Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie Review

So, there are three ways to experience the Millennium Trilogy (aka “that girl with the dragon tattoo thing”, as I’ve heard it referred to). The absolute best way to experience the story would be through the three books. I think we can all agree on that. Second would be the Swedish version that is available on Netflix. The third is the new feature film released this week in the U.S.

First, let’s talk about the 2nd option (the Swedish version). Even with subtitles, Noomi Rapace nails the best portrayal of her that I could want. Lisbeth is strong, confident, and utterly damaged. She doesn’t need a man. She’s better off without any of them–even Mikael. She’s brilliant, cunning, and as my wife says “kicks ass.”

Anyone who has seen what happens to a script that gets run through the Hollywood meat grinder knows exactly what happens to a European film adapted for American audiences. Look no further than the 2010 version of “Death at a Funeral”. I still shudder at even thinking about trying to finish that film (I couldn’t even get half-way through it the first time). Let’s face it. Sometimes, Hollywood butchers a good script.

That’s not so with the 2011 version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” They didn’t butcher it. There are improvements, and there are places where the movie didn’t live up to the Swedish version. Let’s go over a few things without giving too much away.

First, the opening credits of the latest edition are a lot more engaging. There’s a sort of black oil thing going on, and I can never get enough of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song. It’s just good fun. If there’s one thing that Hollywood still does better than anyone else, it’s flashy CGI. A++ on this effort.

Now, the most important part of the movie: Lisbeth. Not as good. Oversexed in this one and not in a way that really moved the film along better. The key scenes (like the rape) are pretty well done (as far as effect is concerned)–though I’m still partial to the Swedish version in how disturbing it was. There’s one thing I didn’t really like about Lisbeth’s character here though: she’s too… well… nice. She asks Mikael to lay down. She’s warm when I feel she shouldn’t be. She openly loves Mikael and is upset by him still sleeping around. I’m curious to how David Fincher will rectify this major change in her character. After all, her coldness is supposed to be a family trait–one she shares with her brother and father. You’re not supposed to melt the ice cube, imo. That was part of her charm and intrigue. We’ve also lost a way for her old guardian to explain to Mikael more about her father and what he’s done and is doing. I sure hope it isn’t Mikael’s daughter that manages to somehow decipher this (you’ll get this reference when you see the new version–if you’ve seen the old one).

She’s still intriguing though. And her T-shirts made my wife and I giggle. She’s still stand-offish to other people and the essence of the character is still intact. Mikael has a much larger role. Lisbeth doesn’t really solve as much as she did before, and I’m not sure if that’s altogether a good thing. After all, the next two movies are supposed to be all about her and her family. Will the audience be able to follow the big transition from “All Mikael” to “All Lisbeth” in the sequels? Probably.

This may seem like a bad review of the movie. In actuality, it’s not. I just really liked the Swedish version. My wife and I plan to go to the theater again to watch the Hollywood adaptation. We both saw and loved the Swedish version, but the new movie was very good. It was just different.

So, go out and see the new “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie. But see the Swedish version too. It’s probably best to watch the Swedish version second.

More movie reviews and a silly video

First, the silly video. Here’s a cat on a turtle.

Now, back to some movie reviews for Netflix titles. I love Netflix, and my wife loves to sleep. This could cause a lot of problems, but thankfully, Netflix has a large gallery of foreign films with English subtitles, which allow me to play the movie low and not miss dialogue. Not all foreign movies can be watched this way though and still have a decent enjoyment level. So, in this series of reviews, I also add a Sleeping Roommate Score (SRS) to indicate the likelihood of being able to watch the movie with a sleeping roommate or spouse in the next room and manage to not get yelled at and perpetual evil looks the next day.

First, the good. Max Manus.

From its interesting and casual storytelling of the work of saboteurs to its emotional and epic cinematography, this is a movie that keeps you interested and guessing. It’s a hero’s tale and though much of the story can be predicted, it was so well crafted that even predicting the plot felt rewarding. The dialogue mixes between languages so you’ll have some subtitles. Mixed with the action sequences and explosions, this means you cannot really watch this with a sleeping roommate nearby. But my wife stayed up to watch this one with me. It’s worth a watch.

