Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger
Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger
Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

Synopsis: Blomkvist is a journalist convicted of libel who ends up in northern Sweden, and begins working on two pieces: a chronicle of the Vanger family (the cover story in case anyone is not happy about his true purpose), and the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger in the mid-60s. He starts to piece together some information that wasn’t part of the initial investigation, and calls up a brilliant young woman with a dark past to help him finish his work; unfortunately for both of them, the deeper they get into the mystery, the more danger they experience.

I belong to an awesome book club that my AZ bestie started this year; we’re on Facebook (If Jane Austen Only Knew), so you can see how much fun we had with our get-together for TGWTDT. So we read the book, and because I’m a total nerd, I finished it really early and read it again, and got to break it down. I felt that the book had more in it than it needed; while the development of the background of the Wennerstrom case to create a deep Blomkvist character was necessary, I think there was way too much back story. It took away from the excitement of the mystery of the Harriet Vanger disappearance.

Because of that, I actually liked the movie better than the book, and that rarely, if ever, happens. It dives right in to the Vanger story, skimming the surface of the Wennerstrom case and making Salander more sympathetic. It does stay true to the story up until the very end, which I can see how the major change was necessary to keep this from becoming an overlong, unenjoyable film.

I loved the cast. Everyone played their parts so vibrantly that you could believe they were their characters in real life. Even Mr. Craig, who couldn’t lose the British accent for his role as a Swede, was wonderful. Christopher Plummer is still as strong an actor as ever, and Stellan Skarsgard is a brilliant crazy person. However, I don’t think that anyone can dispute that Rooney Mara stole the show as Salander, not only in physical appearance, but with her mannerisms and interactions with the other characters as well. Such a good role; she deserved the nomination for the Best Actress Oscar ®.

What else?

• The soundtrack. Trent Reznor deserved the Oscar ® for The Social Network, and he delivered another gem here. The rendition of Immigrant Song during the opening credits was brilliant.

• Location, location, location. Absolutely fantastic. The bleak, harsh winter in Hedestad was shot so well, I had to wrap up in blankets while I watched. The constant whistling of the wind chilled me to the bone. I loved the “cottage” where Blomkvist holes up as well; it felt so authentic that I want to go here and see it in person. (Clearly I’m a travel nut.)

Good scenes?

1. Lisbeth takes care of her second advocate. What a badass. No one would ever mess with a woman like that and get away with it. She’s so matter-of-fact about how she dispatches him, so calm, so level-headed, it’s no wonder she’s got that kind of paper trail with the state. Men should watch this and think twice about ever taking advantage of a woman. We’re nasty when provoked.

2. Salander and Blomkvist connect the dots; rather Salander fills him in on everything she’s found. Again, so matter-of-fact that you question her sanity. Horrifying, but very well done.

3. Blomkvist first meets Henrik Vanger. I love how quickly the movie gets to the point. Such an interesting story!

If you have a strong stomach, you’ve got to see this. Normally I recommend that people read the book first, but it was so dry at both ends that I think you’d be fine just watching this. I haven’t seen the Swedish version yet, but this is pretty darn good.

Weepy Meter: 0/10 I didn’t even cry. Too disturbing.

Man Meter: 6/10 There’s plenty of violence, and a little sex, so it could work. The intrigue will probably do it if those two options don’t. Great story.

Overall Rating: 8/10 It’s violent and graphic, but so well done that it’s one of my favorite movies of the last few years. Again, if you can handle these two descriptors, you’ll really like it.


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