Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Friday, December 23, 2011

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Darkest Hour

Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgaard, Christopher Plummer

Henrik Vanger (Plummer) has been dealing with the unsolved disappearance of his niece Harriet for the past forty years. He is determined that one of his many corrupt family members has something to do with the disappearance. Every year he receives a framed flower on his birthday which is a tradition that started with Harriet and still continues even after she vanished. Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is a journalist with Millennium magazine. He has recently lost a huge libel case against the Wennerström Corporation. Knowing that Blomkvist unjustly lost the case, Vanger hires Blomkvist to research the disappearance and help solve the forty year mystery.

Blomkvist is skeptical about taking the assignment as he doesn't think he'll find anything new about the case that the police and Vanger haven't already discovered. Vanger promises him a hefty salary for the research and vows to quadruple it if he solves the case. Vanger also entices Blomkvist with information on Wennerstrom that could be very useful. With some hesitation, he agrees and moves up to Hedeby Island in Hedestad where the Vanger's live. Vanger has boxes upon boxes of photographs, police reports, and newspaper clippings regarding Harriet's disappearance and the car accident that also took place around the same time she disappeared. Blomkvist digs deep into the corrupt Vanger family history, the accident, and a parade Harriet attended. Blomkvist asks for a research assistant as he believes he is gaining momentum on what happened. Vanger hires expert computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara). To many people, Salander is mentally unstable, crazy, and violent. She spent many years in child custody shuffled between guardians. She has many piercings, tattoos, and wears goth clothing. Salander did the background research on Blomkvist before Vanger hired him. Salander and Blomkvist form a tight union as they realize this case is far more than just the disappearance of a teenage girl.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
is the second adaptation of the Stieg Larsson novel. The Swedish version was released in 2009 to a successful following. David Fincher has succeeded at making his version faithful to the novel while still making it his own and not feeling like a knock-off of the Swedish version. Fincher is no stranger to dark mysteries that involve very heavy material. He does not feel the need to sugar coat the material or gloss over it. Be warned there is a very graphic rape scene. He is meticulous for detail. You know every prop, costume piece, tattoo, piercing, sound choice, and location has been chosen with a specific reason. The viewer can feel the cold bitter Swedish air which only thickens the mood of the movie even more. Fincher received some hesitation for casting Mara over bigger names like Scarlet Johansson and Carey Mulligan. Mara is a revelation as Salander. Salander is no easy character. Mara gives a strong performance in a subtle way that shows the numerous complexities Salander chooses to display. Craig also delivers as Blomkvist. You can't help but feel his sex appeal again but in a different way than James Bond. Regardless of if you have read the book or not, you will get sucked in and see why this Stieg Larsson story is so popular. Once again, Fincher has made one of the best movies of the year.

RATING: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Director: Chris Gorak
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella

Sometimes when you see a trailer that looks bad but has an actor in it that you like, you try to trust the actor for choosing that project. I like Emile Hirsch and really thought that maybe the trailer just didn't do the movie justice. I had the opportunity to go see The Darkest Hour and decided to put this theory to test. In this case, the movie was just as bad as the trailer. I don't know what Emile Hirsch was thinking when he signed on for this horrible sci-fi story about an end of the world style destruction by energy forces. I can't even justify thinking that maybe it was a good script that turned out to be a bad movie, which happens from time to time. Actors say they read a good script, but the movie didn't turn out the way it was envisioned. This script is just awful. You can hear the horrible lines of dialogue. You can tell Hirsch knows this. He tries to say the bad dialogue in a subtle way so it doesn't come off as melodramatic and awful. The characters are stupid stupid stupid. Between the tough cocky guy who gets killed off early and the crazy paranoid scientist you can't help but laugh. End of the world movies are tricky. You end up having four or five survivors walking around a deserted land. You have to keep the pace moving as there is nothing but them walking around looking for other survivors and looking for answers. Even if you get to see it for free, don't waste your time. Use your time wisely and spend money on any of the excellent movies that are playing at the theater.

RATING: 1/2* (Half star out of 5 stars)

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  1. So, does The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo make your top 20?

  2. Thanks for reading! It is too new to make my all-time top 20, but I would definitely put it in my top 5 of the year.

  3. Your review for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is spot on. I loved this movie. My favorite of the year. Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were perfect for their roles and couldn't have done a better job in portraying these characters. I thought Skarsgaard and Plummer were great too. I'd like to see it and them win some awards. Two thumbs way up!!!

  4. Cathy- Glad you enjoyed it. I think Plummer will get a nomination for a movie he did this summer called "Beginners". It was wonderful. I posted a review of it then. Ewan McGregor is in it as well.