The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest
2009 (UK release 2010)
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Screening at UK cinemas now
Just like my review of the last movie in the this series, this ones going to have loads of spoilers including stuff that’s in the books but not in the movies. Worse than that, I can tell you right off the bat that it’s probably going to come off as really angry and ranty. You have been warned!
On my review of the last movie right here I mentioned all the reasons why The Girl Who Played With Fire failed as an adaptation of its original source material... but also cut it some slack because I do, contrary to popular belief, realise the difference between a film and a novel and although the movie versions of the first two parts of Larrson’s Millenium Trilogy removed a lot of what was in there, I think the director’s of these two still managed to make coherent films which could be read as stand alone, de-boned cousins of their literary counterparts.
A lot of the good will I was extending in this though hinged on the director of the second movie at least continuing that trend in the third movie... and he’s lost me. No more Mr. Passively-watching-three-of-my-favourite-novels-of-recent-years-being-chewed-up-and-spat-out-in-a-shapeless-mess guy for me. This is where I draw that line in the sand and... oh screw that... this is where I pull down my pants, grope around the angry genitals inside and p*ss a line in the sand just to belabour the point.
So let's nail those heavy duty staples into this rickety coffin of a movie like Salander nails her half-brothers feet to the floor with an industrial stapler - there you go! That’s your first spoiler... YOU WERE WARNED!
1. Erica Berger is completely sidelined again. She doesn’t leave Millennium at the start and go to run a rival newspaper. She doesn’t land a fantastic and scandalous story while she’s there and have to return to Millennium to publish that story. She is not played as the cool and woman-with-a-kinky-past-in-control as she is in the books... she’s more of a weepy mother in this.
She does still get the threatening emails in the movie but... what the f@*%! Because she’s still working for Millennium in the movie... they’re not from an angry employee at the rival newspaper... they’re from the "secret cell" in the government who are trying to cover their tracks and bury the Salander story and all who are connected with it! Now tell me people... what secret organisation who send out silent killers and have been really good at staying under everyone’s radar for the last 40 years send one of their targets threatening emails? Duh!
2. Wow. Salander recovers from her head wound pretty quick! Since she’s in hospital for months and many months more in prison and then on trial... you’d think that pregnant belly on her lawyer (at least she’s still Blomkvist’s sister, thank goodness) would have expanded and released small child into the world by the end of the movie wouldn’t you? Like the second movie, the first three quarters of the novel (what, 300 - 400 pages) flash by in the first 20 minutes or so. Honestly... Noomi Rapace is an almost perfect Lisbeth Salander... but the way the material has been exploited doesn’t do this actress or her character any justice.
3. They keep on mentioning the step-brother. He’s hardly around for the first 98% of the book because the writer presumably wants you to forget about him until he pulls him out as a surprise at the end... here they keep constantly reminding you of him and show him terrorising and killing people.
4. The group of Salander Knights... Blomkvist, Palmierri and a few others who are looking out for her interests, even though she would never ask them to, are not even mentioned as a functioning unit. Bye-bye, heart of the male characters in the novel.
5. Blomkvist’s new girlfriend, the government agent who is an athletic woman with the build of a weight trainer is a slimmed down, barely present character in this movie! What the f%&*!
6. Blomkvist and Erika Berger’s relationship and the consequences thereof: Blomkvist and Berger sleep together a lot in the novels, even though Berger is married (again in the novels only it seems). Almost everyone is in an open relationship in the novels and everyone is cool and above board about it. Except Salander who catches her new, one and only love Blomkvist, arm in arm with Berger in the last pages of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. From that point on she hates him and wants nothing to do with him. Similarly, Blomkvist decides to stop leading that lifestyle in the third book when he hooks up with Figuerola, his muscle bound fitness babe!
Now bearing in mind that all these sexual politics were left out of the previous movie... In this third movie the relationship between Blomkvist and Berger is finally referenced... but because the audience don’t know about it unless they’ve read the books, it looks like they’re about to get together for the first time as a blossoming couple! Worse yet is the end scene from the novel where Blomkvist, after everything he’s done for Salander (which you don’t really get from the movie), finally knocks on her door and they say a few words together and become friends again, it reads as a positive resolution for the future of these two characters becoming allies again. But because you don’t know any of that past tension in the movies... the final scene in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, although it plays out pretty straight to the book, looks like Salander’s rejection of Blomkvist. By this point I’m pretty sure the movie audience has no idea what the heck is going on. It ends on a down-played fizzle as opposed to a sense of hope and closure. Great. Works lovely at the end of The Third Man but it screws up the way the movie works here!
So there you have it... one of the shoddier adaptations I’ve seen and not a patch on the original novel. I was so dissapointed in this one. I’m now half looking forward to seeing what the US remake does with this one just in case they decide they’re going to do them properly!
Until then... don’t bother seeing this movie. Go read the three books instead... at the very least they’ll arm you with the knowledge to at least be able to figure out what’s going on in most of the movies!