The Girl with the Dragon TattooDirector: David Fincher, Columbia Pictures, Rated MA, 158 mins
This remarkable English language remake of Stieg Larsson’s best selling Swedish novel by British award winning director David Fincher (The Social Network) is both stylish and thrilling with some different strengths but essentially retaining the menacing mood and the same characters and storyline.
In particular it has cast Rooney Mara (also from the The Social Network) in the lead role as the enigmatic heroine Lisbeth Salander who delivers an exceptional performance as the dragon-tattooed, pierced, punk computer hacker that was memorably performed by Swedish star Noomi Rapace in the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy.
Similar to the original, Lisbeth is asked to assist journalist Mikael Blomkvist (effectively portrayed by Daniel Craig from Cowboys and Aliens) in his investigation of the 40-year disappearance of the niece of retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Beginners’ Christopher Plummer) and together uncover massive corruption including an unimaginable series of murders.
Having seen the original version it would be unfair to suggest that Fincher’s English remake is better but it certainly compares more than favourably due to its more polished rendition.
At the same time the Swedish version was far more graphic, with a raw intensity about it that was complemented by Noomi Rapace’s near perfect performance.
Even though Fincher’s enjoyable movie is almost three hours long it does not detract from some great action scenes and a superb international cast that also includes Joely Richardson as the long lost niece Anita and Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger.
Depending on the success of his version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it remains to be seen if Fincher will proceed with the second part of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4½ Rubber Stamps
War HorseDirector: Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks, Rated M, 146 mins
Steven Spielberg (Cowboys and Aliens) demonstrates once again what an extraordinary director he is with his stirring story of a remarkable horse that is forcibly removed from the care of a young boy when the war begins.
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s inspiring novel War Horse, Spielberg sets his epic adventure against the background of the first World War beginning with Albert (Jeremy Irvine) developing a close relationship with a horse he names Joey having been purchased by his poor father Ted (Peter Mullan - Tyrannosaur) to plough their vegetable field against the wishes of his mother Rose (Emily Watson - Oranges and Sunshine).
Due to their serious debt situation Ted sells Joey to the British cavalry, coming under the charge of Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) who takes him to the war front in France to face the German cavalry.
Joey then experiences the brutality of war through his journey, forming a brief bond with various German and French owners along the way - each afflicted in different ways by the conflict - and unaware that over the passage of time, Albert is now serving with the British army in the hope of finding his precious horse.
In many respects Spielberg’s enthralling epic is a tribute to the countless millions of horses killed during the four years of World War 1, showing their courage against the most difficult circumstances as seen through the eyes of his War Horse.A particularly poignant scene depicts Joey galloping through the trenches and hopelessly caught up in barbed wire. Beautifully filmed by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (of Saving Private Ryan fame) it is also an emotion-charged story of an enduring friendship between Albert and Joey that really tugs at the heart strings.
Except for Irvine’s powerful performance as Albert and despite its length of some 146 minutes, the real star in Spielberg’s magnificent movie is certainly War Horse.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
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