Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Who Played with Fire: Some Spoilers

Salander with her evil Guardian
I feel like I've discussed this series a lot with quite a few different movie geeks, and I haven't actually written a review of anything.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire are the first two films based on books in The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson.  The third Swedish film was just released in theaters here in the States (though I'll have to wait until Netflix gets it).  The first two movies are intense drama/thrillers with many murders and violence thrown in.  They're definitely some of the best story-telling to have come out recently.  Noomi Rapace plays Lisbeth Salander, a petite bad ass computer hacker who had an epically terrible childhood.  She's required to check in with a "Guardian" (kind of like a probation officer here in the States), and when her former Guardian has a stroke, she's stuck with a terrible guy who does unspeakable things to her (one of the most violent scenes on screen I've ever seen).  She does get her revenge, thankfully.  But you can't unring a bell.  So that's the understory.  The overarching story involves Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has been found guilty of libeling a megamogul.  Since he's heading for jail, he gets hired by a wealthy guy, Martin Vanger, to investigate a family mystery - the disappearance of his niece.  Salander and Blomkvist cross paths after she investigates him for Vanger before he hires him.  She hacks into Blomkvist's computer and watches as he tries to find the niece.  Eventually, she has to join him to try to find the truth.  Again, they find some unbearably disgusting facts from decades ago and the whole mystery does get solved, but man is it way out in left field.  At the end, Salander does her computer genius thing to prove that the megamogul actually did the things Blomkvist said he did, clearing him.  She steals a ton of the guy's money -secretly of course.  And this leads us to the next film.  Brilliant first entry - amazing acting by Rapace, and terrific thriller action sequences.  Once I got around the extremely violent scene, it's a wonderful movie all around.  5 of 5 stars/lambs

Blomkvist coming to the rescue, but Salander has it in hand
In The Girl Who Played with Fire Blomkvist is back at his magazine and a fellow journalist and his assistant are killed.  As is Salander's "Guardian".  She is accused of the crime, but since she has tons of money now, she moved and can't be found.  Blomkvist, who has a soft spot for Salander, knows she didn't do it and goes about trying to figure out who might have.  He stumbles upon a den of human trafficking, prostitution and murders going back a long time, with links to Salander's terrible childhood.  Not nearly as thrilling as the original, but still a brilliant story told with great acting and an interesting plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Less violent, but more mystery and a few gory scenes that almost make you want to look away.  Less edgy, but an excellent return to terrific characters.  4 of 5 lambs/stars


The Mad Hatter said...

I was saddened to see this series play into the law of diminishing returns (each volume is weaker overall than the volume before).

But the oddest thing about the series, is the way the three chapters are so vastly different. You already noticed the shift in structure from Dragon to Fire...there's a further shift from Fire to Hornet.

As it stands, I find the complete series to average out to a "B", but am starting to find myself leaning towards telling people just to watch the first film and call it a day.

Good post - glad to see you made it through these heavy films intact!

Jess said...

You nailed it - diminishing returns, however, still superior movies when you're looking for terrific characters and action. Can't wait to see/read the last one.