Monday, July 25, 2011

PCP on DVD - Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 50 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’m going to do things a little differently.  As the movies in this post are part of a trilogy, I will be discussing all 3 films in one large review.  The films are the Swedish adaptations of the bestselling Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  Also known as:  The books and movies with the obnoxiously long titles.  I have not read the books yet that these are based on, but I plan to at some point, and I’ll also be watching the American remakes of these when they come out, directed by David Fincher.  When I saw these, I watched the subtitled, not dubbed versions.  Now, on to the reviews:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 152 minutes.  My rating:  9 out of 10
The Girl Who Played With Fire 129 minutes.  My rating:  8 out of 10
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest 147 minutes.  My rating:  8 out of 10.
Starring:  Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre.  All are rated R, and all were released in 2009.  All are in Swedish with English subtitles. 

Reviews after the jump

One of my favorite things about watching foreign films is that I have no clue who the actors are.  So, when watching a mystery film, you don’t know which actors are big name stars who are the likely culprits of the crime, and who are just glorified extras.  That pulls me in deeper into the mystery, trying to solve it along with the characters in the film, without having any sort of extra clues based on the actors star power.  This trilogy does just that, it allows me to enjoy the mystery weaving through the story, without thinking to myself “the killer must be that character, because it’s being played by a big name star.”  In the first film in the series, we are introduced to intrepid investigator Mikael Blomkvist, played by actor Michael Nyqvist.  He is a bit down on his luck, having lost a libel case and facing a 3 month prison sentence.  He is hired by a rich old man, Henrik, to solve the long cold mystery of what happened to his niece 40 years prior.  He is helped in his investigation by the deeply troubled and scarred emotionally Lisbeth Salander, played excellently by Noomi Rapace, and with one of the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen in a film- the titular Dragon Tattoo on her back.  Her performance in this role, especially as she endures a brutal sexual assault, is astounding.  She is a phenomenal actress.  She’ll be introduced to American audiences in the Sherlock Holmes sequel that is currently filming.  Although the film bogs down at a few points (it is 2 and a half hours long) its still a great mystery that will leave you guessing right up until the end as to what happened to the niece and who was responsible.  It is a great film and a great start of the series.  Unfortunately, that start becomes a little bit hard to top, as the film sets the bar very high and the rest of the series does not quite live up to the first film, but they are still good in their own right.  Dragon Tattoo is definitely not for sensitive audiences, as some of the scenes, especially the sexual assaults, are very brutal and graphic.  There is no Hollywood glamorization or glossing over of the violence here, that’s for sure.

In the second film in the series, the characters from the first return, this time to solve who framed Lisbeth for several murders.  While the first film is a cold case mystery, the second is definitely a hot case set more in the present.  We do get some flashbacks though to Lisbeth’s past, and we learn a lot about how she started down her dark bath and got so emotionally scarred.  The title of playing with fire refers to an incident she had when she was a child, and also is sort of a play on words considering how dangerous of a life she lives in the present.  The film is very solid and a good thrill ride, with some interesting twists and turns along the way.  The ending of the film however is a bit of a cliffhanger, with the story picked up at the start of the third film in the series.  The third film, Hornets Nest, is more of a courtroom drama than a thriller mystery like the first two in the series, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining of a film.  It continues to deepen the mystery of the second film, and it reveals even more about what makes Lisbeth tick.  It is a great film and a great ending to the series, it is one of the better courtroom dramas that I have seen in awhile.  In short, this trilogy is worth watching, especially for the outstanding performance by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth.  Even if you haven’t read the books, they were still made into some great movies, so take the time to watch them.

No comments:

Post a Comment