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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (DVD)

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Genre: Crime & Thriller / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Daniel Alfredson / Actors: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Sofia Ledarp, Annika Hallin ... / DVD released 2011-04-11 at Momentum Pictures Home Ent / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      30.06.2013 08:48
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      An excellent conclusion to a strong trilogy

      The final film in Stieg Larsson's Girl series sees events reach their climax, Following a run-in with her gangster father Alexander Zalachenko, Salander is seriously ill in hospital and under arrest for attempted murder. Meanwhile, a massive cover-up is taking place to try and ensure that Salander does not make public the secrets that she knows. The only solution is to have her institutionalised in a mental asylum. Salander's friend, the crusading Millennium journalist is fighting to make sure that this does not happen and that the truth is told.

      Let's start with a caveat. You do need to brace yourself for this film since it doesn't provide any easy introductions. As you can probably guess from the plot summary above, there is an awful lot going on; lots of plot strands coming together, building on the previous films and you need to be on top of these. There is a (logical) assumption that you will have seen the earlier films and so know the various characters and their back stories. This is fair enough - after all, why on earth would you start with part 3 of a trilogy? However, even for people who have seen the previous two films (or read the books), the opening segment can be a little disconcerting.

      It's not that it's particularly complex or confusing, it's just that the film hits the ground running. There is no recap, no gentle introduction to what has happened so far; it starts from almost immediately where the last one left off. It's probably sensible to watch the three films more or less back to back. Otherwise you might find yourself floundering in the early stages, trying to remember what has happened previously and how all the various characters fit in.

      One thing that Hornets' Nest gets absolutely right is the pacing. Although it's the longest of the three films (over 140 minutes), it never feels like a chore to watch. In fact, I actually found it the best paced and most enjoyable of the three. The other two - excellent though they were - were slower and it seemed to take quite a while for not much to happen. This final instalment scarcely pauses for breath and crams an awful lot into its run time. Despite this, it feels neither rushed, nor overly crammed with too many ideas competing for space.

      Although some sub-plots have inevitably been lost and the richness of the original text slightly diluted, this is still a highly effective adaptation. It retains the same grim, gritty and sordid feel, it refuses to dumb things down or make the less pleasant elements of the plot more palatable. It retains the feel of Larsson's original book and sticks fairly faithfully to it without being afraid to make changes. Where changes to the original text are made, these work pretty well. They are not changes for changes sake, but a simple recognition that something that works in a book doesn't automatically work in a film.

      It's surprising how much tension the film manages to generate. Even when you have read the book and know how everything pans out, you are still on the edge of your seat. Nor is this limited to the ending. Every little minor victory Salander scores over authority has you internally cheering; every time she or one of her allies gets closer to the truth, you are willing them on. You will scarcely realise it, but by the end of the film, you will wound pretty tight because it has very effectively (but very subtly) slowly ratcheted up the tension throughout.

      It's good to see some of the more minor characters given more screen time, too. In particular, the other staff of Millennium have a bigger role to play and whilst they might not ever be quite as fleshed out as they are in the book, at least they are not as side-lined as they have been in earlier films. In particular, the dynamics of the working relationships within the Millennium offices are explored more deeply and it's interesting to watch the divisions between different characters.

      Having mentioned the characters, this is as good a time as any to talk about the acting which is uniformly excellent. Of course, you'd expect this from the main leads, since they are now into their third time playing these roles. Even so, Noomi Rapace is outstanding as Lisbeth Salander, giving her a depth, determination and vulnerability that perfectly captures the anti-social hacker from the books.

      Not far behind is Michael Nyqvist as crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist, the man determined to clear Salander's name. Whilst his motives for doing so are not quite as clear in the book, Nyqvist still creates a character full of vigour and determination, although it's slightly disappointing to note that the film occasionally reduces Blomqvist to someone who has to ask dumb questions for the benefit of the viewer.

      As noted above, an excellent supporting cast are given more chance to shine, and particularly worthy of note are Jacob Ericksson as Blomqvist's colleague Christer Malm and Anders Albohm as the suitably smarmy and arrogant Peter Teleborian.

