Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Help Me

There are remakes, and then some. Hollywood has been raiding cinema from around the world for creative inspiration. When all else fails, buy the rights and remake the movies for the US market, where chances are its mass audiences haven't chanced upon the originals since we all understand how popular the reading of subtitles is. not. Some remakes offer something a lot more than the original when set in the US context, such as Martin Scorsese's The Departed (adapting from Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs), or horror films with almost shot for shot remade with Matt Reeves' Let Me In (from Sweden's Let The Right One In), and now the psychological thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo directed by Niels Arden Oplev being remade by David Fincher.

I am a fan of David Fincher's works, but alas I can't say with the same level of enthusiasm that his remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo deserved any acknowledgement that it's much better than the original. Far from it, that's just hyperbole. Oplev's film had all the right elements that made it a great edge-of-your-seat ride, with Noomi Rapace bursting onto the scene owning the role of the social misfit Lisbeth Salander, with a sprawling narrative kept tight with interesting twists to the entire plot. Some remakes manage to turn what's great into something better, or at least met the benchmark set by the original, but David Fincher's derivative remake only managed to barely do so.

To those who have said that it's great, I think they do have to recognize the contribution that the late novelist Stieg Larsson had in coming up with his Millennium trilogy of novels and creating the characters of Mikael Blomkvist (now played by Daniel Craig) and Lisbeth Salander (in a role taken over by Rooney Mara), crime-busting partners who spend the first third of the story in separate arcs to establish them, before coming together as crime busting duos, with a predominant female being both the brains - photographic memory, great computer hacking skills - and the brawn between them. The romance is perfunctory to satisfy primal needs, although Fincher's version did try to provide a level of emotional attachment especially with the final scene.

Apart from the Bond-ish looking opening credits set against the music by Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score being one of the limited highlights of the film, this remake will bore the wits out of those who have seen the original. In other words, skip it and you won't be missing anything. I've watched my fair share of original movies and their remakes by Hollywood, but this remake somehow had its soul sucked out from it, resulting in a lifeless entity going from scene to scene that one will already know of, in how the story would develop, and what red herrings get strewn around. Minor tweaks got made but they're really no big deal, and the Nordic-accented English adopted by the characters will irritate as it tries so really hard to be authentic since the setting in Sweden didn't change to some US locale.

But to those who have not seen Oplev's film, then David Fincher's version will set to wow. You will marvel at Rooney Mara's rendition of Lisbeth who is very much unlike any heroine seen before on the big screen, but not to take away her efforts put into her role, should you compare her take and that of Rapace's, you will see that the former is just trying too hard, unlike Rapace's who came off with a natural spunk. Even Daniel Craig looked the meeker version of Michael Nyqvist's take as Mikael, with the updated Hollywood version looking like a very clean and polished product as compared to the grittier version of the original.

I sure would be interested to know how David Fincher's first cut of the film, reported to be three hours and seven minutes long, would have changed the mood and feel. Those scenes could have been the saving grace in making it distinctly different from the original, and value adding in terms of characters and plot. If the final scene here proved to be the bulk in spirit of the extra scenes shot, then it would be worth a watch. Otherwise if given the option to watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the first time, then stick to the Swedish original since the remake can't really beat the real thing.

1 comment:

Thomas Watson said...

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has the potential to finally reinvigorate a 10 year old dead genre, the serial killer flick.

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