I was wrong when I guessed that Hollywood’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t be as good as the original 2009 Swedish version. This movie is as good as the original. Some think it’s better. In general it’s difficult to say a remake is better than the original simply because we know what’s coming when we watch the remake. Not knowing what’s coming is part of what makes this movie so good to begin with. Once the surprise is gone, a little of the magic is worn off. After all, it’s a mystery.
Hollywood’s story line is very close to the original movie. Again, some people will say the rewrite is better. I saw few differences. None changed the basic story. The ends of the movies differ significantly but still manage to reach the same place. The 2009 end is more of a postscript after the mystery is solved. The end of the 2011 version is more of a short story, appended to the main story. The short story seemed an odd thing to add at the end of the movie. I preferred the briefer end of the 2009 film. The 2011 end also slightly alters the relationship between the two main characters from the original.
The story is complicated and requires some attention. Your involvement in following the story is another reason that makes the movie worth watching. The 2011 version has more dialogue and explanation. Perhaps it is a little easier to follow. But at the end of either movie, you will have figured out who’s on first and why.
The 2011 production values may be better than the 2009 version. More money usually means a better production. But I hate to say that because it would mean there is a flaw in the original. I don’t think there is one.
Ditto for the acting. You can decide which movie has the better acting. In the end, none of the actors in either movie get in the way of the story. Isn’t that what good acting is about? Both Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace (2009 version) make the Lisbeth Salander character come to life. This is crucial to both movies. I will say, Noomi has a better Swedish accent.
For those of you haven’t heard the story line by this time, here’s the short take. A disgraced investigative reporter, Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig), is hired by a very rich and connected industrialist to solve the 40-year-old case of his missing niece. Revolving around the industrialist are his fully dysfunctional family and business associates. Blomkvist is aided in the investigation by Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara). Lisbeth has enough reasons of her own to be dysfunctional. This intriguing character provides a very strong subplot which makes this story a cut above similar murder mysteries. Blomkvist and Salander follow separate, but still remotely connected, paths for the first half of the movie until they are joined together to find the last missing pieces.
There are several raw scenes in the movie. Many of us might not want to go to a movie to be reminded how ugly real life can be. The scenes are important to the movie. Without them, it would be a different, and not as good, movie.
The character of Lisbeth is treated slightly differently in each version. I feel the 2009 version has a better treatment. It keeps Lisbeth more distant from the society around her, including Blomkvist. That distance is a key element in her defense mechanism. The intelligence, loneliness, attitude and drive to survive are present in both versions. But her vulnerability seems truer in the 2009 version.
Both movies are very similar and very good. Go see one, the other, or both. And remember, this is a trilogy. There should be two more movies coming from Hollywood that expand on this movie. The story lines of both are equal to the first. If you can’t wait, try watching the Swedish versions now.