I have been hearing so much about this series whether it is about the books or about the upcoming movie release. Those Swedes have already made their movie versions of this beloved series and it is all available on instant streaming. Let me give you the run down.
First of all, some things about the series. These movies are very European…..
1) in their pacing. Each movie runs 2 hrs 30 min plus and I feel pretty confident in saying they could have accomplished everything in much less time. Not having read the books I can’t be sure but, it seemed like they didn’t leave anything from the books out of the movies. Seriously, sometimes when converting a book you have to adjust and simplify and rethink how to tell the story but this version of the series seemed to just follow along to the entire novels plot line. I would not be surprised at all if the American version in much shorter.
2) in their sexuality. I am pretty sure that the American movies are going to be glazing over some of the umm… racier/ traumatic… plot points. These filmmakers obviously didn’t feel the need to be more low key about almost anything.
I started watching the first movie of the series with my husband and let’s just say only one of us finished it. This movie felt really disjointed from the rest in the series. I don’t know this but it seemed to me that the first book was written and liked so they created the rest of the series with that as the foundation. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows two separate stories for most of the movie. One is of Lisbeth Salander who is an internet savvy hacking genius, the other is of Mikael Blomkvist a journalist who was just convicted of…I’m not sure. Something about false reporting or something but it doesn’t really matter. He is asked to help solve a 40 year old murder mystery and his part of the story is pretty boring to be honest. Lisbeth’s story, on the other hand is quite compelling and the only reason you keep watching is to find out what is going to happen to her. The really interesting part is when their two stories come together to solve the murder. Actually, in a lot of ways, that is the most interesting part of the whole series. You want them together, they help each other. There are a few twists and turns but mostly typical stuff. Nothing that shocking or groundbreaking but I can see how it would make a good novel. And like most stand alone mystery movies it is all nicely wrapped up in the end.
This is where the whole series feel a bit forced. Now that everything was resolved from the first movie they have to go figure out how to make the story continue. Well, the second act is where it’s at. In The Girl Who Played with Fire they are able to explain Lisbeth’s back story and give her a depth that was left out in the first movie completely. In Dragon Tattoo she just seems harsh, cold, and silent for no reason. Now they try to give an explination. It feels a bit forced but what can you do? This movie has the most driving plot. Lisbeth is accused of a double murder and so she and Mikael (seperately) set out to clear her name and find the truth. The sad part about this one is that their seperate stories never come together again other than a few crossed paths. I kept thinking “Why doesn’t Lisbeth get Mikael’s help?!” but she just kept going on her own. This movie holds the most action of the series and has the most intrigue and interest. This movie also has a huge and harrowing climax that leaves you with a major cliffhanger. I am not positive but I think you could pretty easily start with this movie and not have missed too much of the overall story but skip the boring parts of the first movie. Plays with Fire has the most relevant title, is the best movie of the series, and I’m guessing best book of the trilogy.
I think the movies stayed true to the characters. Lisbeth said about 20 words in the last movie so I really don’t understand her motives or actions at all but I’m guessing that is how she was in the novel. This is the perfect example of why a straight conversion of book to screen doesn’t work. If her inner thoughts were how the reader felt close and understood Lisbeth then you need some way for that to be accomplished in the movie. Otherwise you assume that the viewer has more knowledge than they do and you lose them to indifference. You can’t only make a movie for diehard book lovers, unless you make movies in Sweden.