Film Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

Perhaps I watched this movie too soon after finishing the book, as I found myself noticing more about what was not included in the movie than what was actually in it.

As such, I struggled a little with this movie.  It’s not that it wasn’t enjoyable, it certainly was: having established the characters so well in the first movie (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), even some of the minor characters from that film, it was like settling back in to watch a favourite TV show when it’s new season airs.  It also hurtles along at a fantastic pace and has moments of tension and action that grip you even after having read the book.

But there was something lacking for me; the casting of Ronald Niedermann, the blond giant, didn’t live up to my expectation and his character had seemed to have been developed from the hulking almost retarded character in the book to someone of intelligence.  Supposedly Dolph Lundgren was offered the role but turned it down.

There were other aspects that differed from page to screen, but none to get too excited about and they would probably seem tedious differences to most people.  I even think on another day I might not have noticed as many differences; perhaps it was my frame of mind at the time.

The Swedish versions of the movie are much longer and, although the cuts made for a wider audience probably suit the pacing of a shorter movie, the original version may be more suitable for those that have read the book and feel the need to see more depth to the story.

Incidentally, this movie and the third movie in the Millennium trilogy (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s nest) are directed by Daniel Alfredson, replacing the director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Opley and perhaps it is this that made the overall vision seem like an expensive TV movie rather than an out and out feature film.  It also seems that the handling of the exposition through accumulated data, documents and dialogue is a little clumsy in comparison to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

There is no doubt that this director had much more difficult source material; another problem that the film has to circumvent is that the plot is essentially about the past of Lisbeth Salander and whilst that may be easy to represent in the novel, it is much more difficult to represent on film.  The film also suffers because the characters whose relationship and chemistry helped make the first movie so gripping (Salander & Blomqvist) spend the majority of the movie apart.  

Noomi Rapace excels once again as Salander and the US version, which has already cast Rooney Mara in the role, will have to go some way to removing Rapace from my perfect vision of Salander.  

There is nothing about this movie that puts me off seeing the trilogy completed when The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest reaches our screens, but this is a weaker movie than the first.  It still works, but I think that a lot of that is down to the leniency with which I watched it having seen the first movie and read the first two books; it’s almost as if I am willing it to be good.  If I were watching this as a movie without having read the books or seen the first movie, I don’t think I would have been so forgiving.

 My Rating: 3/5


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