Tuesday, January 4, 2011

弘曆 (Hónglì)

Number Seven: The Millennium Trilogy

OK, so I'm cheating with number seven. It's actually three movies. If they had been released in different years, I would have categorized them separately. And I'm not exactly sure that any of them would make the list in any average year. But as it is, all three movies were released in the US in 2010, so I'm ranking them this way.

First, I must explain what made me the most upset with the beginning of the first movie. I didn't see it. And it wasn't my fault, either. I showed up for a 5:15 movie at 5:10. When I bought my ticket, the ticket person told me that the movie had already started. I assumed this meant the previews were showing. Nope. The movie was already moving along when I made my way into the theater. I have since gone back to find out how much I missed. Even five minutes early, I missed the first five minutes. It's tough enough following a movie that I have to read, dammit. Luckily for all of us, I'm a smart guy and was able to figure out enough of what was going on.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was first, and it's a complete movie on its own. However, many of the elements introduced are brought back in the second and completed in the third movie. The movie starts by taking some time to establish the two main characters individually before bringing them together for the main story. I really like the way the characters' relationship was able to develop from that point on.

The basic plot of the movie is a mystery/thriller that these two characters are thrust into, and it's a pretty good story at that. But combined with the other two movies, this plot turns out to be simply a backdrop that allows Blomkvist and Lisbeth to establish their relationship. And it's a complicated relationship, at that. They are sort of lovers. They are sort of friends. As the trilogy expands, he turns into more of a father figure or guardian, make their relationship in the first movie more interesting.

The Girl Who Played with Fire tells us a lot more about Lisbeth's background. As we can easily tell from the first movie, she probably had a messed up childhood. This one confirms it as we start to meet her family. Blomkvist's part of the story starts and investigation that will lead into Lisbeth's family and give us more background for the third movie.

The second movie has a much faster pace than the other two movies. Looking back, it's more of a bridge between the two movies that a movie all to itself, as a lot of it looks back and forward to those. The faster pace, with a bit more action, makes it a better movie.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is mostly Blomkvist's story. Because of story elements from the second movie (attempted spoiler avoider there), Lisbeth takes a back seat for much of this movie. I found that to be rather bold since the movies are named after her character, though she does appear enough.

While each film is watchable and quite enjoyable on its own, the trilogy becomes a complete story. I didn't enjoy the first movie as much as I did after seeing all three, and that's a pretty strong feat for the filmmakers. To me, it's about these two characters and watching them grow through the movies. As I mentioned before, the second and third movie really brings back some of the storylines from the first movie that seemed like character development moments.

I definitely have a strong interest in reading the books. At the moment I have a pretty sizable stack of books that I want to get through, so I'm putting it off for the time being,as well as waiting for the third to come out of paperback. There is enough interesting action and character moments in the movies that I'm sure the books will be fun, and I'm curious to see what else I can get out of them.

I'm also hesitantly looking forward to the American versions of these movies. American remakes of foreign films can be hit or miss. My worry is that it's possible that it's being rushed, since the first one is supposed to come out at the end of this year. Also, I really enjoyed the two lead actors, and Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. The first movie is Rapace's showcase, and Nyqvist brings the third movie to a higher level. Daniel Craig? We'll see.

However, David Fincher is directing. With the exception of Benjamin Button (which I hated), he has a really solid résumé. In fact, his latest movie will show up on this list in a few days.

Once again, I'm not sure that individually, none of the three movies would have made the list, but together they are solid. So what about the American release? It's going to need to be really good to make it if only one is coming out this year. Forget the Oscars, Fincher. Your true goal is to make it onto my list.

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