REVIEW: Let Me In

Let Me In
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Matt Reeves (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (book)
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, and Elias Koteas

Cinema purists (this one included) were dreading the inevitable day they would have to sit through an American remake to the beloved Swedish film Let the Right One In. It was the vampire movie that didn’t suck, and we’d be damned if Hollywood was going to take that away from us with a big budget redo with A-list stars. Some watchers would never let this one in; never consider the possibility that it could be good.  They’d be missing out.

As it turns out, Let Me In is a surprisingly competent remake of the excellent Swedish version.  Like so many other films, this one originated in literature, though the films are more widely known.  Matt Reeves, known mostly for Cloverfield, takes the story from Sweden to Reagan-era New Mexico.  A seemingly odd choice, but setting it in a desert during winter effectively recreates the barren Swedish landscape so vital to the mood of the original.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Directed by: Daniel Alfredson
Written by: Jonas Frykberg (screenplay), Sieg Larsson (book)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Georgi Staykov, and Lena Endre

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is one with her computer, an ideal that this Swedish adaptation of the Swedish bestseller makes all too clear by framing a close-up of her eyes and projecting the screen she sees over them.  It’s an indelible, near-iconic image, and the film’s sole upstaging of the book.

The weak link in the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first book in The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was that it broke the suspense of the serial killer investigation by becoming almost as emotionally detached as its troubled heroine.  Salander is the undeniable strength of both the books and the movies.  Larsson has noticeably more invested in penning her part of the story, and both directors (Daniel Alfredson in this movie) have clearly had a ball unraveling her tale.

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REVIEW: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Written by: Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg (screenplay), Sieg Larsson (novel)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Peter Haber, and Sven-Bertil Taube

No matter how many times it happens, it is always a disappointment when a movie adapted from a book doesn’t live up to its source material.  It happens too often, usually because it’s trying to please the fans or just doesn’t translate well as a movie.  Neither of these are the problem with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it’s that the wrong things were cut and not enough was condensed from the 600 page novel to keep a film viewer engaged.

For all of its narrative bumps, the chief success of this movie is capturing the grotesque and demented sense of discovery you get reading Stieg Larsson’s best-seller.  It follows Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a disgraced Swedish journalist who leaves his self-financed magazine Millennium to help it survive his blighted reputation.  He is contacted by Henrik Vanger, an aging business tycoon  looking to tie up his loose ends.  He wants Blomkvist to help solve the 40 year old murder of his niece Harriet.  Blomkvist retreats to the island where the murder takes place, and where all the bitter Vanger family/suspects still reside.  Aided by the hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace),  Blomkvist embarks on a treacherous investigation that puts them on the tail of a serial killer that may or may not have killed Harriet.

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