      The reason all these characters works well together is because none of them seek to upstage the others. Whilst Rapace and Nyqvist might nominally be "the stars", they are not frightened to hand the story over and let other actors take the weight of the storyline for a while. It's this ensemble feel which really helps to make Hornets' Nest stand out.

      The DVD version of this film gives you the option to watch in Swedish with subtitles, or with an English audio dubbed over the top. Personally, I'd recommend the subtitles, since I think it's always preferable to hear actors speaking with their own voices, even if you don't understand what they are saying. For the most part, the subtitles are very good. There are a few places where white text on a white background causes a few readability issues and one horrifically mistranslated line (which you don't need to be able to speak Swedish to spot!) but on the whole, they are readable and capture the spirit of the dialogue well.

      Whilst it could never capture the depth and complexity of the books, this Swedish adaptation of the popular trilogy is a thrilling and fitting end to a long sequence of films. You will certainly benefit from watching the three films back to back (or at least close together), but at least you won't reach the end feeling that you have wasted 7 hours of your life.

      Basic Information
      ------------------------
      The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
      2009
      Director: Daniel Alfredson
      Running time: approx. 147 minutes
      Certificate: 18

      (c) Copyright SWSt 2013

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    • More +
      29.11.2012 16:46
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      Inferior of the three.

      Star - Noomi Rapace
      Genre - World Cinema Thriller
      County - USA
      Certificate - 15
      Run Time - 147 minutes
      Blockbusters - £3 per night
      Amazon - £.00 DVD (£Blue Ray)
      ------------------------------------------------

      Two months ago the people who run our libraries declared that 'Crime Fiction' had overtaken 'Romance' as the most taken out genre in their libraries by female members. Its writers like Steig Larsson with the Millennium Trilogy and a growing number of fabulous British male and female crime writers alike, from Ian Rankin to Ruth Rendell, pulling the women to the darker side of fiction before they do battle with public transport and sleep. Men are also moving away from traditional thrillers towards crime. What is it with the need to read about gruesome killings and cunning antiheros before bed?

      The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, or 'Luftslottet som sprängdes', as its known in its native Sweden, has that rather corny English title because the exact translation is 'The Castle of Air that was Blown up'? It's the final book/film of Millennium Trilogy, of which I have watched all three, the lead character being the troubled Lisbeth Salander (played brilliantly by Icelandic Actress Noomi Rapace), a modern day crime literature feminist icon, loved by teenage girls, tomboys and lesbians alike, a growing trend in contemporary cinema to have one of those in your movie. In fact the men hating misfit computer hacker is the book and if you don't fancy 412 minutes of her men hating then the trilogy is not for you.


      After the success of The Killing and Borgen, Scandinavian crime fiction is all the rage with the thinking classes around the world now and so expect a lot more of this to come on film, Jar City well worth a look. If you're not a subtitles fan then the Millennium Trilogy is currently being rehashed for Hollywood by none other than 007, Daniel Craig recently doing a rather enjoyable version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor - literally, men who hate women), a far sexier translation, Craig already signed up for the next two films after its solid box-office and Oscar nomination. American film fans don't bother with subtitles and so Hollywood simply remakes the ones they think can turn a buck by, and often ruins them, like Chocolate.


      ---Cast---

      Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander
      Tehilla Blad as young Lisbeth Salander
      Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist
      Lena Endre as Erika Berger - editor of Millennium
      Annika Hallin as Annika Giannini - a lawyer and sister of Mikael Blomkvist
      Sofia Ledarp as Malin Eriksson
      Jacob Ericksson as Christer Malm - photographer of Millennium
      Georgi Staykov as Alexander Zalachenko "Zala"
      Aksel Morisse as Dr. Jonasson
      Niklas Hjulström as Prosecutor Ekström
      Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann
      Anders Ahlbom as Dr. Peter Teleborian
      Hans Alfredson as Evert Gullberg - former head of "The Section"
      Per Oscarsson as Holger Palmgren
      Michalis Koutsogiannakis as Dragan


      ---Plot---


      We begin as Lisbeth (Noomi Rappice) and her devilish estranged father Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) are being airlifted to hospital by the cops after the showdown between the two at the farm house, the revelation of her father's real identity causing that showdown, the attack inflicted by her half-brother and fearsome hulking mute Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz).

