The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2010) movie poster

(2009) director Daniel Alfredson
viewed: 02/21/11

The finale of the Swedish-produced adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s ultra-popular series of novels, known as “the Millenium trilogy” but perhaps are best known by the first novel’s title, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), has arrived on DVD.  “Millenium” is the name of the fictional magazine owned and operated by Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist in the films and assumed to be roughly based upon Larsson himself).  But the center of the whole thing is the character of Lisbeth Salander (played very aptly by Noomi Rapace in each of the films), and so to refer to the series through the name of the magazine seems much less the point than its primary creation,  the girl with the dragon tattoo on her back.

It feels like ages ago, but it was just a year ago that I read the first book, that I saw the first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  And then I read the second book, and more recently saw the second film, The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009).  And with an American re-make of the original film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo due out toward the end of this year, starring Rooney Mara and directed by likely Oscar-winner David Fincher, this thing is far from over.  But the Swedish series has finished and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is the end.

So, I was too impatient to wait to read the book.  I didn’t want to read it in hardback, had no idea when it was due in paperback, and in the end, found myself not caring enough to slog through the tomes.  I was glad to finish the series with the final film.

But the film really is not all that.  Maybe the book isn’t either (I’ve read as much).  The film starts with Salander with life-threatening injuries, sustained at the end of the prior film.  She spends a huge portion of the film in the hospital, healing, not doing a whole hell of a lot.  The film’s intrigues unwind in a courtroom, villains are white-haired elderly dudes and Salander’s German automaton half-brother, who is no personality and all brutality.  While Blomkvist runs around with stuff happening and drama and action, it’s really the dud of the series.

Borderline boring.

The best character in traction, the finale bereft of surprises, the film ties up its loose ends, but to little effect.

Larsson died prior to the publication of the books, their exponential popularity, and the films, perhaps before the books were even properly edited.  He was apparently working on a fourth novel at the time of his death.  So, this wasn’t necessarily “the end” to his trilogy.  His trilogy wasn’t necessarily a trilogy.  But that’s what we’ve got.  And like I said, ending on a point of dull anticlimax.

If you want my real opinion, the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was the best of the series (as was the film).  The convoluted back-story that Larsson developed for Salander in The Girl Who Played with Fire was interesting, especially if you were taken enough with her to want more.  But the latter two books could have been boiled down into one perhaps.  This final installment just feels extraneous, and while it does bring closure to things, it’s a 2 1/2 hour struggle at closure that really isn’t very satisfying.

At the moment, I somewhat dread the American re-makes.  I mean, David Fincher is a better director than either of the Swedish film-makers who made this first series.  But Noomi Rapace nailed the character.  It feels like it’s been done.  And Nyqvist as Blomkvist seems more apt than the ripped Daniel Craig.  I am very tired of the series.  I am tired of it all.  Especially after slogging through this final film.

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