Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Soon you'll know us all too well, with my apologies:" The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Film Foray Cavalcade no. Cincuenta y Uno: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I will be the first to say that I do not understand the phenomenon that is the Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy of Swedish novels and films. The stories themselves did not seem particularly compelling from the reviews that I read or the conversations I had with various folks after it burst unto the American literary and cinematic scene. In fact, I tried to read the novel that this film was based and made it through seven pages before relegating it to the reject bin. Ever the literary snob, it was below my standards as misogyny is not something that I seek out when in the mood for a light read (For those keeping tally, I should have looked no further than the title, Men Who Hate Women). I would have avoided the American remake as well had David Fincher not been involved in the project. Needless to say, my intrigue was very short lived.

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a magazine publisher, whose career is in the proverbial toilet after he published libel against a crooked businessman, Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires an organization to compile an extensive background check on Blomkvist in hopes that he will perform a job for him. Vanger hopes that the investigative genius that is Mikael Blomkvist will be able to solve the forty year old murder case of his niece, Harriet. During his investigation of the Vanger family (a collection of anti-socials and Nazis), Blomkvist hires Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to research a notebook that eventually reveals a wider string of murders. 

As was mentioned earlier, any interest for this film was effectively dashed when the opening credit sequence opened with the worst cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song in the history of music (This includes the times that yours truly has sang it in the shower but i digress). This struck me as slightly odd since I enjoy Karen O... I suppose blame should shift to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who create yet another uninspired film score (Baffles me how they won an Academy Award for The Social Network). The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is many things but it is not a great film and I hereby make the argument that it is not a good one either. It is a well-shot film and definitely deserved the accolades that it received in that regard. It is also a well-cropped (edited) film, so much so that I had to bring that up to our resident expert on such matters. 

Dragon Tattoo also contains a stellar performance from the only Mara sister who can act (Rooney) and Daniel Craig is pretty good in his own right. The film has a fatal flaw in that the story and screenplay are not only bad, they are piss poor. The story is poorly paced and does not become engaging until the last quarter of the film. Of course, by this time, you have already solved the "mystery" and do not mind stepping out of the room while the film is playing. Maybe I have come to expect more from the man who penned such films as Schindler's List, Awakenings, Gangs of New York and Moneyball (with Aaron Sorkin). Yes, Steven Zaillian, I would be embarrassed to put my name on this screenplay... I suppose that you laughed all the way to the bank. The film may show a side of the world that one does not see typically in Hollywood and presents in such a blunt and dull fashion that I could care less if I do not see more of it in the future. Much of the blame resides with Zaillian but the late Stieg Larsson also played a role by penning the source material. What do I know though, I could only make it through seven pages.

Parting Thoughts:
Much like Bence's review of the film, I have to highlight the return to form of the following man:

I am glad to see that his performance in Thor was just a one-time thing.

Rooney Rating:
(This is very generous and is many because of the technical and acting elements... The rest was forgettable)

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