Awards voters have been waiting for it. One indiscreet critic was called out for leaking word on it. Still others wondered what the point was when the Swedish film version is readily available on Netflix streaming (last time we checked, anyway). But now the curtain has lifted and the movie has been seen. We're not looking to spoil it for you, but we know the casual movie fans who aren't aware of the books or earlier films have some questions. So before you duck out on Christmas dinner to go check it out, here's what you need to know about this girl and her tattoo...
1. Leave the Kids at Home: Director David Fincher has spoken of his desire to see an R-rated franchise for adults, and this definitely meets that definition. Like the Swedish film, it features brutal violence and sexual assault, but in addition, an adorable pet comes to great harm. Ironically, this makes a similar point as Steven Spielberg's War Horse—you can kill off any number of bad guys onscreen, but violence somehow seems worse when even one domesticated animal is in danger.
2. Don't Be Late: Get to the theater in plenty of time, or you'll miss Fincher's best opening credits since Se7en. Call it "James Bondage"—nude silhouettes, phoenixes and dragons float through large oozings of sticky, tar-like tattoo ink while Trent Reznor and Karen O's cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" attacks your eardrums.
3. It's a Spoken Smorgasbord: The movie is set in Sweden still, but everybody speaks accented English, save Daniel Craig, who seemingly can't be bothered. This is made doubly confusing when the lead characters actually travel to England, and their speech remains completely the same. The written word is another story: billboards, books and T-shirt logos appear in Swedish most of the time, but if you suddenly see one in English for no apparent reason, rest assured it's a plot point worth paying attention to.
4. There's an Enya Song on the Soundtrack: Seriously, there is. And it totally works. You'll have to trust us on that one.
5. Nonconformity Rules: No, we're not talking about Rooney Mara's tattoos, piercings and otherwise in-your-face appearance. This big-studio feature dares to take a stand even braver than that. Throughout the entire thing, its protagonists smoke and drink constantly...and the movie never punishes or scolds them for it! All this time we thought the Swedes were freedom-hating socialists. We're sorry.