Tag Archives: Mikael Blomkvist

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 Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)

After missing two preview screenings, I finally got a chance to catch The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second film in the hugely successful Millennium trilogy based on the books by the late Stieg Larsson.  This time, I went into the cinema not having read the book (which I have, but have been too busy to tackle), which got me a little excited because I had no idea what it was about.

At the end of the day, The Girl Who Played with Fire was okay.  It’s not as horrible as some reviewers say it is (like this one that gave it 0/5 stars), though it’s certainly not as good as some others say either (like Ebert, who gave it 3.5/4).  To me, even though it was adequate and engaging for the most part, it was still ultimately a disappointment.

The Girl Who Played with Fire takes begins shortly after the end of the first film, with the titular character, Lisbeth Salander (played once again in a brilliant performance by Noomi Rapace), on a ‘break’.  The man whose life she saved in the first film, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is back at Millennium magazine and looking into a potential article on the sex-trafficking trade in Sweden.  Like the first film, the two main characters carry the film despite leading separate paths, and to be honest, it was almost like watching two separate movies at times.

Also like the first film (and the book), this one is also what I would consider a ‘slow burn’.  Actually, the pace is probably even slower.  I don’t have a problem with that, but to me, the plot was not as exciting as what I had expected.  Instead of a slick detective adventure into the seedy underworld of sex-trafficking, The Girl Who Played with Fire is really a more personal tale about Salander’s past.  Even when there were murders and a couple of mysteries involved, it never escalated into the adrenaline-pumping thriller I hoped it would be.  It remained mildly interesting but the story simply plodded along with a few unsurprising twists and left me feeling a little empty by the end.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still an above-average thriller, but that’s all it is.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but is it wrong to expect more out of a film based on the biggest selling books in the world right now?

3 stars out of 5