Dragon Tattoo Looks Good, Lacks Depth

Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara star in David Fincher's adaptation
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2011 11:21 AM CST

(Newser) – David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a mostly faithful retelling of Stieg Larsson's novel: A young hacker and a journalist team up to solve the mystery of a girl's disappearance. The film is visually impressive, and Rooney Mara is compelling—but the movie as a whole isn't particularly profound.

  • In Slate, Dana Stevens calls the film an "insurmountable ziggurat of featureless prose, a run-of-the-mill serial-killer whodunit spiked with generous doses of nasty sexual violence." Sure, "Fincher is a master of mood and atmosphere, but this chilly, efficient movie never transcends the shallowness of its source material."

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  • Peter Travers sees the film as a "letdown"—"a faithful adaptation that brings the dazzle but shortchanges on the daring." It may be "gloriously rendered," but it's "too impersonal to leave a mark." Still, "Mara is astonishing," he writes in Rolling Stone.
  • "There are waves of brilliantly orchestrated anxiety and confusion but also long stretches of drab, hackneyed exposition that flatten the atmosphere," notes AO Scott in the New York Times. "We might be watching Cold Case or Criminal Minds, but with better sound design and more expressive visual techniques."
  • The New Yorker is less down on the film (though the review itself sparked controversy). David Denby calls the movie "a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it offers a glancing, chilled view of a world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of betrayal."
(Read more The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo stories.)

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