered a fanboy myself! It just means that they like the series, character or actor for reasons that are really outside of the film itself, and for that reason those who aren't already fans are unlikely to be anywhere near as excited as they are.

  5. Thanks for the explanation, though I still hate the term "fanboy", since no one is ready to explain when you stop being someone who likes a product, and become a "Fanboy". As someone who dosen't hate the "Call of Duty" series of video games, I know how it is like to being called fanboy all the time, and it is not fun a t all.

    Anyway, I still think that this film has a chance at the oscars. to me, it looks much like "True Grit" - critics love it, but th guilds and golden globes ingnoring it. yet - I do think he got get a few nominations.

  6. @Anonymous, I can understand that. Maybe in a similar way that some people use "Oscar Bait" as a negative to describe a lot of the films that I (we) love. I suppose that I've learned to reclaim a lot of words that other people take as negative, so much so that I forget that there is still an edge to them for some folks.

    Rooney Mara did get the Golden Globe nomination, (in a field of 10 when you count drama & comedy), so I haven't dropped her from my lists. I can see the True Grit analogy, but I get the feeling that the Academy loves the Coen brothers a lot more than they love Fincher, and I'm thinking that if a late release film is going to break in, it will probably be the Daldry.

  7. I saw the original movie last year and don't really feel like seeing it again, especially given the fact that I didn't really enjoy the original all that much in the first place.

    I doubt the movie will garner any type of major nominations Oscar-wise especially since it's not doing so well at the box office.

  8. wow, i actually thought the emotional disconnect really captured one of the themes of the movie. the coldness of both the weather and the characters really drove it home. i don't consider it much of an action movie, but rather a crime drama. an unorthodox one to me, mostly in part due to the atypical female heroine.

  9. @NeverTooEarlyMP: I just want to point out that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. That might hinder the Best Picture and Best Director possibility.

  10. Mara and Craig are both good here and Fincher is obviously on his A-game, but I still went into this not expecting any surprises and that's sort of what I got. It was a good and entertaining flick, just nothing all that special in the end. Good review.

  11. @Castor, I have the same reaction after seeing this one. Now that I've seen it, I can't imagine going to check out the book or the original.

    @Candice, I see what you're saying about the emotional disconnect being intentional, but for me the crime drama investigation also fell flat. I'm all in favor of new roles for women and new LGBT roles too, but even with her getting revenge and taking control of her own sexuality, I couldn't shake the feeling that the film was just another straight boy fantasy. Maybe the book is different, but it didn't show up for me in the movie.

    @Anonymous. You may be right about ELAIC. I heard somewhere that New York critics are giving it much worse reviews than critics in other parts of the U.S., but admit that even I am a bit worried about whether it will have too much false sentimentality.

    @Dan O., Thanks. I just couldn't seem to get into it, I guess.

  12. The book is really good!!The only thing about the book that disturbs me is that all the male characters in the books are sex crazed or rapist....Happy New Year!!!

  13. @F.Franklin, I've heard good things about the books too, so I'm not sure whether there was a problem crossing over, or if the material just wasnt for me. Happy New Year to you my friend!

  14. Proud fanboy of this series here, and yes, I will continue to comparing all three forms thus far, thank you very much. ;)

    But seriously, my only real qualm with what you've said here comes down to a matter of perception - I think plenty of folks had their curiosity piqued at the thought of Fincher with this material, but I swear I've not seen this avalanche of super-hype that you claim to have seen. As an admitted lover of the books and liker of the Swedish films, I was at first (of coursE) disappointed with the news of an immediate American redux a la Let Me In, but I can't say that the teaser trailer didn't get me more psyched for it. Still, I don't think I had any illusions that this would be some Best Picture winner.

    Of course, having said that, and perhaps owing to my somewhat lowered expectations, I loved this film - it was almost exactly the adaptation of the book I was wanting. It certainly has flaws (and carries many over from the book), but many of those go back to my thinking while reading it that it would not make for a great film. A miniseries (with all three stories), but not three overstuffed films.

    And yea, the score had better get a nom.

  15. @Dylan, I'm really glad you liked it, since pleasing the fanboys is really the most important thing a movie needs to do. ;)

    I'm still not sure exactly why I couldn't relate to this one. I usually do get into strong women, strong LGBT characters and movies where they solve a crime, but for some reason this one just didn't appeal to me.

    Maybe the hype I'm reading comes from other parts of the internet. On some of the Oscar blogs, people were raving about this even last year (partly due, no doubt to the fact that the Swedish film was still in discussion). Some of my Oscar buddies are still steaming mad over The Social Network's loss, so maybe that's part of it too. (For my part, I would have prefered it to win, but I am often disappointed by the Academy's eventual picks, so I'm used to it!)

    In fairness, I think I may have to apply the fanboy label to myself next week, after I've seen Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady!