David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is better-crafted than the Swedish adaptation
There’s no doubt that the new version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which opened Tuesday, Dec. 20, is a better-crafted film than the Swedish adaptation of Steig Larsson’s book that came out just two years ago. Director David Fincher is deservedly regarded as one of the best directors working today, whereas you probably can’t even name the guy who crafted the Swedish one. Fincher’s new edition, which stars Rooney Mara as psychologically damaged hacker Lisbeth Salander, is a far slicker, sleeker affair than its counterpart, but it’s hard to imagine that what the world needs now is another The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Once again, Lisbeth and disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played here by Daniel Craig) are trying to solve a 20year-old murder, which leads them to a serial killer who’s been preying on young women across Sweden for decades. It’s a complex, convoluted story, well adapted by Steve Zaillian, but one that didn’t interest me as much as Fincher’s other serial-killer movies, Zodiac or Se7en.
Mara is great as Lisbeth, a pierced and tattooed outsider who wears her scars everywhere, inside and out, but I found myself fading out whenever she wasn’t on the screen. Although Lisbeth’s story becomes intertwined with Mikael’s, I was always far more interested in her than in the movie’s whodunit. Perhaps that’s because I’d seen the Swedish version; perhaps it’s because it seemed far more obvious in this version. Or maybe it’s because serial killers, less frequent in rural Sweden, are omnipresent in the American cultural oeuvre, easy to find during prime time on any cop and/or lawyer show, any night of the week.
Fans of the book who haven’t seen the Swedish version will likely find Fincher’s edition well-written, well-crafted and well-acted. But is it necessary? That’s a mystery that will likely remain unsolved.
Now PlayingSherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: The sequel is certainly entertaining, as Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) take on the detective’s legendary enemy, Professor Moriarty. But there’s really no mystery to solve.I Won’t Last a Day Without You: The Filipino film series at Horton Plaza continues with this romantic comedy.Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: Squeaky clean.Young Adult: Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody reteams with director Jason Reitman for this story about a former homecoming queen (Charlize Theron) who returns to her small hometown in Minnesota after a divorce and a mental breakdown of sorts, intending to steal her high-school beau (Patrick Wilson) away from his wife and family.Machine Gun Preacher: Gerard Butler plays Sam Childers, a real-life former drug dealer who, after finding religion, led armed incursions into dangerous parts of Sudan to rescue conscripted child soldiers. The movie, which played San Diego previously, re-opens at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp. New Year’s Eve: Famous people like Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro and Ashton Kutcher get drunk and make out at midnight. Shame: Michael Fassbender bares body and soul as a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s NC-17 drama. It’s graphic, emotionally and sexually, but it’s also well-made.The Sitter: Jonah Hill is the college kid suckered into taking care of children who live next door to him. The Women on the 6th Floor: A pair of Spanish maids make mischief in the house of a conservative couple in Paris in the 1960s. Ends Dec. 22 at the Ken Cinema.Alaska: Sarah Palin does not appear in this IMAX film, which runs Fridays through December at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.Mystery of the Nile: It ain’t just a river in Egypt. It’s also an IMAX film running Fridays through December at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.Arthur Christmas: A 3-D animated flick about Santa’s youngest son, who uses Santa’s high-tech operation to complete a crucial mission on Christmas night. Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.The Muppets: Jason Segal reboots the franchise. It’s time to play the music and light the lights one more time.My Week with Marilyn: Eddie Redmayne is Colin Clark, an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who has to manage his boss’ relationship with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during a production of The Prince and the Showgirl.The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s first film since Sideways is more straightforward than his previous work, but just as rewarding. George Clooney’s terrific as Matt King, a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife’s injured in an accident.Santa vs. The Snowman: Family-oriented steel-cage match plays the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: You know how Bella and Edward spent the last three movies not getting it on? Well, now they do. Immortals: Zeus chooses Thesus (played by Henry Cavill, the next Superman) to take on Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) in a film by Tarsem Singh, who made The Cell. J. Edgar: Leonardo DiCaprio is the longtime head of the FBI in Clint Eastwood’s biopic. DiCaprio’s pretty good, but the film treats Hoover with kid gloves. Jack and Jill: As if one Adam Sandler weren’t enough, here he plays a nice guy and the nice guy’s annoying twin sister.Like Crazy: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are a couple drawn to each other for years, even though her visa situation keeps her in England, while he lives in L.A. Ends Dec. 22 at La Jolla Village and Hillcrest cinemas.Margin Call: Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and a slew of high-profile talents play the 1-percenters on the eve of the financial meltdown. Ends Dec. 22 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.The Skin I Live In: Antonio Banderas stars in Pedro Almodovar’s drama as a plastic surgeon desperate to create a synthetic skin for his wife, who was badly burned years ago. Thing is, he needs a human subject, and he’d rather try it out on someone else before he tries it out on her. Ends Dec. 22 at Hillcrest Cinemas. The Way: Emilio Estevez directed his dad, Martin Sheen, in this film about a father who heads to Europe to try to recover the body of his estranged son. The Ides of March: George Clooney, who’s always worn his politics on his sleeve, directs and stars in his latest film, about the death of idealism in a young political consultant played by Ryan Gosling. It’s well-made, but not as important as it thinks it is. Under the Sea: Go underwater and see some of the planet’s most gorgeous ecosystems, before it’s too late, since we’re gradually destroying pretty much everything. Screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.Moneyball: Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s who shook up baseball by reinventing the way players are valued. Sounds like dry stuff, but the last time someone adapted a Michael Lewis sports-business book for the big screen was The Blind Side, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar.Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen’s most charming film in years stars Owen Wilson as a Jazz Age-infatuated screenwriter and aspiring novelist who ends up hanging with the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.Born to be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it’s narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.