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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director David Fincher's film adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" earned solid early reviews on Tuesday following its London premiere, and the studio behind it pushed up the release in a crowded holiday season.
Columbia Pictures said the U.S. opening now will take place on December 20, one day ahead of its previous announced debut. The shift should please fans of the movie based on a series of popular books by Swedish author Stieg Larsson telling about a journalist and a sexually abused computer hacker who band together in search of a killer.
Early reviews of Fincher's widely-anticipated "Dragon Tattoo," which follows a Swedish film version of the film and stars Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, were generally positive with critics especially praising Mara's performance.
New Yorker magazine's David Denby called the movie, "a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking" and said it was "Mara's shot at stardom."
Justin Chang at showbusiness newspaper Variety said Fincher's adaptation "a considerably slicker and more sophisticated piece of film craft than the Swedish production," and praised "the hypnotic presence of Mara, who fearlessly steps into a role made iconic by Swedish thesp Noomi Rapace and proves more than equal to the challenge."
While most critics were impressed by Mara's transformation into troubled punkish hacker Lisbeth Salander, some felt Fincher came up a little short with his story-telling.
Todd McCarthy at another showbiz publication, The Hollywood Reporter, called Mara's performance "bewitching" but was disappointed with Fincher's direction for not pushing the film deeper and darker, calling it "too neatly wrapped up, too fastidious to get under your skin and stay there."
Robbie Collin at Britain's The Telegraph gave the film three out of five stars, praising Mara and calling the film a "success in its own terms." But Collins felt "Dragon Tattoo" was overshadowed by Fincher's earlier films, saying "it's easy to see why the director wanted to make it, but hard to shake the feeling that perhaps he shouldn't have bothered."
Fincher earned wide praise last year for his Facebook movie, "The Social Network," and he has directed other acclaimed films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Panic Room."
"Dragon Tattoo" is the first of Larsson's best-selling Millennium trilogy of books, which has sold more than 60 million copies in 48 countries worldwide.
The 2010 Swedish adaptation of "Dragon Tattoo," starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, earned $104 million at the global box office, leading critics to believe that the success of Fincher's version will follow suit.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte