The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

Steig Larsson’s family is claiming that he wrote a fifth book, a sequel to The Millenium Trilogy. The series was supposed to be made up of ten parts. Larsson supposedly skipped book four because five was going to be more fun to write. With this knowledge, it’s easy to wonder if The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest will really be the last we see of Lisabeth Salander, and her unlikely knight in shining armor. Either way, director Daniel Alfredson took the film as an opportunity to wrap up any and all loose ends. Unfortunately, this means Hornet’s Nest is about fifty minutes longer than it should have been.

Alfredson also directed The Girl Who Played With Fire, and neither of the his two entries are a strong as the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Neils Arden Oplev. But Hornet’s Nest is most certainly the weakest in characters and plot.

A large portion of the beginning of the film literally just moves from hospitalized person, to hospitalized person. It’s an extended series of shots of people in hospital beds. And while film three she should certainly continue where two left off, Lisabeth having taken several bullets, one to the head, and her having put an axe in her father, I think that the filmmakers had an obligation to keep this thriller, a thriller.

After the hospital stays, which are dramatized by the plottings of several, very, very old men (literally just a few steps away from death by heart attack, or kidney failure) to kill Salander. Their ailments save our unorthodox heroine from premature death, but it only serves to keep her safe until her trial where her institutionalizations, and violent actions against her father and half-brother may put her away forever.

The trial, and preparation for it, are the most unbelievable aspects of this film. Lisabeth refuses to answer a single question during any and all depositions, she dresses even more flamboyantly than before, even dawning the eye makeup of Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange. A nod, among many, that Lisabeth isn’t so much an individual any more, but a pale reflection of her idea of what you shouldn’t be.   This is, instead of what we should see, the result of  years of abuse and being trapped in the system. Ultimately, the trial comes down to men versus women. I’m not sure why Larsson hated men so much, but he did. Lisabeth, and her lawyer (the very pregnant sister of her journalist friend Michael Blomkvist) sit there, representing victimhood and maternity, across from a probably well-meaning, but dumb prosecutor, and a male doctor lying about her mental state.  He also happens to be a pedophile and rapist. As if the audience didn’t get it, they’re treated to flashes of Lisabeth being raped in the first film, again, by a man who should have been her advocate.

Of course, this is the moment that the film, and virtually the whole series was meant to lead up to: where all the lies are exposed, and the perpetrators are punished. Alfredson was extremely conscious that he was in charge of the money shot. And he milked it for well over a half an hour. A half an hour that could have been removed and the film wouldn’t have missed a beat. Remember in The Dark Knight when you thought things were coming to a close, but there was actually another hour left? Same thing here.  After the trial (which results in the only way anyone would expect), there’s still quite a bit film left that really, except for the most ardent fans of the trilogy, seems totally superfluous, and self-indulgent.

In the end, there’s a certain amount of gratitude owed to Hornet’s Nest for wrapping up all those loose ends. But, in turn, it’s owed a certain amount of frustration for going about it in such a clumsy and lethargic manner. If there is a fourth movie, let’s hope Alfredson won’t be in charge.

★★½☆

Review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Review of The Girl That Played With Fire

Comments
3 Responses to “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest”
  1. Arnita Hampton says:

    I never knew that there was a trilogy, that being said I was glued to the movie from beginning to end. The movie stood on its own merits. I plan to see the other two as my schedule permits.

  2. Arnita Hampton says:

    I submitted your review with the proper citations as part a class assignment. Your critique was the most honest and accurate that I read. We have to choose a movie we would like the class to view, then post an external review in the hopes that it will be chosen. I have a few questions if I may….
    1. What do you think Director Daniel Alfredson or another of his peers could/should have done in order to merit five stars?
    2. Is it possible to complete the other films in spite of the author being regrettably deceased?
    3. How is it that so many film critics are not pleased with this film while viewers who may or may not have seen the other two films love it?

  3. Blake says:

    @ Arnita – I’m flattered by your comments. Thank you for reading. I would very much like to read the assignment submitted to your professor if you get the chance.

    I’ll attempt to answer your quesitons.

    1. Alfredson had a responsibility to fans of the books, and fans of film in general. He’s meant to merge the two mediums and satisfy the requirements of both. I admit, he satisfied those that require a trilogy wrap up all loose ends and give a finality to a story. But when it comes to the art of film, he sacrificed pacing and character development to do so. We can’t forget that this series falls under the genre of thriller. Larsson’s book’s are nearly considered pulp fiction. Despite having too much material to fit in the average ninety or hundred and twenty minute run time of movies, Alfredson needed to consider the film as a stand alone expression.

    2. You can never underestimate the film industry when it comes to sequels. Particularly if the original films make huge profits in American and worldwide. Considering the fact that David Fincher is in charge of the American remake, it’s likely the film will turn a huge profit, In turn, this will probably encourage sequel movies, regardless of who the director will be. Once the trilogy is finished, the studio may feel there’s more money to be made. This can be seen with the Bourne films (continuing on after Matt Damon has left), and the Indiana Jones franchise.

    3. There is frequently a disparity between the way a film is received by audiences and by critics. The most obvious and recent example I can think of is the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The ratings aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a critic’s approval rating of 13% (a dismal 7% from top critics). While 81% of “average” viewers marked that they enjoyed the film. Other examples include the Transformer movies, which despite having universally awful review, make enormous sums of money. This, I think, can be chalked up to the reason people go see movies. Critics are looking for new, artful expressions through the medium. While the general public often go see movies for explosions, special effects, or for escapism.

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