Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Boy Who Didn't Like This Movie

Before I sat down in the theater last night to watch this movie, I knew only two things about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: The title, and that for the past two years or so I haven't been able to go anywhere without seeing somebody reading one of the novels. I saw the trailer once when it first come out months ago, and thought it was pretty neat but incomprehensible, but I'm a big fan of Daniel Craig (even since before he was James Bond!) and my friend wanted to see it, so I figured I'd check it out. After all, all those millions of people who read the books and saw the original Swedish films couldn't be wrong, right?

Wrong. Turns out, this movie was horrible.

I don't mean to say The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a bad movie, since the story was interesting and well plotted, the cast was exceptional, the cinematography was gorgeous, the score was wonderful, and the entire production undoubtedly turned out exactly as the filmmakers intended. All I'm saying is that those filmmakers intended to make a horrible film, that I'm assuming was based upon a horrible book. I haven't read the book so I can't really speak to whether or not it was as horrible as this film, but I'll never know since I'll never read it. I'll also never see this film again, and I'm hoping that after I finish this review I'll never even have to think about it again.

This was ostensibly a mystery story, although any fan of the genre will have figured out the major twists and revelations almost immediately upon learning what the actual mystery is. I won't spoil anything, but it was very predictable, albeit interesting and well done. I described it as "ostensibly a mystery story," since it took a long time for that plot to get going, spending way too much time setting the mood and personality of the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, who I will charitably refer to as an anti-hero. If I decided not to be charitable, I would simply say she was one of the most reprehensible, unlikable, and downright awful characters I've ever seen presented as a heroine in a major motion picture. This woman was a sociopath who should've been locked up in an institution, not presented as some kind of hero.

The rest of the characters didn't fair much better, since everybody seemed to be rude to everybody else, except for the people with whom they were having sex, but sometimes also both. Daniel Craig, our other hero, is shown to be a not that nice guy too, since he cheated on his wife, then goes ahead and cheats on his mistress too. Daniel Craig, at least, is a wonderful, charming actor who has the talent and ability to create a likeable, interesting character out of this mess of a story. (But I never managed to figure out why he was the only person in this movie who didn't speak in a Swedish accent, but whatever.) I have no idea what Rooney Mara was doing, but I didn't like it. She spent the entire movie looking and acting like a ghoul. She didn't act so much as just stand there sucking energy out of the room.

Then there was the the rape scene, and all that other nonsense that director David Fincher loves to put into his films. This was a film for the people who saw his earlier film Se7en and came away from it thinking, "You know, there wasn't enough rape..." I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying this movie contains one of the most brutal and off-putting rape scenes in movie history, but I also don't care since I wish somebody had spoiled it for me. Here's the thing: I don't need to watch people getting raped and I don't want to watch people raped. This kind of crime certainly has a place in both literary and cinematic fiction, but this scene was so graphic and so disturbing, and yet served no real purpose that I could understand. I think there was a brutal rape scene just for the sake of having a rape scene, and then for the sake of having a scene where the girl basically rapes the man who raped her. None of this came into play again, nor did it ever tie in with the main story or serve any logical purpose within the context of the film. It was just horrible, and it took a film that would've just been kind of boring and bland and made me hate it.

I think maybe these rape scenes were in the film (and make no mistake: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo raped and tortured that man, making her just as villainous and disgusting as he was) were to create the illusion of a world where everybody is a sexual predator and where everybody is capable of horrible things. Or maybe director David Fincher and author Stieg Larsson are just creepy, weird perverts.

The mystery elements of the story were a lot better, at least the parts following Daniel Craig as he attempts to research and solve a murder from 40 years in the past. One the Girl shows up as his research assistant, it gets kind of dumb and loses focus, since her computer hacking and research skills border on the supernatural. This is one of those movies where there is nothing a hacker isn't able to do or find out just by typing a couple keystrokes on her macbook. She even manages to hack into a steal account and password numbers from a few dozen Swiss bank accounts, which raises the question of why she even has a job in the first place. Oh, and then the slow-paced, dialogue-driven mystery story culminates in a ridiculously over the top motorcycle chase scene.

Except that didn't actually "culminate" anything, since the film went on for another half hour or so even after the mystery was solved and any interest any audience member could've possibly had in the film vanished. Seriously, did anybody who saw this film not think it could've ended twenty minutes sooner?

But don't take my word for it, since everybody who read the books and saw the original films loved them all. I didn't think it was a bad film, I just kind of hated it. I found it incredibly disturbing, but it never earned the right or proved to me that it served any purpose at all. I didn't like the characters and I found the entire world-view presented to be so nihilistic and depressing and cold that it bored on the ridiculous. In other words, it's your typical David Fincher film.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

I think my mom read the book and didn't care for it. Or saw the Swedish film. Can't remember. All I know is that I don't personally know anybody who is a fan.

Mugato said...

The Swedish film was OK. I have no desire to see this one. The girl from the Swedish film was a surprisingly good actress, while the girl in the American one just seems gross.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I saw it yesterday and we thought it was a horrible film. The brutality was over the top and I couldn't help but think that there are people out there that will actually get off on those scenes. I guessed both major plot twists, so there were no surprises in the film. But what really stood out for us was the fact that the main character was so destitute that she had to perform sex acts to get money, yet she was able to hack into computers, obtain fake passports, siphon millions from accounts, etc. Huh?