“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – Review by MovieManMenzel

David Fincher makes Rooney Mara into a star in this well crafted Americanize version of the beloved international sensation.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of three films based off a series of three novels by Stieg Larsson. In this first chapter, Mikael (David Craig) is hired by a billionaire to track down the murderer of his niece Harriet who was killed over forty years ago. As Mikael begins to investigate the case, he soon learns that he is in way over his head with the complexity of the case and hires Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) to assist him. Lisbeth is one of the best researchers in the world and is known for bringing up dirt on people that no other researcher can find. It isn’t long before the duo begin to unravel this sick and twisted murder that involves more than just one female girl.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those films that I had on my highly anticipated list of 2011. I had no idea what it was about nor did I have any clue what it’s story entailed. I did realize that this was an Americanize retelling of an international book and film series, but I didn’t read the books nor did I see any of the other films. I went into this film blind as they say, knowing nothing other than the film was directed by David Finchner and starred Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Stellan Skarsgard. The trailers never gave away anything about this film and left the audience who weren’t avid fans uncertain of what they were watching. I love films that are marketed that way because it allows for a more honest reaction when you go see the film.

As I was sitting in the theater waiting for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to begin, one of the many regulars at the screenings asked me if I saw the original films that this was based off of and I responded by stating the truth “no, I haven’t.” He then proceeded to inform me that this one could never live up to the originals. Which as soon as he made that comment, the lights in the theater went dim and the movie began. This quote stood in my head during the entire film. When the film ended, I couldn’t disagree more. While, I have not seen the original films, this movie was pretty spectacular. I love dark films with a great story, amazing acting, and a realistic display of how society today is. This had all those elements.

Rooney Mara is remarkable as Lisbeth aka The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. When they were going through the casting process for this film, there were a lot of people in the running and I was kind of shocked when they picked Mara out of all the other actresses in the running. Now, having seen the film, I can’t picture anyone else for the movie besides Mara. Finchner really has an eye for talent (kind of like Nolan) and his transformation of Mara into Lisbeth is worthy of both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Mara has been a really big up and comer now for a while now, but never had a chance to really shine besides in this film and her small role in Finchner’s other film, The Social Network. Mara’s portrait of Lisbeth is dark, depressing, and intelligent. She is one of those rare characters that seems like such an unlikable ugly person on the surface, but as the film goes on its almost like you can’t help, but cheer for her and really like her. This is a really difficult character to play due to how complex and twisted this character is. There are a lot of skeletons in Lisbeth’s closet and Mara portrays them all with perfection.

Daniel Craig is also pretty solid as the lead male. Its nice to see him take a role unlike his role in the James Bond films. His chemistry with Mara is dead on and they work awesome as a team. Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard have smaller supporting roles in this film, but are both equally as good in their roles. The acting in this film is excellent especially when you consider how big budget of a project that this is.

David Finchner is such a solid director and really proves it over and over again. I have been a fan of almost all his work with the Social Network being my top pick and now Girl with the Dragon Tattoo being my close second choice. He is remarkable as a director because he really knows how to get the most out of his actors, but also really knows how to capture the moments and make them memorable. There is a scene in this film involving Lisbeth that had me squirming in my seat…actually there were two scenes that made me squirm in my seat. Finchner’s eye for directing made these scenes so powerful and disturbing to watch. He also has a real knack for creating a mood for particular scenes. It all worked so well, not to mention, the awesome opening credits that was both a treat for the eyes and the ears.

At the end of the day, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a solid flick that really made me a fan of this series. I anxiously await the next chapter in this series, if it actually happens because unfortunately,I can’t see this film being a huge blockbuster success considering how dark and deep of a movie it is. The film doesn’t have mainstream appeal, which is definitely not a bad thing, because its intelligent and well constructed, however, it isn’t good for those of us who really like this film and can’t wait for the next two entries due to how expensive the film was to make. This is a fantastic film for those who were fans of the original series and those who enjoy a really good film loaded with realistic characters and tells a story of the dark side of humanity. I can’t believe Rooney Mara only got paid $200,000 for this film. That’s absolutely nuts considering how amazing her performance was and how much it required from her. I can’t wait to see again when it hits DVD, if I don’t get a chance to venture back to the theater to see it again before it stops playing.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an 8 out of 10.

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