Monday, July 12, 2010
It's been a while, and I'm bored, so I thought I might get off my hindquarters and do a review. This time, it's another compare and contrast. The subject? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by the late Swedish crime writer, Stieg Larsson.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
Thankfully, for fans and converts alike, the film is pretty true to the plot of the book, but it takes allowances that only prove to make the film better, rather than butchering the heart out of the story. This is how a book to film adaption should be made. Take note.
So, for those of you who haven't popped your "The Girl" cherries yet, here's a pretty basic plot summary.
Henrik Vanger is an industrialist with a terrible secret. Every year on his birthday he receives a pressed flower in a picture frame, similar to the ones he received from his favourite niece, Harriet.
The problem is, Harriet has been missing, presumed dead, for the last forty years. Henrik is certain that her killer is taunting him and seeks resolution, finally.
He contacts disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to solve the forty year old mystery and put Harriet's mystery to rest. Blomkvist moves to the family's island and uncovers some dark secrets, and calls upon the help of master Hacker, Lisbeth Salander. What they uncover is shocking, hut-wrenching and heart-breaking all at once, and proves to be one of the most thrilling crime novels of the past decades.
So screw you, James Patterson.
The film, like I said, differs only slightly from the book, but everything is tied together nicely, and heightened from the superb performances from Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist.
The highlight of the tale, of course, is the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander. Noomi Rapace is captivating in the role, taking the character wholeheartedly and convincingly. In a superb performance, I'm sure this woman will go a long way after the franchise is finished. She holds the screen magnificently, and never shies away from the hard-core nausea inducing scenes, while maintaining the character's cynicism and indifference, coupled with a hatred of vulnerability that makes Lisbeth so hard faced, yet kick ass.
The film travels smoothly from one scene to another, no apparent plot holes to fall into and stunning aerial shots of Sweden. There is great Chemistry from the entire cast, and even the most vile characters are portrayed to perfection.
I was sceptical about watching the film. Not because I thought it would be bad, quite the contrary, I knew it would be excellent as reading the book is like reading a script, once the embezzlement and logistics are over (thank god for pg 42 onwards, or else I think I would have cracked up). My problem is subtitles. Shock and or horror.
Foreign films are fine; They're actually pretty cool most of the time, but as a glasses wearer and, let's face it, an easily distracted person, I thought the subtitles would take away from the film.
However, for the subtitle phobic, the DVD does offer a dubbed audio, which was helpful, but I decided to try the subtitles and be done with it.
I wasn't sorry.
The dubbed version takes away from the film. I watched ten minutes on dubs, and felt two things;
1) I thought I might be having a stroke.
2) It reminded me of one of those old Bruce-Lee flicks.
I hate out of sequence dubbing, so Subtitles were the way to go with this.
I'll get over my aversion to them eventually....I hope. Definitely in time for the sequel, The Girl who played with Fire, die out August 24th. (Same day as Mockingjay. Mark your calenders.)
The film is phenomenal. A non-stop, thrill a minute thriller that doesn't seem to drag, surprisingly, even when nothing consequential actually happens. I hold this solely to Noomi Rapace as the beautiful, broken, dangerous and damaged Lisbeth Salander. Definitely one for a Saturday night in, or any night in for that matter.
Now, here we go.
How does it compare to the book?:
Like I said, this is how an adaption should be. True to the source material, and the only changes are the ones that have little or no consequence. Thankfully they got one thing totally right, and if they didn't, the film would have been an unmitigated disaster.
Lisbeth is, without a doubt, one of the most captivating and compelling protagonists in literature. She's completely crazy, there's no questioning that, but she is able to rationalise everything she does, and you believe her. She's a certified genius, but she's broken. You can tell just by what she says and how she reacts that she was hurt in her life, and how every little thing can affect her differently to how you would expect. She doesn't react how you expect her to react. She doesn't think like you expect her to think. It's refreshing.
I loved Lisbeth. Especially with the tattoo gun.... not a spoiler, just brilliant. She's resourceful and just plain old awesome of the highest order.
The book drags a little more than the film does, but that's to be expected from a 480 page book. I thought I would hate it from the beginning, as all there was was business this and conspiracy that and blah blah blah. The Lisbeth came and the fun began to start and I couldn't put it down.
This is a book for everyone who enjoys a good mystery, but not for those of a nervous disposition. Everyone I know who has read it has had the same adverse reaction to a particularly grizzly scene involving a budgie. Don't ask, just read.
Intrigued? You should be. If not, I probably didn't do this justice, but trust me on this like you trust Baz Luhrman on the sunscreen and Chris Nolan with a film.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is sure to become one of those novels that transcends generations and timelines, and like Harry Potter and a Picture of Dorian Gray, will be around forever.
If you like this...:
Let the right one in,
Don't say a word,
Just general crime capers.
TV: Castle.....Just watch it, it's awe....quite a bit!
The millennium trilogy, obviously.
The Sean and Michelle books by David Baldacci (Split Second, Hour Game, Simple Genius, First Family)
Promise me by Harlan Coben,
Possibly John Connolly books like The Lovers, I'm not a huge fan, but maybe for other people.
and for the YA enthusiasts:
The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.
(Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow-Kissed, Blood Promise and Spirit Bound. Last Sacrifice the final installment, due out in November, and not soon enough!) Rose Hathaway is the coolest female protag. to grace YA literature, fact. And the rights to the series have been purchased by Perger who are pitching to companies as we speak. It really is the King among the Vampire Lit. Genre, at least in YA terms, but it's amazing, check it out.
The Glass Demon by Helen Grant.
Creep little mystery that has me turning the pages as we speak.
Down the rabbit hole by Peter Abrahams.
Apparently, this is one of Stephen King's favourite books, which is funny since he doesn't like anything, so if it has his stamp of approval, it's pretty good. It's a simple small town mystery, and a thirteen year old girl who is adamant to discover who killed Crazy Katie, and how she may have led the police in the wring direction by withholding evidence. This was pretty good. I liked it, and I couldn't put it down. It's very simple, and that's not a bad thing. I liked it, I'm not sure why. If you've read it, maybe you can understand, but it's eluding me.
and of course...
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Best way to describe this is a post-apocalyptic Battle Royale meets Running man based in America. It's incredible, fast paced and "unputdownable"--That's such a stupid word, but appropriate for now. Just read it, love it and never doubt my judgement again. Due out next year. Director to be announced in the next few weeks. Chris Nolan and Matthew Vaughn for the win, methinks.
Well, that's all folks! I'm tired, not exactly coherent, and completely rusty, but like they say, that's showbiz!
Until we meet again and other such placating sentiments....