Stockholm, Sweden: Mikael Blomkvist, investigative reporter for the Millenium magazine, is dragged to court by billionaire businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström on libel charges, crushed and drained for most of his life savings. Financial rescue comes in the shape of Henrik Vanger, who promise Blomkvist plenty of money and Wennerström’s head on a plate if he can solve the mystery of what happened to Vanger’s niece, Harriet, 36 years earlier. During his investigation, Blomkvist’ path cross with Lisbeth Salander, crazy ass bitch extraordinaire, who he quickly realize will become a priceless asset in the search for the truth about what really happened to Harriet Vagner.
Movies based on books make me skeptical. Peter Jackson did an amazing job with the Lord of the Rings movies, but many others have failed miserably when moving a story from paper to the silver screen. The only projects that tend to crash and burn more spectacularly are movies based on video games.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn’t director David Fincher first attempt at making a movie based on a book. His massive success Fight Club was based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, and this time he has taken on the first book in the Millennium series by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. In this novel-to-movie-adaption I have an ace up my sleeve: I never read the book. Neither did I see the Swedish movie adaption. So I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from the unbiased viewpoint of someone who has managed to stay clear of some of the most popular Scandinavian books this century.
Many directors would have made the movie as American as possible. Just look at what they are doing to the live action adaption of Akira: Everything will be moved from Neo-Tokyo to New Manhattan and the cast will be mostly white. What gives? Fincher, on the other hand has stayed true to the novel: The movie is filmed in Sweden and the actors have been instructed to speak with awkward Swedish accents. Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) sounds rather Finnish to me, though.
There is a lot of product placement in this movie, with Apple as usual being the dominant one. Anniken’s informed that Salander uses Apple products extensively in the books, but please – I’m pretty sure I saw Apple USB cables in the opening credits. EPSON has also paid the production company for some nice close ups of their printers and logo. Even more hilarious was the NIN t-shirt worn by one of Salander’s computer savvy friends. Didn’t you get paid for making the original soundtrack, Trent?1 It might have been Trent’s idea of a cameo, what do I know. I’m not saying product placement makes this a bad movie, but sometimes it just gets too obvious.
Fincher has a good attention to details. While doing some research, Salander digs through what I assume is her notes by typing SQL queries into the MySQL console. Humorous for me and probably a lot of other nerds since we often find ourselves using the same piece of software. A document-oriented database would probably have been a better choice of database for storing those semi-structured notes though. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, but if you’re going to try you might as well do it right.
But what about the movie, then? In my humble opinion it takes too long to get started and when it gets started it drags out. Forever. I actually thought the movie was about to end three times before it actually did. Anniken told me that the reason it dragged out was that it introduced some of the elements important for the next movie. I can appreciate that, but it still felt like it took forever – you’re not supposed to think “finally” when the end credits start to roll.
All that said, go see the movie. Be warned, though, the movie is not for the faint hearted. It’s rated R in the US and there’s a reason for that. Actually, I can think of several reasons. It might be that there’s an edited version for the US audience, because some of the scenes is certainly not approved by Concerned Women for America. Also, if you have, like me, not read the book nor seen the Swedish movie adaption, you should not go to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with someone who has. They’ll cringe in their seats when something is about to happen and unfortunately spoil some of the tension.