Actually, I like this trailer.  The American one was pretty cool too (and I’ll maybe find that one to add at some point), but the voice over for the American one was also a bit… meh?

Beginning actual review: for future reference, I really need to not read the book and finish it a day before I decide to see the movie.  I’ll either need to read the book after seeing the movie (ie. The Road, A Single Man), or prior to the movie and give it enough time before actually going to see it (ie. Harry Potter 4-6, and the upcoming 7.1 and 7.2).  I did the same thing with The Golden Compass as I did with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but that was a pretty bad movie anyway, so I didn’t need the book to influence my overall remarks about the film.

So, for The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, I will read the books before the movies get released here, and they will: the whole trilogy has been filmed in Sweden (and released throughout Scandinavia), so it’s only a matter of time before the sequels come state side.  Maybe one per year, many consecutively filmed trilogies tend to be released. (Note: Wikipedia said that the US film distributor is going to release the films later this year. Score.)

But I digress: I read the book and saw the movie, and while watching the movie, I kept referring to certain events in the book, trying to figure out the similarities and differences between the two types of media.  Obviously the novel is going to be the fuller work: there’s much more room to play with in a 400 page novel than you will have in a two hour movie (in this case, two and a half hours).  Stuff works and stuff doesn’t work, but that is what everyone would come to accept for movies based on novels.

So, it is my duty to try and separate the two, and as such, I will review as much of the film as possible as a movie itself, and nothing with regards to the book (this site wouldn’t be called Boyo at the Movies if I did in fact review other things, now would it?).

Ready?  Let’s begin.

Is this movie good?  Yes, quite good in fact.  It’s neo-noir/detective thriller at its finest.  The plot is easy enough to grasp: Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist facing jail time for libeling a giant corporation in his magazine Millenium.  He gets contacted by Henrik Vanger, of the Vanger Corporation, who requests his help in discovering the murderer of his favorite niece, Harriet, which occurred forty years prior.  Mikael starts discovering new clues within Henrik’s personal collection of information received from the police and other sources during the investigation.  He also receives help from Lisbeth Salander, a young, introverted goth who knows everything about Blomkvist, investigating him for Vanger, but also for herself, or for the case, which intrigues her just as much as it does Blomkvist.  There’s more to her beyond being an introvert though, which Blomkvist slowly but surely picks up on.

Oh, and no one wants them around either.  No one being pretty much the entire Vanger clan, which Henrik despises.

In terms of detective style nuances, Blomkvist and Salander pick up on things naturally as they flow along.  Blomkvist picks up on one clue, which start leading into other clues.  A discovery of Harriet’s personal bible with initials and numbers has a certain importance, but Salander, who is a genius computer hacker, puts it together from her memory.  They investigate old sources, and it takes time to do so.  This isn’t detective work like TV, where the one hour time requires that everything be solved in two days or less, with the best equipment available.  This is getting your hands dirty detective work, searching for days and turning up dead ends but finding something that may in fact be useful later.  Weeks and months pass with either very little or a lot of progress.

These are ordinary people too: Blomkvist is in his forties.  He’s thorough in his work as a journalist, and it translates for him here while he’s looking for Harriet’s killer.  He has six months until his prison sentence.  He has time (and he’s even told that he himself may not find out who the killer is), and he’s getting paid well from Henrik to investigate.  Salander is something completely different: 24 years old, thin, covered in tattoos and piercings (the dragon on her back is intimidating, to say the least), largely unattractive, and yet highly attractive in her own way, secretive and withdrawn, but is sharp and knows how to handle herself.  She hates men, or at least abusive men (the original Swedish title converts to Men Who Hate Women, which I think wouldn’t fly well here in America).  Her back story and her encounter with her guardian, her new one, suggests just as much, and the trailers for the second and third film look to expand upon those plot threads.

It goes without saying that the actors who plays these characters do them well, and they fit them perfectly.  I actually looked at pictures of Noomi Rapace: the transformation between what she looks like in real life and as Salander is staggering.  She’s a terrific actor too, not just how she speaks but how she really acts.  Salander speaks more with her actions: her eyes are constantly roving, her mouth twitches constantly, she’s impatient and irritated often, and Rapace pulls it off.

The film is not rated, and probably for good reason: there is a lot of sex and violence in the film, both sometimes going together.  None of it is snuff though, or torturous for that matter.  It’s bound to upset some viewers, but it’s necessary in that it drives the film by driving the characters and their motivations, especially Salander.  Her history suggests sexual violence.  Still, because of the non-rating, only the independent theaters and the art houses will be playing this.  In Philly and the suburbs, it’s downtown, but it’s also in Ambler and Doylestown, as of this writing.

So yes, this movie is well worth it.  Don’t expect everything to be on the screen that was in the book though.  You won’t be disappointed either way.

A-

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