The second Swedish film adaptation in Stieg Larsson's hugely successful Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is coming out stateside on July 9.
So far early reviews are mixed, trending 55% on the Tomatometer. My trouble with the first two films is that the simplified genre approach renders the stories less compelling, more conventional. Yes, the two main characters do come through to a degree, as Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander team up again. This time, Salander is the framed target of an underground sex ring that Blomkvist's Millennium magazine seeks to expose. But the second book is such a great read; so much is left out of the movie, from Salander's money schemes and enhanced breasts to her various Alias-disguises.
The Playlist review equates The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with the The Da Vinci Code and The Girl Who Played with Fire to Angels and Demons. One set of movies is a letdown to Sweden, the other to America:
"It's more tolerable in a way, thanks to a fresher approach that streamlines the mock-seriousness of the enterprise in favor of innocuous cheap thrills. It's faster, sleeker and a lot more enjoyable than its predecessor, but mostly just a less offensive waste of time."
The rape and revenge-rape in Dragon Tattoo is more relevant to The Girl Who Played With Fire, adds The Playlist. In making Salander a target,
"the scheme to implicate her reaches so far up that it finally establishes this film trilogy as a satisfied genre exercise, and not the dead serious rumination on mankind the original film wanted to be."
Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman agrees: "this one doesn't just play with thriller conventions -- it puts them to work."
Check out a trio of women critics, EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum, Slate's Dana Stevens and Movieline's Stephanie Zacharek, talking Stieg Larsson movies and summer flicks in general on Charlie Rose.
Here's the trailer:
[Sophia Savage contributed to this report.]