Title: Max Manus
Rating: 5 stars. Excellent movie.
SRS: 2 star. You should not try watching this with a roommate sleeping near you.

Now, the unusually surprising. They’re not five stars, but they’re 3-4 stars and worth watching as a cinematic experience. And just me admitting to this is something that brings up very mixed emotions. Uwe Boll… has managed… to direct… two decent films. Yes, the director of Blood Rayne and Blood Rayne: Third Reich (both very terrible, btw).

Now, a warning. Apparently, the only thing Uwe Boll appears to do decently right now is extremely graphic violence. So, keep in mind that I have an ability to try to look past gory scenes, especially if there is a purpose in it.

Title: Rampage
Rating: 4 stars. Not a perfect movie, but for Uwe Boll, wow. It’s important to remember that this is a heist film and an interesting perspective on society. If you can get past the slow build and the insane psychopathic rage, you may actually say “you know… that’s actually ingenious.” And then you’ll realize you just said that about a Uwe Boll screenplay and directorship. Worth a watch.
SRS: 1 star. Under no circumstances will you get away with watching this on Netflix, hear the dialogue, and not anger sleeping persons.
WARNING: Language and Extreme Violence

Title: Attack on Darfur
Rating: 4 stars. Again, not a perfect movie, but it is a powerful portrayal of the conflict. From what I’ve read, real Darfur survivors were cast in the movie and much of their parts were unscripted–Uwe Boll listened to them and let them re-enact things that had happened to them and their families and friends. The plot of the Americans? Very fantasized. But, it is a movie and the American presence may help ground the story for most viewers.
SRS: 3 stars. Mixture of English and subtitles for the Sudanese and Arabic dialects. The good news is that the loud parts will become very obvious to you. There’s a huge battle scene, and almost everything after that point can be watched and not heard (or heard softly).

BOTH of these movies were started before I realized they were him. I’ve picked up a few others after I find his occasional success. The successes are a rarity though.

Title: The Warring States
Rating: 2 stars. Mostly bad. I love Asian movies. I’ve seen pretty much every movie set in the Three Kingdoms period that has ever been made. This movie tries to romanticize the historical setting of a possible author of the Art of War back in the Warring States period, but it is no Three Kingdoms. The CGI battles look very cheap. Some of the fight scenes are good, but I didn’t use the word “great” and I certainly didn’t say “All”. The death scene was just ridiculous. You’ll know the one I’m talking about when you see it. It’s not the fact that the person died. It’s that they’re even able to interact as they did. And it happens at the end, which is 9x worse than this happening in the middle or somewhere less memorable and lasting.
SRS: 5 stars. You can totally watch this with the subtitles on and volume down.

Movie Review: TrollHunter

So, I have this addiction. Sometimes instead of writing or researching, I’ll browse around Netflix and pick out random movies. This fascination with mostly low budget film has resulted in me rolling around on the couch for thirty minutes laughing at the absurdity of Megashark versus Giant Octopus (Syfy is by and large a terrible, terrible network and 30 minutes was the extent of my willingness to play along) and the remake of Moby Dick (also SyFy), but it has also resulted in me finding gems like 13 Assassins and the surprisingly good TrollHunter.

TrollHunter Trailer:

TrollHunter impressed me in a few distinct ways. First, it went with a Blair Witch angle and actually nailed the type of first person, campy camera crew feel. Second, Norway is just a gorgeous country, and I’m pretty sure you could film an old man running through the country in his skivvies and you’d at least have a 3 out of 10 star film review from me. And third, the pacing, story, and willingness to kill a main character was appreciated. Once the director did that, I was expecting the worse for our film crew, but it built a living folk hero instead.

I was very pleasantly surprised all around with the film. Definitely an indie-budget movie I would recommended. Even the special effects are 9x better than what I expected.

Review: 4.0 out of 5.0. Recommended.

Happy reading and viewing everyone!

Edit: Just found out that Rotten Tomatoes gave TrollHunter an 82%, so I’m definitely in agreement with critics on this one!


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