Popular book series transitions perfectly to Hollywood screen

Director David Fincher follows up 2010’s “The Social Network” with another great piece of filmmaking in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” the first installment in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium series,” a trilogy of crime novels that have garnered international stardom.

Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”) stars as Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker and researcher who has led a difficult life exacerbated by the fact that the state has deemed her unfit to live independently and therefore has lived under a guardian for most of her life.

Mikael Blomkvist, the other lead in the story, is played by Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale,” “Cowboys & Aliens”).

Blomkvist is an investigative journalist for Millennium magazine and is also its co-owner.

After a libel case nearly plunges Millennium into bankruptcy, Blomkvist is hired by a retired, yet wealthy businessman named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a girl who has been missing for 40 years.

After struggling to crack the mystery, he recruits the services of Salander to help him solve the mystery.

Perhaps one of the most interesting side notes with Fincher’s latest film is the fact that all three installments of the trilogy have already been made into Swedish films in 2009, with Swedish actress Noomi Rapace giving a powerhouse performance as Salander and Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist playing Blomkvist.

This has generated a lot of controversy from critics who question whether this film should have been remade.

However, Fincher’s skill in crafting edginess with suspense has been evident throughout his directorial career.

As a result, his version beats out (but only barely) the original Swedish version as the more polished film.

As much as Rapace surprised everybody with her performance, Mara has surprised many people as well.

It’s not that Mara couldn’t act, but playing the complex and rather dark role of Salander seemed like an odd cast choice for an actress who has that charming, girl-next-door mentality to her in past roles.

However, she pulls off playing Salander with utmost precision.

In fact, her drastic transformative role is one of the biggest viewing treats in this film.

Her strong and gripping performance has definitely earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards this year.

And she’ll probably win it, considering the fact that the Academy has a strong liking to actors who achieve physical transformations in unconventional roles.

Craig is solid in portraying Blomkvist. He delivers a heartier performance than Nyqvist did in the Swedish version.

Additionally, Craig has great onstage chemistry with Mara that is unmatched in the 2009 version.

Like any great Fincher movie, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” features thrilling suspenseful scenes with every little piece of dialogue or detail leading to some sort of clue of the impending mystery.

Although the dialogue and plot develops slowly in the beginning, it gains momentum with about half an hour in.

From there, this 150-minute plus movie starts to take flight and the viewer begins to immerse him/herself within Larsson’s world.

In terms of the violence, some people will find this film disturbing as well.

There are two graphic sexual assault scenes that actually drag on longer than you’d think.

The latter scene shows off just how brutal and barbaric Salander’s character is.

Although some will argue that this is excessive, the graphic violence depicted throughout the film has actual meaning within the story rather than it being just a gimmick.

With all the characteristics of a great movie, there’s little doubt for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to garner at least a couple of awards at this year’s Academy Awards show. Fincher does a great job in bringing an international sensation to Hollywood.

JACOB TARR

[email protected]gannon.edu