TV Series Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy

by Steve Lancaster4/16/17
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson  •  You may be familiar with the 2011 movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. The movie was adequate but not engrossing. There is a much better and much more interesting series available on Netflix. This is the original Swedish series starring Michael Nyquist and Noomi Rapace. This may be the best thing to come out of Sweden since IKEA. However, be forewarned the books are about 500 pages each and the series is six installments, each about 90 min and in Swedish with subtitles. By the time, you have watched all six installments you understand more Swedish than you ever thought you could.

Lisbeth Salander, (Noomi Rapace) is not the usual heroine you expect in a novel or a movie. She is antisocial, secretive, and extremely distrusting of any authority. She is less than one hundred pounds, a skilled boxer, black arts computer hacker, and has an eidetic memory. She works off the books for a Copenhagen security company. She has been deemed by medical professionals in Sweden to be incapable of running her own affairs and is under guardianship. Her skills with computers and self-defense she keeps hidden.

Mikael Blomkvist, (Michael Nyqvist) is the editor/publisher of a crusading (leftist) magazine specializing in uncovering injustice. Blomkvist is involved in a liable lawsuit that he is about to lose and will send him to jail for several months. Upon his conviction, he leaves his magazine and takes a job researching the disappearance of a young girl forty years earlier. The girl’s uncle has hired the security company that Lisbeth works for to check up on Blomkvist. It is Lisbeth that makes the report. From this point on the stories of Lisbeth and Mikael intertwine. Lisbeth discovers, but does not reveal, that Mikael did not liable; that his story not only was truthful, but only skimmed the top. She agrees to become Mikael’s researcher to discover what happened to the missing girl.

The story involves a father/son serial murders, Nazis and corporate malfeasance; and of course, Blomkvist and Salander become, for a brief time, lovers. The lost girl is discovered in Australia. Blomkvist does his time in jail and Lisbeth gives him the information to bring down the man that he was convicted of slandering. Lisbeth uses her computer skills to steal several million dollars from the man Blomkvist was accused of slandering. It turns out he was stealing not only from the Swedish government but also from the Mafia.

The next, two books and four installments of the series involve Lisbeth more than Blomkvist. We discover that Lisbeth had been sent to a psychiatric hospital for setting her father on fire. Not without justification, he regularly beat her mother. We discover her father was a Russian KGB officer who defected to Sweden and is now involved in smuggling, drugs and women. His activities are covered up by a secret group in the government. It is this secret group that arranged to send Lisbeth to the psychiatric hospital, and take away her rights. Lisbeth ends up on her father’s farm, where he attempts to kill her and she returns the favor. Both end up in the same hospital.

The group decides the best action is to silence Lisbeth and her father. A plan is started to kill them but only the father is killed. Lisbeth is charged with attempted murder of her father at the farm and a trial date set. As time for the trial is coming, Blomkvist is investigating how the group has kept Lisbeth subjugated and the conspiracy that continues to seek to keep her imprisoned. He plans to publish an entire issue exposing the conspiracy the first day of the trial.

The trial and the subsequent arrest of the group and acquittal of Lisbeth brings to conclusion all that Larsson wrote. Sadly, he passed away before he became famous.  There is a follow up novel, by David Lagercrantz, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. It is worth the read if you enjoy the characters Larsson created. Noomi Rapace has gone on to other movies most notable is Riddley Scott’s, 2012 Alien prequel, Prometheus.  • (746 views)

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10 Responses to TV Series Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve watched as least the first part of the trilogy. And I think it was the Swedish version. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Daniel Craig version because I would have remembered his stiff acting.

    Whatever the case may be (and I’m not just hedging my bets), I don’t remember much about it.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    This sounds rather complicated, and in any case we don’t get Netflix. But having a father/son serial killer combo reminds me of a book by Michael Slade the featured someone with 4 multiple personalities, each a serial killer. (A fifth existed only to switch back and forth from one personality to another, and was the only one aware of the others.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Honest to God (especially on this Easter Sunday), I remember almost nothing about it. That’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing. But right now I’m working my way through Season 1 of “Babylon 5.” Now I remember why I never watched this but a friend loaned me the DVDs and I’ve dedicated myself at least to the first season. This is stuff that is done by third-tier actors with material aimed at the 13-to-17-year old age or mindset. But I’ll see if it grows on me.

      The only halfway decent characters are Michael O’Hare as Commander Sinclair and Andreas Katsulas (the “one-armed man”) as G’Kar. The rest are the kind of thin characters that made both “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” such a mess, although DS9 had a better share of good characters such as Quark and Odo.

      Sadly, Michael O’Hare suffered from the increasing symptoms of schizophrenia and voluntarily left the show. Bruce Boxleitner was written in as the new commander for the second season onward. This is tragic because of the personal toll on O’Hare but also because he was about the only actor there with any gravitas. But his performance cannot (at least so far) make up for the rest of the cast of blandness, particularly the truly awful Claudia Christian as Commander Ivanova. The only other character worth noting so far is Otter as the aid to the over-acting Peter Jurasik as Londo. But I’m sure 13-year-olds think he is da bomb.

      I don’t believe I’ve run into Jeff Conaway (Bobby Wheeler) as Zack Allan yet. Sadly as well, this apparently was a second chance for him after some drug problems, but those problems apparently recurred again and he died.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Babylon 5 has some good moments, and some that are awful. On the whole the 3rd and 4th seasons are the best. Some of the space battle effects are pretty good for TV of the time. I choose to think of the characters as representative of Europe between the wars and the final battles as WWII with Babylon 5 as Great Britain. But that metaphor can only be pushed so far.

