Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

***THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS - sincerest apologies***

This is an open letter to Hollywood - STOP turing popularly artistic foreign films into your big budgeted, box office cash cows!


Simply because you have the tendency to add, flip, delete, re-arrange, water down, etc the original foreign material to fit the average American movie-going audience's intelligence and attention span. For example, Let The Right One In, a beautiful Swedish movie but horribly Americanized re-make with 30 minutes lopped off.

Now you have sunk your greedy fingers into another Swedish film - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Thank the blessed goodness that Stieg Larsson isn't alive to see what you have done to his book. You have flipped the original Swedish version - granted adding more details than the original HOWEVER by adding too much you have revealed a major secret and re-arranged the original ending (and more) that does NOT coincide with the book and/or Swedish film. If you have read the book and/or seen the Swedish original, SouthSide advises that you stop reading this review now ...or suffer the agony of what has been changed.

If you're currently reading the book before going to see the movie, she strongly advises that you stop immediately's not going to enhance what you have already read.

HOWEVER if you're among those who haven't seen the Swedish original and/or read the book, then this movie is simply tailored for you since you won't have a clue that the movie's original premise was designed around a mystery ...not solely on two main characters, Mikeal Blomkvist (Daniel Craig replacing Michael Nyqvist) and Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara replacing Noomi Rapace).

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo immerses the reader into an unsolved 40 year old mystery behind the disappearance of a 16 year old teen Harriet Vanger in which her uncle, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires Blomkvist to find. Sadly this movie version surrounds the audience with more about Blomkvist and Salander than the mystery disappearance within this screenplay (by Steven Zaillian) giving off a horrid impression that the movie is about them. The way TGWTDT was filmed you would have thought Zaillian had studied the cliff note version of Stanley Kubrick's "guide to flipping a novel into a movie without the use of a script". This movie jumped around scene to scene like a hot Mexican jumping bean snagging bits and pieces thus smashing them together during the beginning to get the plot going which doesn't become fully understandable until half-way through the movie. And when it finally does slow down, it's too late realize the main focus isn't to the two main characters but the mystery of the missing Harriet and other women.


Plus if the rape scenes between Bjurman (Yorick Van Wageningen), Lisbeth's state appointed guardian, and Salander was meant to frighten or make the viewer feel a bit squeamish (or arouse SouthSide's kinky fetish side), it missed its mark. They played out like a very poorly made American porn - all fluff and no substance. There was no subtle seduction from Bjurman over the "vulnerable" Lisbeth forcing her to submit to his sick dominant and demented fantasies. And that anal rape scene looked more like forced vaginal from behind to this reviewer. That's when the other movie mistakes start popping into view. For example - the dragon tattoo's on the wrong body location ...and wasn't she suppose to tattoo the word "sadistic" on his chest too (to "I'm a rapist pig")? There were other noticeable mistakes running rampant throughout this Americanized version that it will have your heading spinning i.e. accent switching. This was The Prince of Persia Sands of Time all over again - when the accents switched from fake Swedish to British then American ...sometimes within the same scene! Daniel Craig was the biggest offender of this crime - in one minute when he went from Swedish to British to a combination of the two to American and generally stayed within that range for the rest of the movie. At least, Rooney Mara and Robin Wright (as Erica Berger, Blomkvist's lover and co-editor of Millennium) was able to stay in character with their accents.

Then, this version committed two major offenses which were never part of the book and the original Swedish film had this reviewer cringing in her seat during the screening. TWO HUGE mistakes that changed the outcome of the entire movie. All she can ask is WHY? Why change where Blomkvist finds the missing Harriet Vanger? Why have Salander REVEAL that one tiny secret about herself to Blomkvist? Also ...why change how Vanger Industries get controlling interest of Millennium magazine when it wasn't actually Martin and Henrik who approach Erica about the proposition ...why have Lisbeth visit and threaten Bjurman in the elevator when THAT doesn't really happen until the second book/film?!?! UGH! There are more mistakes however you would only recognize them if you have read the book and/or seen the Swedish version. *sighs* There's no point in making the sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, because you already borrowed material from both books to fill in the ending of the movie.

Not only did they let the slip of the tongue fly, but also changed Lisbeth from an enigma into an open book ...and, believe SouthSide, she's not suppose to be an open book. Lisbeth Salander is this generation's Alex DeLarge that presence and persona is totally lost and gone - she's written for this movie as to easily and readily trust Blomkvist which actually isn't the case. She trusts no one except herself throughout the books (and Swedish movies) allowing him just enough room for trust but on her terms. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth may have been good a replacement to Noomi Rapace however she's not that good. Rapace will always be Lisbeth Salander for this reviewer. She was the perfect size and height in what Larsson wrote in his books ...Mara looked like an out of place bisexual emo chick trying to be goth/industrial or is that vice versa - a goth bisexual chick trying to be industrial but looking so emo with her shaved eyebrows, piercings and horrible haircut. Her award nominations should go to Rapace instead. Meanwhile, Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist was a bad choice for the role since it was played like a stale but older James Bond-like character. He was too busy trying to be mysterious while looking so hot ...especially when not the ideal "bodily ugly (i.e. a little pudgy in the stomach) yet still sexually attractive to women to sleep with" type of person that was wonderfully portrayed by Michael Nyqvist and written by Larsson. Craig was looking too hot to be ugly even while sporting those tight black (tiny as heck) briefs during the movie.

Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails want you back as front man! Rock music composition is your style ...that's what you do best. However movie music composition - well, you need to take more lessons from the following masters - Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Eric Serra and Chris Carter. Your usage of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song - um, why? What purpose did it serve for this movie? As SouthSide sat there watching the opening title credits, all she could say was huh? The music composed did nothing to enhance and/or heighten the action or scene ...sometimes it was too loud and boisterous (like attending one of your shows but in THX surround sound). OR sometimes when there was suppose to be music, there was none to accentuate the scene at all. And you are recently quoted that your music for TGWTDT was going to have the audience humming when they leave the theatre or get under their skin. HA! The music composed did neither SouthSide's still scratching her head on why you deserve a Golden Globe nomination for music was - to simply put it - horrible. There was no suspense ...or drama to get this reviewer deeply involved with the scene in which it was used. Your practice of composing before actual shooting failed horribly for this particular movie. And speaking of the opening title sequence - WTF was that?! It looked like something a graphic design student would use as their application to get into Flashpoint Academy ...and it wasn't a very good either. It was hard to decipher what the sexually suggested black oil images were suppose to represent while listening to a horrid cover of Led Zeppelin's classic rock song.


SouthSide highly recommends reading Eva Gabrielsson's book There Are Things I Want You To Know About Stieg Larsson. It's a fantastic as well as an interesting read about Eva and Stieg, how the Millennium triology came to be, who is the real Lisbeth Salander and more. As far as the Americanized version of The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo - save your money ...wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray. If you must see it to see what the fuss is all about - bring some aspirin with you.

Until next time, support your local scene,

1 comment:

  1. Southside,

    To play Devil's advocate, I propose the following, dramatic license. I suppose that you would consider that "cherry picking" and that the original source materials (the books and films) were merely reference material and that this film was to be a re-imagining of it. It is a long tradition of Hollywood.



Thank you for your feedback - SouthSide