Monday, April 9, 2012

A Frank Review of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011)

The Short Version? Men Who Hate Women
What Is It? Thriller
Who Is In It? James Bond, Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp, the Princess Bride, Alex Skarsgård's dad, the Exorcist, Warlock
Should I See It? Maybe

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was produced by an award-winning creative team that includes the screenwriter of Schindler's List and the director of Seven, all based on the international best-selling series of novels that got a Swede racked at Wall*Mart. The acting is strong, with an exceptional turn by the previously unknown Rooney Mara as the otherworldly Lisbeth Salander. Jeff Cronenweth's cinematography demands the attention of the audience's eyes, the score by Trent Reznor is potent, and the credit sequence is fascinating.

It's a fucking cartoon.

Mikael Blomkvist has pussy flying at him, but have you seen Daniel Craig? Someone somewhere thinks he's handsome, I guess, but I don't know those women. Guy's face looks like a clenched sphincter. I don't think the dude who edits your local left-wing newspaper is a hit at the clubs either, especially if he's broke from losing a libel lawsuit. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander is crazy and violent, but despite trying her best to look like a punk rock Ziggy Stardust thirty years late (because of it?) everybody notices and wishes to have crazy violent non-consensual relations with her. We get to see that happen, because this is one of those Japanese cartoons, or a '70s rape-revenge exploitation flick, except with way too much money invested.

The two lead characters don't even meet in the first (second?) act. They just go through episodes in a parallel, connected narrative. When they do finally get together, it's to investigate a decades old Father Dowling Mystery with the modest CSI twist of shoving Biblical crap up fifties girls coochies. Aside from all the gross, creepy elements, it's kind of a quaint, Agatha Christie, locked island whodunit. By the way, spoiler, the guy you think did it totally did it, except the part he didn't. Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Max von Sydow, Stellan Skarsgård, and Robin Wright are people you've heard of that are in this movie, with Plummer being the most noteworthy.

You can tell this is an adaptation, because there are oodles of characters and plot elements introduced without being properly developed, and the economics of storytelling dictate their relevancy, so there's a good chance you'll figure the whole damned this out an hour before the investigators (unless you apply too much logic, because the resolution requires for a moronic development where a character leads the dicks in a direction they never should have been allowed near.) The movie is too long, especially since most of the fun stuff is front-loaded, and things degenerate to ridiculous extremes of perversion and hobby room decor by the fourth act. Yes indeed, you did read that right. Everything comes to a head an act after it should conventionally, and then there's a fifth act where Lisbeth Salander breaks into a prison, tortures Bernie Madoff to death, then hacks Bin Laden's internet carrier to guide SEAL Team Six to ultimate victory. The movie ends on a dour note though, when Lex Luthor weakens Salander with kryptonite and traps her in the Bottle City of Kandor with Frodo and Samwise.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a solid enough movie if you're hankering for Murder, She Wrote mashed-up with super-heroine torture porn, but don't try to tell me this was more than a mass of talented people putting great artistic effort into cashing phat residual checks.

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