Skip to main content

Everyone has secrets.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(2009)

I had previously seen  this, but not in the form of the extended (two-part TV version) of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm not sure it gains a huge amount from having an extra 30 minutes to play with. TGWPWF (below) is 50 minutes longer than the cinema release, so some fairly hefty pruning went on. 


***1/2




The Girl Who Played with Fire
(2009)


While the character of Lisbeth Salander features as a protagonist in solving a murder mystery in the first film, here her backstory is very much central to the plot. In part seeing this second installment only confirmed that Stieg Larrson's plotting and characterisation hit strictly B-movie notes. On that level it works as an effective thriller, replete with the same kind of overblown third act developments that made it difficult to take its predecessor too seriously (the burial scene is particularly hard to swallow).

Daniel Alfredson (brother of Tinker Tailor director Tomas) takes over from Niels Arden Opley as director and directs efficiently. The story's structured to keep Blomkvist and Lisbeth separate for most of the running time, which works surprisingly well. The police investigation seems to be mostly composed of idiots, which highlights the clunkiness of Larrson's wish fulfilment fantasty with his two leads. I think Michael Nyqvist makes a better Blomkvist than Daniel Craig, but I prefer Rooney Mara's Lisbeth. Noomi Rapace gives a good performance, but she feels a touch too mature for the part.

***1/2



The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
(2009)

I'd probably rate this as the best of The Millenium Trilogy, even if the resolution was a little too neat and tidy. Salander and Blomkvist are again separated for much of the running time, with the former awaiting trial for events in the previous film (I can see why the plan - should they go ahead - is to film the US sequels back-to-back). This probably engaged me more than the others due to the machinations of the conspiracy surrounding Salander, which takes centre stage. For a change with a conspiracy plot, the main wheels of government aren't identified as villainous. But the pervading suspicion of police and corruptibility of power structures is persistent.

Alfredson returns to direct and stages some effective set pieces (most notably an attack on a cafe). He might have been wise to rein in some of the dafter elements (although let's face it, they're in abundance), including Salander showing up in court in full punk regalia and piercings (I'm not sure even Sweden would let that pass) and a showdown that seems to be something of an afterthought. Definitely at its strongest in the opening half, with its creeping paranoia and sense of futility, before the tide turns.

***1/2

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Just make love to that wall, pervert!

Seinfeld 2.10: The Statue
The Premise
Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.

That living fossil ate my best friend!

The Meg (2018)
(SPOILERS) There’s a good chance that, unless you go in armed with ludicrously high expectations for the degree to which it's going to take the piss out of its premise, you'll have a good time with The Meg. This is unabashedly B-moviemaking, and if a finger of fault can be pointed, it's that director Jon Turteltaub, besides being a strictly functional filmmaker, does nothing to give it any personality beyond employing the services of the Stath. Obviously, though, the mere presence of the gravelly-larynxed one goes a long way to plugging the holes in any leaky vessel.

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

Never mind. You may be losing a carriage, but he’ll be gaining a bomb.

The Avengers 5.13: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station
Continuing a strong mid-season run, Brian Clemens rejigs one of the dissenting (and departing) Roger Marshall's scripts (hence "Brian Sheriff") and follows in the steps of the previous season's The Girl from Auntie by adding a topical-twist title (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum came out a year earlier). If this is one of those stories where you know from the first who's doing what to whom, the actual mechanism for the doing is a strong and engaging one, and it's pepped considerably by a supporting cast including one John Laurie (2.11: Death of a Great Dane, 3.2: Brief for Murder).

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

In my day, those even endeavouring to fly were accused of witchery.

Warlock (1989)
(SPOILERS) Hero REG? Scottish hero REG? This could only have happened before anyone knew any better. As Richard E Grant himself commented of a role Sean Connery allegedly turned down ("Can you do a SKUTTISH accent for us?"), "How could they have cast a skinny Englishman to play this macho warlock-hunter?" And yet, that incongruity entirely works in Warlock's favour, singling it out from the crowd as the kind of deliciously-offbeat straight-to-video fare (all but) you could only have encountered during that decade.

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Everyone creates the thing they dread.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
(SPOILERS) Avengers: Age of Ultron’s problem isn’t one of lack. It benefits from a solid central plot. It features a host of standout scenes and set pieces. It hands (most of) its characters strong defining moments. It doesn’t even suffer now the “wow” factor of seeing the team together for the first time has subsided. Its problem is that it’s too encumbered. Maybe its asking to much of a director to effectively martial the many different elements required by an ensemble superhero movie such as this, yet Joss Whedon’s predecessor feels positively lean in comparison.

Part of this is simply down to the demands of the vaster Marvel franchise machine. Seeds are laid for Captain America: Civil War, Infinity Wars I & II, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. It feels like several spinning plates too many. Such activity occasionally became over-intrusive on previous occasions (Iron Man II), but there are points in Age of Ultron where it becomes distractingly so. …