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Movie Review

I can’t help but think that the reason why we Americans are getting Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy novels a year behind the rest of the world is to give Hollywood time to prepare their own version of the movies. But if you don’t want to wait, the Swedish version of the first installment is in theaters right now. I went to check it out this weekend, and here’s what I’ll tell you.

Noomi Rapace as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Noomi Rapace as The Girl With
the (very sexy) Dragon Tattoo

Normally, I’m quick to advise against the Americanized version of a foreign film, as they tend to range from the unnecessary (Insomnia) to the offensive (Vanilla Sky). But even though this film is Swedish like the book, it’s still an adaption, and one without the benefit of the author (Stieg’s dead). So what’s the draw? Why bother?

It’s hard to predict what the American version will be like, but at least it will be filmed in English, meaning you won’t have to scan between the subtitles and picture. It’s also certain to have prettier actors, though I’m not sure I’d list that as a benefit. Me, myself, I am always excited by a movie where the people look like people, not like the plastic mannequins that line Sunset Boulevard. Not that Noomi Rapace is hard on the eyes, mind you. She’s a bit of a crime, really, being far more attractive than the character described in the book.

No doubt the biggest difference will be in realization of the book’s theme. A literal translation of the original title would be, “Men Who Hate Women.”movie poster -The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo In the Swedish movie, this is realized in a fair number of shocking scenes (right out of the book) that I can’t imagine any American producer signing off on. This violence, and how women deal with it, was the whole point of the book. We should expect, however, that like the original title, it will be lost in translation. So if you’re hoping to see the book faithfully realized onscreen, it’s probably worth living with the subtitles.

That said, perhaps the best argument is that the Swedish version is both good and in theaters right now. Considering how terrible this summer’s movie line-up has been so far, that alone should be a winning argument.
Noomi Rapace as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

If you were thinking perhaps of bonding with the father or son this Santamas season by seeing a movie about football, you might consider a movie that is actually about football and not, as the case would be, We Are Marshall.

No, We Are Marshall isn’t about football any more than Apocolypse Now was about Vietnam. It’s merely a convenient setting in which to tell a different story. Like in this case, one about people who cry a lot.

Really, crying. No amazing passes. No astounding plays. No last minute, make this touchdown and win the woman/trophy/respect of your fellow inmates. The few football scenes are more about bringing someone to tears than playing the game. In this movie, if someone isn’t tearfully shouting “We are Marshall,” then they’re crying.

All that happens in the bulky two hours and seven minutes of We Are Marshall is everyone cries. Almost every story arc in the entire movie is just the progression of a character from a non-crying one to one that does cry. The talented Anthony Mackie cries every fifteen minutes, often with declarations of how much pain he’s in over the loss of his teammates. Matthew Fox and Ian McShane get to save their crying to the climax of the movie. Oh, wait: Their crying is the climax of the movie. In fact, the only person who doesn’t cry is Matthew McConaughey, who, in some drive to win an Academy Award, seems to have stapled his lip half shut. He uses what’s left of his mouth to continually and rapidly spout that right-thing-to-say-and-also-funny-and-insightful dialog that is falls just short of the realism one experienced in For the Love of Benji.

Now it’s appropriate, mind you, after such a tragedy as one witnesses in We Are Marshall to cry. But do you really want to go and spend both time and money to watch his useless cryfest? Couldn’t you just just pop your own popcorn and then break your nephew’s favorite new Santamas toy? At least then you could sit in a comfortable seat.