Tag Archives: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Movie Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009)

I read the first book and saw the first two Swedish film adaptations, but unlike millions of people out there, I don’t really get why Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is the biggest commercial book sensation in the world at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the first book (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) was pretty good, albeit a little long and tedious, and I thought the first film was phenomenal. The second film (The Girl Who Played With Fire — I have the book but haven’t read it yet) was pretty good, but nowhere as good as I wanted or expected it to be.

And now, the third and final (unless Larsson’s widow writes another one) volume of the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is about to hit Australian cinemas next month. I saw it at a critics’ screening earlier this week, and I believe hard core fans of the series will not be disappointed. It’s still not as good as the first film, but is a moderate step up from the second.

This one picks up from where the second one left off, and Lisbeth Salander (ie, Noomi Rapace, aka the ‘Girl’ in all the titles) is fighting for her life after being shot in the head (at the end of the previous film), but things are just getting interesting as there is a massive conspiracy behind everything and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nykvist) is there to get to the bottom of it.

Like the two earlier films in the series, Hornet’s Nest is a slow burn for the most part, with short bursts of excitement and exhilaration tossed into the mix.  Once again, the story is driven by the two central characters, both who whom are at the peak of their game in this one.

I actually consider Dragon Tattoo to be kind of a separate part of the trilogy because it’s a film that stands up very well on its own.  On the other hand, Fire and Hornet’s Nest are essentially one film, with Fire providing the set up (which is why it was weaker) and Hornet’s Nest providing the climax.

I can’t say I found the conspiracy to be particularly intelligent or engaging (to be honest I found it a little unnecessarily convoluted), though the way it was all brought together was ultimately quite satisfying.  The courtroom scenes were especially enjoyable, as was the climatic showdown in the abandoned warehouse.

That said, like Fire, I was expecting and hoping for more, something that would blow me away and justify the hype surrounding this series.  It didn’t happen, but on the whole, I was still pleased with the experience.

3.75 stars out of 5

PS: Still kinda looking forward to the American version.

Movie Review: The Social Network (2010)

Admit it.  When you first heard that they were going to make a movie about Facebook, you thought it was going to suck too.  I certainly did.

But throw in Fight Club director David Fincher, producer Kevin Spacey and The West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin, base it around a nonfiction book by Ben Mezrich (who shot to fame with Bringing Down the House, which was made into the movie 21), and cast a bunch of young rising stars, and The Social Network suddenly becomes one of the best films of the year.

It is probably important to note upfront that accuracy of specific events may not have been a priority for screenwriter Sorkin when he wrote The Social Network, so don’t watch the film believing it to be entirely true.  However, we do know for a fact that certain things did happen.  We know that Mark Zuckerberg, a former Harvard student, created ‘Thefacebook’, a phenomenal social networking site that now has more than 500 million active members around the world.  We also know that he was sued by a few people — the identical Winklevoss twins for allegedly ripping off their idea, and his former best friend Eduardo Saverin, who Zuckerberg completely screwed over.

That’s all I’ll say about the plot, but believe me when I say it is a cracker.  The tone is set in the very first scene.  The characters are fascinating.  The relationships are compelling.  The dialogue is razor sharp.  And it’s surprisingly funny too.

Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as Zuckerberg.  He is mesmerizing to watch, and really makes you believe Zuckerberg is a genuine prick.  While Justin Timberlake has received mixed reviews as Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, some believe he is being tipped for a Best Suppporting Actor Oscar nomination.  Personally, I don’t think it weas an Oscar-worthy performance, but it was very good, and definitely better than what anyone was expecting.

The rest of the ensemble cast was terrific too.  The standout for me was the new Spiderman Andrew Garfield (Saverin), who grows on you as the film progresses.  But I really can’t poke a hole in any of the performances.  I think in years to come, The Social Network will be remembered as a classic that featured actors who went on to become superstars.  It’s already got Eisenberg and Garfield and Timberlake (all of whom should go on to bigger roles), not to mention Rooney Mara, Hollywood’s new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Armie Hammer, who plays both the Winklevoss twins, was hilarious, a great contrast to their more serious business partner Divya Narendra, played by Max Mingella (son of the late and great Anthony).  Even Brenda Song, who has a small role as Saverin’s girlfriend, was dynamite in a couple of scenes.

The Social Network is captivating drama at its best, and I’ve already seen it twice.

4.5 stars out of 5