I went into this movie having not read the book, and also being slightly uninterested in seeing it. However, I knew there was immeasurable hype surround both the book and the movie, so I knew I needed to see it. I was excited to see what all the fuss was about and went in with an open mind.
The movie begins with what may seem like incredibly odd opening credits. As someone who knew nothing of the story and barely anything about the characters I was about to meet, the oddness had no context and so it didn't really work. As I left the movie, I remembered the opening and chuckled to myself because, even after knowing everything, it still seemed out of place. It may have worked better as part of the closing credits instead... who knows?
Rooney Mara was awesome. For me, she was absolutely the best part of the entire movie. I read somewhere that she is "the next Kristen Stewart" which is too cruel a comparison to be real. Rooney is much more dynamic, talented, genuine, and explosive as an actress than Stewart could ever hope to be, but the hype that statement was meant to express is true. Rooney certainly proved that she should be the next big thing.
I also enjoyed Daniel Craig in this movie. He portrayed Blomkvist as likable and down-to-Earth. He was another part of the movie I really liked, which helped pull me through some of the stuff I did not. However, I did not enjoy a lot of the movie and all the reasons have to do with the choices Fincher made as the director, not the story itself or the acting. The film was uneven, unbalanced, and I felt a lot of it was choppy. For viewers who have read the books, it may seem different to you because you know what's coming and you know all the stuff that was left out, therefore, it may flow more easily for you. But for a viewer who has not read the books, not only did the story not flow, but the big reveal of the mystery and events stemming from that seemed anti-climactic.
Basically, the rest of the film never lived up to the intensity of the rape scene, which happened in the first 30 minutes, was exposition, and had hardly anything to do with the main story line. I feel like Fincher paid too much attention to that scene and less to others he should have highlighted. That scene was so powerful, so meticulous, and so obviously choreographed to the finest detail/camera angle/sound effect that it made me wonder why Fincher didn't spend that amount of effort on other, much more important events in the story.
I wanted the rest of the movie to be that meticulous. I wanted the film to show me that amount of intensity and focus, but no other scene ever really did that. When the most fierce scene has already happened in the first 30 minutes, the rest of the movie doesn't pack a punch. Many people have said to me "Well, the rape scene is that intense because it's like the book" but my issue is not about being faithful to the book. My issue is that the way Fincher dealt with that scene is what made the rest of the movie unbalanced, in my opinion. Why spend so much time highlighting a piece of exposition, then later skimming over actual important plot points and events?
It raised questions in my mind of what Fincher was thinking when he was editing and why he didn't think to allude to more and show less of the rape scene, so that later he'd have time to pay more attention to things that mattered more to the story. The same things could have been achieved for Lisbeth's character had he edited that scene down; I am not saying it should have been cut altogether.
OR if the climactic moment of this movie had been done with as much care as the rape scene, I probably would have no issue with it at all. I would have felt that the ending was satisfying and the movie more balanced. Either way, in order to fix this problem, one of the two things I've mentioned needs to have been changed.
Overall, I would say that there was too much hype around this movie and not enough delivery. I think if I had read the book I may have enjoyed it more, but as a neutral viewer, the story fell flat with the way Fincher presented it. If you love the book, see it! If you like action mysteries, you may enjoy this movie. If you are neutral and don't care one way or another, don't waste your time. If you can't handle rape scenes, run far, far, far away.