PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

'Stieg Larsson's Dragon Tattoo Trilogy': A Well Earned Feeling of Justice

Fans of the Stieg Larsson books will be rewarded with an overall successful adaptation, as well as a set of films that stand on their own.


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Distributor: Music Box
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Sofia Ledarp, Peter Andersson, Micke Spreitz, Georgi Staykov, Yasmine Garbi, Annika Hallin, Jacob Ericksson, Anders Ahlbom
Directors: Niels Arden Oplev, Daniel Alfredson
Studio: Music Box Films
Release Date: 2011-02-22

Adapting a book into a movie is never an easy process. It's impossible to include everything written in hundreds of pages into a couple of hours on screen and certainly Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy is not exempt. It's especially tricky to manage when so much of the audience is already familiar with and invested in the story.

Adding to the difficult nature of these adaptations is the difference in director from film to film. Niels Arden Oplev directed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the first and third films in the trilogy, while the second film, The Girl Who Played With Fire, was directed by Daniel Alfredson and while the transition between films is fairly seamless, there are some differences.

There's no doubt that a great deal of what has made the book series as successful as it is, is due to the singular character of Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). Salander is the atypical heroine in a story of institutional corruption, crimes perpetrated against women, and societal expectations. The complex plot that extends throughout the three books is filled with a growing cast of characters and conflicting interests making for a challenging adaption.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the most successful of the three films precisely because it is our introduction to Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). It's a more manageable translation from page to screen and Oplev’s commitment to the material is evident. Not only does the first film introduce our protagonists, but it also involves the mystery of Harriet Vanger, who has been missing since she was a girl. Vanger’s disappearance serves as a bridge between Salander and Blomkvist and they are initially brought together in solving the mystery. Some of the most harrowing and disturbing moments in the trilogy occur in this first film and Oplev manages to present these scenes in a straightforward, non gratuitous manner making them dark and affecting.

The Girl Who Played With Fire may not be as consistent or as adept at balancing the various complicated threads that run through a large gamut of characters as the other films. However, it is still an admirable and engaging adaptation that plays to the strengths of the lead performances by Rapace and Nyqvist. The second film does away with many of the characters in the corresponding book, police mainly. Despite some missing elements the film still manages to infuse tension and suspense, particularly in the moments when it seems as if Salander’s in as dangerous a situation as possible. Here is when Alfredson’s direction comes together to create a thrilling conclusion to the second chapter of this series.

Oplev’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has the unique challenge of a story that keeps Salander almost completely isolated from those we’ve already come to know. In addition, she is in an especially vulnerable position as she is confined to a hospital for the majority of the film. It's not easy to imbue such a circumstance with ongoing tension, yet the film succeeds in doing just that. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest also benefits from the addition of Blomkvists’s sister as Salander’s legal representation and Dr. Jonasson , the kind and capable doctor in charge of Salander’s recovery. These two add to the support system that has built over the course of the three films and they serve to emphasize the progress, small though it may seem, made by Salander herself in interpersonal interactions, as well as present sympathetic allies that may not fully understand her but still feel an affinity for or protectiveness toward her.

At the culmination of the three films there is a well earned feeling of justice. While those that have wronged Salander can never truly be punished equally for what she has had to endure, there is still a sense of real victory as the series ends. While in some ways it may seem unfair to compare the books to the movies, it is not a stretch to assume that much of the films’ audience would also already be familiar with them. It is a credit to both Oplev and Alfredson that they are as good as they are. Smart story choices and excellent casting were integral to a successful adaption because in some ways it is a series that seems tailor-made to the screen, daunting though the task may be. Fortunately, fans of the books will be rewarded with an overall successful adaptation, as well as a set of films that stand on their own.

This collection contains an extra disc of bonus features that includes several documentaries and interviews. The documentaries extend to one on Larsson himself and the phenomenon of the trilogy, as well as a ‘making o’f featurette on the fight scene between Niederman and Paulo Roberto. The Larsson documentary offers an illuminating view into Larsson’s background (including even some bits of Swedish history) and his interest in the subject matter. The interviews provide serious, thoughtful insight into the characters, particularly Rapace’s and Nyqvist’s, and some revealing moments from Roberto.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.