Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DVD--The Girl Who Played with Fire

or: New director, way different sequel.

One word to sum it up: Inferior.

I, amazingly, really enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for the utterly fearless and brutal film that it was. Even though I don't really get the whole craze over the books by Stieg Larsson (they're average, but not as great as everyone makes them out to be). However, with my enduring excitement to watch The Girl Who Played with Fire, I came out quite disappointed. Mainly because the slight soft-porn theme this movie took on and the detached direction from Tomas Alfredson, who doesn't have a patch on Niels Arden Oplev.

After spending a year abroad, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returns to Sweden. She calls on her court-appointed guardian to remind him, in her own way, of his promise to submit satisfactory reports on her behavior. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) continues as an editor of Millenium magazine and they are onto a major story about prostitution and trafficking in women from Eastern Europe. When the investigative journalist working on that story is killed, the police announce that Lisbeth is their prime suspect. Lisbeth and Mikael work independently trying to find who is behind the murders. They not only learn the identity of the culprits but also some of Lisbeth's family secrets.

The biggest thing that this series has going for it is it's heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Most heroines we see these days are beautiful and sexy, go around shooting evil and never really have a back story. Lisbeth, on the other hand, is tomboyish and likes goth makeup and clothing; instead of shooting evil, she makes sure they suffer as much as she has; and the more we go into the series, we learn about Lisbeth's painful past and what she has done for female liberation. Therefore, Lisbeth is not only a very interesting watch, she is also iconic and stands for a reason. The perfect thing about Lisbeth is that she was brought to life by the amazing Noomi Rapace. My message to Rooney Mara: you have shoes three times the size of Bigfoot's feet to fill.

Not only does Noomi Rapace continue to give good performances in the series, she also has great chemistry with Michael Nyqvist, who plays Mikael Blomkvist. This, unfortunately, is part of the undoing of The Girl Who Played with Fire, as they spend most of the movie apart. Though learning of Lisbeth's background does make up for that, the sex-trafficking story seems so distant from the rest of it that I couldn't help but feel a little bored. It's not just the deficiencies in the story which keep this movie from being as good as the first. It's the strange direction from Tomas Alfredson, which at points felt either very doco-style or very home video style. He fails to pack to punch that the first one had, and I don't know if that's whether the material was just better, or if it's because of the big change. Despite all this, Rapace and Nyqvist keep things going, in a sequel which can't live up to the first one, but still proves worthy.

THE VERDICT: The Girl Who Played with Fire is a fine installment to the Millenium series, but the new director and slightly mediocre material.


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