        If you watch carefully you will see a number of actors, some on the way to obscurity and some, like Brian Cranston, just starting out. On the whole it is entertaining if you suspend credulity.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          What reignited my interest, Steve, is that I caught an episode on free TV about 3 weeks ago. Boxleitner was taking a young emperor under his wing. He seemed like a nice kid but some future-seers said that he was going to be a monstrous dictator and needed to be killed pronto. That cmdr rejects this fatalism and reaches and teaches the kid some lessons that look like they will stick.

          Thru six episodes of season one, not a one has been even a halfway original story. Perhaps better is prophesized to come.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            Brad, I suggest skipping the rest of season 1, season 2,3 & 4 are the heart of the show, especially season 3.

            I suggest season 3 Number 4-“Passing Through Gethsemane” with guest star Brad Dourif, one of the most unregarded character actors of our time, and directed by Adam Nimoy, yep Spock’s son.

            Harlan Ellison’s influence is much less in the later seasons and the scripts are much better. Ellison is a great writer of fiction, but does not have the personality for a long term project.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Skipping the first season is likely good advice. But because the friend who I borrowed the disks from has subsequent seasons and said that I ought to get grounded in the back-story of season one, I’m going to tough it out, Steve. But your advice seems sensible. And I had no idea that Harlan Ellison had anything to do with the show.

              But I did finally run across an adequate episode in season one. It was titled “Mind War.” [A rogue telepath with exceptional powers takes refuge on Babylon 5, and two PSI Cops arrive to capture him.] One of the PSI Cops is Pavel Chekov. The episode has two main stories in it which I think makes it a little more varied and interesting as they switch between the two. One is the commander’s on-again, off-again girlfriend visiting a planet that G’Kar warns is not safe. She presages “Vash” from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is obvious that Deep Space 9 stole its overall concept from Babylon 5. And Vash seems a dead ringer for Catherine Sakai played by the Singaporean Julia Nickson.

              The other story features a good guest star (William Allen Young) who is a telepath who volunteered for “enhancement.” Well…the enhancement, for all intents and purposes, is turning him into some sort of demigod. The main telepath on Babylon 5 (Talia Winters played by Andrea Thompson) is an old friend and attempts to help this man who is being hunted down by the PSI Cops.

              Nothing particularly groundbreaking with either plot. But they’re done fairly well and are well-acted. Andrea Thompson is fighting above her weight in this otherwise mediocre troupe of actors. And, as it occurred to me at the end, this episode was completely devoid of the over-acted character of Londo Mollari, he of the fan-brush hair. This helped immensely.

              So six episodes into this and they have one decent episode. I’m not sure how they ever got to a second season.

              The stories of Ellison and Star Trek are legendary. He co-wrote (one could say merely “advised” because of the amount of revisions it took to adapt his story to the Star Trek universe and television) “The City on the Edge of Forever.” As you know, this is considered one of the best Star Trek episodes, if not the best. But Ellison hated the finished product because they changed so much of his stuff. I don’t know what they changed but the finished product was pretty good and the stories I’ve heard suggest that this man was a prima donna.

              Time travel is a much over-used scifi gimmick. This is one case where it worked well.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Harlan Ellison doesn’t like cardboard heroic characters. So apparently he had a lot of the Enterprise crew going into the past and getting involved in unsavory activities. It may have been a good story, but it wasn’t suitable for Star Trek.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Thanks for the info, Timothy. I have no problem with temperamental creative people (or I’d have to hate myself). But a guy has to be able to take a certain amount of criticism and be able to collaborate. Still…let’s say I was a writer for Star Trek: Voyager. I’m sure they’d hate all my ideas. That would sort of be a badge of honor though.

                The anti-hero thing explains a lot. That is at the heart of liberalism/materialism. The only things that are real are the unsavory and the ignoble.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If you wonder how Sweden and other European countries came to hold the view of multiculturalism to suicidal extremes, you should catch a glimpse of episode 7 of season 1 of Babylon 5: “The War Prayer.”

    Long long story short so that I don’t bore you: On earth there is an “Earth First” organization who doesn’t like aliens taking their jobs or even being on the planet at all. No background at all is given if there are real concerns. After all, the very premise of the show is that Babylon 5 is trying to facilitate aliens not making war on earth or each other. The series takes place 10 years after the Earth-Minbari war — a war itself that has an embarrisingly stupid libtard theme to it (humans are always at fault), and I quote:

    The Earth-Minbari War began in 2245 when an Earthforce expeditionary fleet destroyed and heavily damaged other supporting vessels in the Grey Council’s fleet, killing the Minbari leader Dukhat. The Human fleet commander misinterpreted the Minbari warrior caste’s tradition of approaching a ship with gun ports open as hostile action and fired on the Minbari vessels without provocation, from the Minbari’s point of view.

    Sort of shows all the smarts of the alien in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Maybe caution would be better….don’t approach unless your meaning is first clear.

    But I digress. Basically the message of this episode is: Only bigots harbor anything but unconditional kumbaya emotions for aliens. Sweden and other countries are starting to live the dream. Death by Hirjah. Might there be reasonable concerns about outsiders? No. You can have none. This is such a childishly simple-minded episode. But it was effective in indoctrinating the culture and/or acting as an echo chamber for these ideas.

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