Hollywood couldn’t possibly release a film called “Men Who Hate Women”, could they? Even though this was the original Swedish language title of the book by Stieg Larsson and movie, it just wouldn’t work for Hollywood, would it? “The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo” sounds far more reasonable, far more exotic, doesn’t it?
Aside from the name change (which was also adopted for the English subtitled release of the Swedish books and films), I thought they’ve done a pretty good job of turning the Swedish crime page-turner into a Hollywood blockbuster.
“There’s nothing to worry about”, I told my friend Grant on the phone as I left the cinema. Like me, he’s a big Swedophile, and we’ve both approached the release of the English language translation of these films with some trepidation. I’ve read the books in English, a third of the first book in Swedish, and I’ve seen the original films made for Swedish TV a couple of times. In fact, the first, “Män som hatar kvinnor”, Grant and I have both watched in Swedish without subtitles. That was really hard-going. Grant has also been on the Millenium Tour in Stockholm.
The second of the three Swedish films, The Girl Who Played With Fire is probably my favourite. It pumps along at a cracking pace.
The pace of this first Hollywood adaption of the Millenium series is similar. Even though it’s close to three hours in duration I never once found myself distracted or bored. Significantly, only one person left the cinema during the showing for only a brief toilet break, and the friend I went with, who normally needs to take at least one toilet break during a long movie, and who usually complains “most films are twenty minutes too long” also never once found himself bored or distracted.
The plot for this film differs in a few areas from the original film, though not distractingly so. It’s still very much the story of Mikael Blomkvist and his relationship with Lisbeth Salander, as they deal with their own dramas/demons and try to resolve the mystery of the death of Harriet Vanger. On a slightly parochial and disappointing note, Harriet Vanger doesn’t end up living in Australia, as in the original. Instead, she’s in London.
As much as I love the characters created by the Swedish actors, Noomi Rapace and Mikael Nyqvist, I thought Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were also very good in their roles. And of course, Daniel Craig has the advantage of being even more sexy than Mikael Nyqvist, while still carrying off some of the “foppishness” of the original character found in the Swedish films and books.
About the only part of the film that I didn’t like were the opening credits. Set over a Trent Reznor composed soundtrack, and with high-tech animation graphics, I thought it seemed a little “try hard”. A little hipster. A little too groovy. A little too contrived, to be honest.