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Posts Tagged ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

Lisbeth Salander is hired by a computer programmer to steel his own program from the American government as he fears the power it gives.  This sets in motion a chain of events that are uncomfortably close to home for Salander. The Girl in the Spider's Web poster

First, a little background; This is the fifth time Lisbeth Salander has made it to the big screen, originally, Noomi Rapace appeared in adaptations of all three of Stieg Larsson’s novels (all 2009 – also shown in Sweden as a six part, nine hour, TV miniseries in 2010).  Then Rooney Mara took the part in David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).  Both versions of the first book were excellent, parts two and three, while still good, lost their way a little, as did their source material.  Author, Stieg Larsson died in 2004 before the publication and immense success of the Millennium trilogy.  Following this success, David Lagercrantz (whose previous books include a biography of Zlatan Ibrahimović) was commissioned to write a new trilogy, the first of these, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Lisbeth Salander

So this brings us up to date, and asks the question, is it any good?  The simple answer, yes, not bad.  “A New Dragon Tattoo Story” as it is being marketed in some territories lives or dies on the casting, the filmmakers gave themselves a head start by casting Claire Foy who is nothing short of fantastic.  Not exactly the character of the original trilogy, even a little more human and dare I say it warm than the previous incarnations, she is still recognisable as Salander in both look and temperament.  The rest of the casting is a little distracting, while Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist and Vicky Krieps as Erika Berger are both very good in their respective roles, they are ten to fifteen years too young to play them.  Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks) is described in the books as being incredibly beautiful is buried under a tone of hair and makeup.The Girl in the Spider's Web

The plot is total nonsense, but does its job in that it gives an environment for the characters to shine.  A little like The Fast and Furious franchise has morphed into Mission: Impossible, Lisbeth Salander has become equal parts Robert McCall, Simon Templar, James Bond and Jack Reacher, except, she’s a girl! Once you accept this, you can enjoy it for what it is, or should I say what it has become, a dumb, but fun thriller.  The story diverges a lot from the plot of the book on which it is based, this isn’t a bad thing as the book was flawed and served Blomkvist better than Salander.claire foy lisbeth salander

The film looks fantastic, the photography is stunning, this is nothing new for the franchise; except unlike the previous versions, it is the interiors, urban and industrial landscapes that shine, not the snow-covered vista’s.  This comes as no surprise as Pedro Luque has a background in horror movies. it is helped by great production design.  The direction from Fede Alvarez is relatively taught with just a little sag in the second act.  Like his cinematographer Alvarez also has background in horror, it therefore comes as a surprise that he is better at the action set pieces than the tension.The Girl in the Spider's Web

I don’t expect to see this on any best of lists at the end of the year, but I also don’t think anyone should be bored by it.  I hope it does well enough to get a sequel for two reasons; the second book, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is a better story, and more importantly, I want to see more of Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander!

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I know trailer breakdowns are a big thing, but I have never bothered writing much about trailers.  I don’t even go out of my way to watch them, but one has caught my attention; The Girl in the Spiders Web.  I have had the book on which it is based, for a couple of years, but only just gotten around to reading it.  David Lagercrantz was commissioned to write the book (and potentially a trilogy) by the Stieg Larsson estate.  The story has a more focused narrative and is less sprawling than the original books.  He is however, less assured in his use the leading characters; it is almost as if he hero-worships Mikael Blomkvist, and is afraid of Lisbeth Salander (or her legion of fans).  I got to impression that Blomkvist appeared in the story far more than Salander, he got more of whatever the literary equivalent to screen time is called.  Then I saw this trailer:

As far as I can see, Blomkvist doesn’t appear in the trailer.  I only recognise one character from the book other than Salander (I won’t mention who to avoid spoilers) and it inst Blomkvist.  Most of the scenes in the trailer are not from the book, or play out differently.  This is probably not a bad thing, it is a different medium after all, a good adaptation doesn’t have to be a faithful one! The photography and production design look impressive, reminiscent of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal TV show.Lisbeth Salander

The most significant thing about the trailer is Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander.  I was very excited about what she could do with the character after seeing her in Unsane earlier in the year.  Having seen a glimpse of her in the trailer I am even more interested.  As well as her performance, I am glad to see the filmmakers have given her, her own look and not copied Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara.

