Remaking The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

bill bodkin looks at whether hollywood should remake the international phenomenon into an american release…

Earlier this year Entertainment Weekly dubbed Stieg Larsson’s crime thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo “the hottest book on the planet.”

The book is one of three unpublished novels (known as The Millennium Trilogy) that the late Larsson left behind. After its publication, the trilogy, as for August 2010, has sold over 40 million copies worldwide and 10 million in the US alone — helping publishing giant Random House to one of it’s best years in quite some time.

This literary juggernaut, which revolves around woman-on-the-edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown cyberpunk hacker heroin Lisbeth Salander, was the stuff film producers salivate over. A tough heroin thrown into the type of film noir plot line that put the likes of Bogey and Bacall into the cinematic canon. It’s edgy, it’s intense and it’s about female empowerment, it’s idealistic, it’s sexy, it’s white knuckle and it’s very smart.

The films, produced by Yellow Bird Studios, have done decently at American box office (event in limited release), while doing barn-burning business internationally. The US DVD rentals, fueled by the megaton popularity of the books, has finally caught the eye of Hollywood and they’re producing the remake of the 2009 version of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.

So my question is…should it be remade?

As someone who just watched the original, I think that it’s a 50/50 proposition.

Remakes in Hollywood have been around forever. We’ll be closing out 2010 with a remake of the John Wayne classic True Grit. It seems every year, for good or bad remakes of classic and sometimes not-so classic films are released.

However in this case, it’s a little different.

The Swedish films of the Millennium Trilogy were just released within the past two years — and they’ve all three been released, theatrically and on DVD, in the US this year. There’s even talk of Noomi Rapace being nominated for an Oscar for her role as the lead character Lisbeth. In short, this film is going to be on the collective cinematic mind in the near future.

And if one can surmise, it’s safe to say that the American remake, which is currently filming, will be released sometime next year, probably by Christmastime.

To me, that’s too much, too soon.

From what I’ve read, the film looks to be a straight remake with the characters returning (minus one or two) and it’s also being filmed in Sweden, the home country of the original films.

I know we want to be honest to the book and original films, but that just seems a little too straightforward.

Another problem with a straight remake of this is that the characters are so iconic. Rapace, who may forever be known as Lisbeth Salander, gave a character defining performance. She is Lisbeth. It’s like remaking The Matrix and replacing Keanu Reeves. He will always be Neo, even when he’s 70. It’ll be the role he’s remembered for.

Yet there is a sliver of silver lining in this black cloud of cinema — the new cast and crew feature logically chosen, super strong actors and a brilliant director. one of the best — and it actually makes perfect sense. At the helm will be David Fincher (Seven, Social Network) — who better to delve into the trilogy’s dark subject matter (Nazism, rape, mass murder — you know cheerful stuff) than him. No one thought he’d make an amazing film about Facebook…and he just did. He has the style, intelligence and panache to pull this off.

As for the actors, Social Network’s Rooney Mara will take over for Raspace while Daniel Craig takes over as the altruistic journalist Mikael. Both Mara and Craig are strong actors who can not only handle these seminal roles, but they actually are similar in looks to the original Swedish actors, which is kinda crazy. I knew this going into viewing Tattoo and I think whoever cast this film should get a raise immediately. It’s near perfect.

So, the question remains, is this remake worth it? Will fans of the movie who already know the plot being willing to pay money at the box office to see a film they’ve already enjoyed? Will they be able to recreate the magic of the original film while still putting their own stamp of creativity on it? We will have to wait and see.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites