When a disgraced journalist is hired by a wealthy industrialist to investigate the murder of his niece, he stumbles into a mystery that might just cost him his life.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a hard film to watch, let alone review. To discuss it at length is to give away some of the mystery of the film. To not discuss it at length is to be able to not criticize it’s flaws properly. So, it is a catch 22. Do I give away the mystery or do I try to keep this spoiler free? I am going with spoiler free.
Directed by David Fincher (Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a mystery film promoted as a gothic horror film. If you are thinking you are getting horror, be warned that that is not what this is. Based on the novel by Stieg Larrson, this is a film that will make you uncomfortable watching it. It pulls no punches and is very harsh and hard to watch at certain points.
Daniel Craig (Cowboys and Aliens, James Bond) plays Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist who is hired to look into the 40 year old murder of an industrialist’s niece. When he relocates to investigate, he stumbles on family secrets that are better left hidden. In the course of his investigation, he hires an assistant Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to help with the myriad details. Together, the two of them uncover a life or death secret. Also starring Stellan Skarsgaard, Christopher Plummer, and Robin Wright.
The film is absolutely gorgeous with every scene lovingly photographed and stunning. The cinematography is top notch, but cold; as cold as Sweden where is was filmed and is based. The frigidity of the environments comes through clear and cold.
I did have a few problems with the film that I am going to attempt to discuss spoiler free. First and foremost was the quick cuts of the film. It bounces so quickly from scene to scene that you barely have time to process what came in the scene before. It propels you through a mystery as if you are on a ride at an amusement park. It gives you no time to keep up with the story and plot before unleashing another barrage of information. While I understand there is a lot to get through in the run time, this was a bad decision because it does not give you, as an audience member, a chance to solve the mystery. It feeds you everything on a silver platter. You feel like you’re on a ride, not solving a crime. And this is a crime in a murder mystery.
While the casting was great, I did have a problem with Daniel Craig’s accent. Everyone in the film was required to speak in a Swedish accent except for, apparently, Daniel Craig. He still speaks with his British accent and it is jarring, especially when he is blatantly a Swedish character. With a name like Blomkvist, it has to be Swedish. In any other film this would not have bothered me, but as there was such careful, even loving, detail put into the film, this little snafu threw me out of the film a bit.
I also had a problem with the barrage of characters in this film. They took very little effort to identify the characters and as a result you have characters who are not explained and what they are there for. Certain people have scenes that seem to be there for no apparent reason other than to extend the run-time. They do not propel the story, only seem to be filler.
The video quality on the blu-ray was stunning. This was a very great transfer. Every frame was gorgeous and it appears that the film was shot digital, because that’s the only way to get such a great picture. Very well done. You’d be hard pressed to find a better visual presentation.
On the audio side, this will give your 5.1 surround a workout. While it is not always a huge, in your face soundtrack, there are times when it will blow you out of your seat. There was loving care put into the sound mix as evidenced by the constant blowing of the winds through your rear channels. This is a true ‘surround’ sound mix as it envelops you in the harsh winds of northern Sweden.
As for the special features, I watched this as a rental and the only feature on the disc was a commentary track from Fincher.
Overall, this is not a horrible film, just not up to the high standards that David Fincher has set for himself. Of the films he has directed, this has to be my least favorite. Yes, I am including Alien 3 in that equation as well. I was disappointed in this film, but having seen the original Swedish film version and having read the novel that they are based upon, this was about as good as the movie could get.
Movie **1/2 out of ****
Blu-Ray*** out of ****
Here is the opening sequence to the movie. Reminds me of a gothic James Bond, which is ironic since Daniel Craig is James Bond. I really dig this title sequence and the cover of Immigrant Song originally recorded by Led Zeppelin, here performed by Karen O and Trent Reznor.