The Girl in the Spiders Web is Set for release in November this year.

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2011 Films

All the films I saw at the cinema in 2011 ranked in order of preference:
  1. Hugo
  2. Drive
  3. The Guard
  4. Black Swan
  5. Senna
  6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  7. True Grit
  8. We Need to Talk About Kevin
  9. Midnight In Paris
  10. The Skin I live in
  11. The King’s Speech
  12. Moneyball
  13. Stake Land
  14. Kill List
  15. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  16. Another Earth
  17. Melancholia
  18. Warrior
  19. 127 Hours
  20. The Way
  21. Julia’s Eyes
  22. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  23. Troll Hunter
  24. 50/50
  25. Source Code
  26. Submarine
  27. Super 8
  28. 13 Assassins
  29. A Lonely Place To Die
  30. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
  31. The Adjustment Bureau
  32. X-Men: First Class
  33. Thor
  34. Captain America: The First Avenger
  35. Limitless
  36. My Week With Marilyn
  37. The Inbetweeners Movie
  38. Take Shelter
  39. The Rum Diary
  40. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  41. The Ides Of March
  42. Real Steel
  43. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  44. Fair Game
  45. Never Let Me Go
  46. Blue Valentine
  47. Tree Of Life
  48. The Lincoln Lawyer
  49. The Help
  50. In Time
  51. The Awakening
  52. Sucker Punch
  53. Fast Five
  54. Hanna
  55. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
  56. Wuthering Heights
  57. Contagion
  58. The Fighter
  59. Paul
  60. Animal Kingdom
  61. NEDS
  62. Rabbit Hole
  63. One Day
  64. John Carpenter’s The Ward
  65. Drive Angry
  66. The Beaver
  67. Beginners
  68. Bridesmaids
  69. Red State
  70. Cowboys and Aliens
  71. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  72. The Conspirator
  73. The Art of Getting By
  74. I am Number Four
  75. Fright Night
  76. Henry’s Crime
  77. Blitz
  78. Priest
  79. Red Riding Hood
  80. Oranges and Sunshine
  81. Faster
  82. 1920 The Battle of Warsaw
  83. Win Win
  84. Colombiana
  85. Water for Elephants
  86. Immortals
  87. Battle: Los Angeles
  88. 30 Minutes or Less
  89. Hereafter
  90. Biutiful
  91. The Mechanic
  92. The Thing
  93. The Three Musketeers
  94. Anonymous
  95. Tomorrow, When The War Began
  96. The Debt
  97. Green Lantern
  98. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
  99. Footlose
  100. Justice
  101. Attack the Block
  102. Apollo 18
  103. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  104. Unkown
  105. Scream 4
  106. The Silent House
  107. The Eagle
  108. The Resident
  109. Season of the Witch
  110. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  111. The Hangover: Part II
  112. Sanctum

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When I compiled a list of my top ten vampire movies in 2009 the 2008 Swedish movie Let The Right One In came second behind Near Dark (1987). Shortly after this the movie was remade in America as Let Me In (2010). The remake was well directed by Matt Reeves who had previously impressed with Cloverfield (2008). The acting was great particularly from Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Moretz. Greig Fraser’s photography is stunning and the New Mexico locations are surprisingly good. Despite all this I didn’t actually enjoy the movie coming so close after the original Swedish film it all fell a little flat, it certainly offered nothing new but also inexplicably felt to be lacking something; in short what was the point? This was my greatest fear for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, coming just two years after the Swedish version (actually called Män som hatar kvinnor that translates to Men who hate women. Like the book it is based on it was renamed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the English speaking market) how relevant would it be?

The first thing to say now that I have seen both versions (and having previously read the book) is that the David Fincher version is an adaptation of the book and not a remake of the original film. The reason they are so similar is that they are both relatively faithful to the book. Normally this would be a good thing, but to be relevant so soon after the first adaptation I can’t help thinking it needs to separate itself from the original in the way Let Me In failed to do. The interesting thing is that they have both watered-down the politics that are personal to the author and cement the story as a Swedish one. This is one of the changes that makes the Swedish setting less important and would have made transposing the story to the UK or the USA possible. As well as a more original film it could have had a very timely subtext about the financial crisis. A few changes would have been needed but it is an adaptation of a book into a different medium and changes will always be made.

