Passionate bookworms can be a protective bunch. Just behold their furious anger if a paperback-to-film adaptation's screenwriter changes even the slightest element of a beloved novel. And it's usually justified, since far too many Hollywood adaptations either abandon all of the source’s subtext or enhance the showier moments while forgetting about character developments. That’s why the staggering amounts of fans dedicated to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Series” are waiting with baited breath and sharpened knives for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, acclaimed director David Fincher’s much-ballyhooed repackaging of Larsson’s first “Millennium” entry (hitting theaters tomorrow, December 20).

Having sold 15 million copies in the United States alone, Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a pop culture phenomenon, so thankfully the impeccable Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) tackled the project with his signature, superlative talents. His first master-stroke was casting the relatively unknown Rooney Mara as the series’ iconic female badass, Lisbeth Salander, a troubled computer whiz who dresses like a Hot Topic regular and helps solve a 40-year-old murder mystery. In addition, Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs Of New York) retained the book’s graphically adult nature but also expanded upon characters’ complexities (namely Lisbeth) and sprinkled in sickly clever stylistic touches (the sounds of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” make a particularly grisly scene all the more disturbing).

Those 15 million owners of Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo can breathe easy: Not only is Fincher’s movie a worthy adaptation, it’s by all means the superior version, even better than the impressive 2009 Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace. Inspired by Fincher’s accomplishment, we’ve taken a look back at cinema’s history to salute The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s predecessors, a.k.a. 50 Movies That Are Better Than The Book.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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Tags: the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo, rooney-mara, daniel-craig, david-fincher, stephen-king, stanley-kubrick
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