      After emergency surgery the recovery for Salander tries to begin, the problem being the people behind the conspiracy from film two (The Girl Who Played with Fire) still want her and her estranged father dead and have some more bullets in the chamber for them, Zalachenko gunned down in his hospital bed, Lisbeth escaping her fete with help of handsome young Dr. Jonasson (Aksel Morisse), who barricades her in the ward room.

      The powers that be have decide to arrest Lisbeth for the farmhouse event and she will face trail on her sanity so the conspirators can lock her up in a mental hospital to silence her from what she knows, which means her good friend Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) will need to get into gear at Millennium Magazine and help her beat the rap.

      The plan is to let her secretly dictate her life story onto a mobile phone he has smuggled into her room via the young doctor so it can be presented in court as evidence, especially against a one Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom), the doctor who abused her as a 10-year-old girl in the same mental asylum and why she is so angry with the world today. If he can prove she is insane then he will get this evil way with her once again.

      When the magazine begin to dig deep into her conspirators lives its discovered that a long since deactivated secret organization buried deep in the SSS (Swedish Security Service), known as 'The Section', have reactivated themselves and it is they who want Lisbeth dead or locked up, a loose end because of her fathers nefarious activities. Fortunately the current SSS are willing to help Mikael bring the right people to justice this time and a plan is put into play as Lisbeth gets her strength back ready for her court showdown with the people who locked her up, a piece of damming video evidence her best chance, all this with the growing threat of the mute Niedermann also coming to kill her, and anyone who is unfortunate to get in his way.


      ---Result---


      I'm afraid it's the law of diminishing returns here and the third film the dullest of the three, which is not as negative as it sounds. The Girl and the Dragon Tattoo was refreshing as its hero whereas the last film really could have been encompassed in the first two in that it's that samey. I think the main problem is the narrative style and visual, feels more like one of those Scandinavian crime TV series and suited more to the box set or one night a week on BBC4. Saying that I enjoyed the first two films and so I was always going to watch the third and so it feels nice and neat to achieve that. I did wait until it was 99p in Blockbusters though.


      It cost just $5million to make as they clearly got production down to a tee and did $43 million back in European cinemas and the DVD to date, which would suggest the cast wages didn't rise that much after the success of the previous two films. Surely the actors where in a good enough negotiating position after the success of the first two films to demand more money, knowing there was no third film without them and everyone who watched the first two films would watch the last one anyway, especially the millions of fans who read the superior books to the film?

      If you watched 1&2 you're going watch this and it's just about good enough to compliment the first two. I'm glad I stuck with it as cinema needed a hero like Lisbeth Salander, as scary and unappealing as she is to men, but especially appealing reads for younger women, who made the books such a success they were. You do wonder what is going on in women minds to enjoy the crime genre so much. Anyone doing an English degree may want to look into that with their assigned essay.

      The films are violent but the director of the last two films in Daniel Alfredson backs off a little with the blood and guts from the superior first film. It's reasonably intelligently written although has none of the intrigue of the first two films. Noomi Rappice makes the role her own and convinces as the man-hating feminist, the sexual tension between her and Blomkvist, the only man she trusts in the whole wide world, an interesting film dynamic. All the men in the film are bastards, two dimensional and physically weak though. The film trilogy is for women and about women and that just sucks enough of the required macho DND out of the film to take the edge of its appeal to blokes. An exploding helicopter would have been nice. The trilogy is one huge kick in the nuts for men.




      ---Ratings---

      Imdb.com - 7.1 /10.0 (40,789 votes)
      Metacritc.com - 60% critic's approval rating
      Rottentomatos.com -53% critic's approval rating
      -----------------------------------------------------------



      ---Critics---

      The Guardian - 'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest doesn't exactly give the Millennium trilogy the explosive send-off it deserves'

      Film4 -'One final course of Euro pudding that may leave audiences feeling less satisfied than simply tired and bloated'.

      The NY Times - 'Feels like the concluding chapter it is, with neatly tied loose ends and closing remarks, though it unfolds as something of a secular passion play'.

      Australian Times -' While the least satisfying installment in the trilogy, this still throbs with a slow-burning tension and provides an appropriate farewell to a compelling series

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