Taken on their own merits, both films are very good. They both fall down in a few places, sometimes the same places possibly showing limitations of the source novel. The key to how you will feel about the films rests in the portrayals of Salander and Blomkvist and therefore is likely to decide if you like the films and which you prefer. After seeing the original film I felt it was perfectly cast: Michael Nyqvist plays as Blomkvist as an everyman hero. Lisbeth Salander, is a harder part to fill but Noomi Rapace was a revelation. The perfect portrayal (despite being a little too old and too tall for the part) rightly launched her onto the international stage. In the new version Daniel Craig is pretty good fit as Blomkvist un-toning his James Bond physique. Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander is more likely to divide opinion; as I see it, from an acting point of view she isn’t as good as Rapace, however conversely her performance is better. She plays Lisbeth as both more vulnerable and more dangerous, this is both more interesting and closer to the character in the book.

So where do we find relevance in this remake, at what point does it become a credible film in its own right and stop being a pointless imitation for people who can’t be bothered to read subtitles? I have a theory on this. As mentioned at the top I do believe it is an adaptation of the book and not a remake of the first film, but this isn’t enough. The greatest failing of the original Swedish version was not in the film itself but its two sequels: The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes). Both far weaker films mainly because they fail to move away from their TV origins. And that is where David Fincher and his cast can find relevance and a reason for the existence of a $100million that differs little from the original (other than to make money for its studio), they have the opportunity to put what went wrong first time around and give us parts two and three of the Millennium trilogy that live up to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

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With just two more movies to see this year: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (making a total of 108 movies seen at the cinema this year) I am already looking forward to the new year. I am led to believe the early part of the year can be a bit of a barren time for American cinema goers but here in the UK the new year is often the time to see the Oscar bait movies that week get a few months later.

With two academy awards from sixteen nominations, nothing says Oscar like Meryl Streep. The Iron Lady tells the story of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. From the clips and trailers I have seen, it looks interesting, the only doubt, the directors, Phyllida Lloyd’s only other feature appears to be Mamma Mia!

I have heard nothing but good things about Shame despite the unusual and controversial subject matter, sex addiction. After the excellent Hunger (2008), the re-teaming of director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender must be a good thing. The addition of co star Carey Mulligan and I am really looking forward to this one.

Clearly Ralph Fiennes’ doesn’t believe in making life easy for himself, making his directorial debut with an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. The updated setting is reminiscent of Richard Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), looks interesting.

I understand J,Edgar has had mixed reviews on the other side of the Atlantic but with Clint Eastwood in the directors chair and Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role it has to be worth seeing.

There is already Oscar talk about George Clooney in The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne (Election 1999 & Sideways 2004). I don’t know much about it but Clooney on good form remains a watchable movie star reminiscent of the stars from the golden age of cinema, I’m in!

Bizarrely, the two films I am most looking forward to aren’t going to feature at the Oscars, they are more what is (condescendingly) referred to as “genre movies”. As one of the few people who liked The Girlfriend Experience I am always interested in Steven Soderbergh’s more experimental ideas. Like with The Girlfriend Experience Soderbergh has gone for an unexpected lead actress for the action movie Haywire, former Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. He has surrounded her with an impressive supporting cast including: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. As I said it won’t win Oscars but it looks like its going to be fun.

There are two real guilty pleasure franchises around at the moment, we have to wait until later in the year for the next Resident Evil movie, but Underworld Awakening is out in January. Nearly a decade after the first Underworld movie Kate Beckinsale is back in her most iconic role (and costume). From the trailer it looks as dumb as the previous movies, but I really don’t care, I can’t wait!

Other movies coming out in January include: War Horse. Thanks to a really cheesy trailer, I can honestly say I have never been less excited by a new Steven Spielberg movie. I know nothing about The Darkest Hour other than what I have seen in the trailer but with director Chris Gorak who impressed with his debut Right at Your Door (2006) and Timur Bekmambetov credited as a produce I will give it a go. Another movie I now nothing about other than the trailer is Man on Ledge. The trailer makes it look a lot like Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006), that isn’t a bad thing.

Check back on the 1st of February to find out what I actually saw and what I thought of them.

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