I've seen the Swedish version, and I've read the books, and this is a well done, fairly faithful adaptation--meaning it keeps all the nastiness of the original, even when the rape scenes are of marginal relevance in this story (spoiler alert: they become very, very relevant in the sequels). But ultimately the story is pretty engaging, even though I already knew what would happen. As for the title role, Rooney Mara does a fine job as Lisbeth Salander, although it's pretty damn hard to erase Noomi Rapace's performance from my mind. She'll always be who I think of when I think of Lisbeth.
A couple of side points I'd like to discuss rather than getting into the details of the movie. First, I have a bit of a bugaboo when a film uses English to replace the native language (in this case Swedish). I have no problem with that technique, but it does bug me when they speak English with a foreign accent to represent the foreign language. Just speak unaccented English, please! And worse yet--as they did in this movie--is when some actors speak with an accent and some don't. Now maybe this is because some of the actors are local Swedes, and that's their normal English speaking voice, but not knowing that I'm left in a quandary. Am I supposed to think the other Swedish characters would find their voice to be accented, or what? And the final annoying bit in this is when Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) tries to make a call on his cell phone and a recording gives him a 'cannot connect' message in both Swedish and English? Now the world of the movie does have the Swedish language in it, and I'm supposed to believe that all these Swedish characters just happen to prefer speaking English together? This probably doesn't bother other people as much as it bothers me, but it is what it is.
And for my final point, I will have to get slightly spoiler-y. See, I loved the Swedish movies and I don't really see the need for an American remake. But there is one element in the books that isn't in the movies and could make the American remakes worthwhile. At the end of the first book, when Lisbeth gets her, shall we say, 'windfall,' one of the things she gets with the money is a boob job. It's actually a point of emphasis in the book that Lisbeth has tiny boobs, and then in the sequels characters are frequently noticing that her boobs are bigger. I completely understand how this isn't really important to the story, and strict adherence to the books is not always the best idea. But boobs are two of my favorite things. So Rooney, if you want me to think of you rather than Noomi, get a boob job. David Fincher, if you want me to praise your film (or at least the sequels) as "better than the original," get Rooney a boob job. Or just fake it with prosthetic boobies, I don't really care.
Running Time: 158 minutes
My Total Minutes: 260,304