Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

So last night I watched the movie: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" based on the book by the late Stieg Larsson. I have read the book (many months ago now) and its two sequels, just in case anyone wanted to know. And before going on, there ARE spoilers for both the book and movie in the following review.

Personally, I give the movie a B to B+. If you're like me and read the book, then watched the movie you will notice some differences between the two and be disappointed when some key points are missing in the movie.

For instance, Erika Berger is not blond (as far as I can remember). She was NOT described as looking her age at ALL. Furthering Berger and adding Blomkvist, there was absolutely NO mention of them ever being lovers or even knowing each other prior to Millennium. The first conversation she has with Blomkvist after the trial takes place JUST her and him, not with the whole newsroom.

Furthering character interactions, the conversations/thoughts showing that Armansky cares about Lisbeth do not take place at all. Armansky comes off as a boss and a boss only, not the type of person to care about the socially inept Lisbeth. They don't even go into the details of just how smart Lisbeth is or how organized she is about her work. All this comes to play in the sequels since Armansky would not have helped her in Books 2 and 3 if he didn't care about her.

The first scene with Vanger really did not make sense to anyone who had not read the book. Old man receives pressed flower, he starts crying. It doesn't go into why or how many of these pressed flowers he has until much later in the movie. Nor does the movie mention that he has called the chief of police every year a new pressed flower has arrived.

Also when Blomkvist does arrive on the Vanger scene, he's not asked to write the Chronicles of the Vanger family. He is only asked to find out what happened to Harriet. At the end of the book, Blomkvist says to Vanger that he won't write the chronicles and that he had been 'corrupted' (changed) since he cannot in good conscience write the chronicles without hurting Harriet and the Vanger Corporation. This plays a large part in why Blomkvist does what he does in the sequels. Furthermore, it is not mentioned that Lisbeth met Blomkvist prior to the email she sends him, hence why she likes him.

Going along with Lisbeth's development as a character, it is not mentioned that she got a tattoo after Bjurman raped her. Speaking of the rape (and I can understand why it wasn't in gory detail etc), the movie does not go into the fact that Lisbeth researches into why he actually did this to her. The movie does not mention that she takes the spare set of Bjurman's keys, nor does it mention she knows about his offshore accounts. It may not seem important but these facts show a lot of Lisbeth's character: her intelligence, attention to detail and, more importantly, her moral thinking. They also become a huge point in the other two books.

And a few last points, just because I don't want this to be too long and to give too much away:
There was no mention of Harriet gaining a percentage of the Vanger Company. Also, the most important bit: the movie does not go into detail of WHY Lisbeth stopped taking Blomkvist's calls.
Yes, she had fallen in love with him. So much so, that she completely cleaned her apartment (filled with year old pizza boxes, etc - also not shown). She even went out of her way to buy a Christmas present for him, something her character would not do (also not shown). When she went to deliver this present, she spotted Berger and Blomkvist together, trashed the present and decided to never see him again, which was not shown.

That last detail alone should have been important enough to include. Why? Because it becomes an integral piece of the plot (and to Lisbeth's character) in the second and third books. With all the lack of detail concerning Lisbeth's character, you really do not get her development or her actions.

The movie was good. It lacked key character development, but still good. If the viewer had not read the book, they would have rated it much higher. Don't get me wrong though, I understand a lot had to be cut out since the book is lengthy. But to cut out important development of the main female lead is cutting out a bit too much. It was saddening that I had to explain certain aspects of Lisbeth's character to those watching the movie with me who hadn't read the book. She did not come across as the genius 'researcher' that she is at all and that is a bit annoying.

In summery: the movie gets a B to B+ rating (three and a half to four out of five stars). If you haven't read the books, it will be entertaining (though a bit confusing in some places). If you have read the book, be prepared to spot the differences.

And a side note (going back on track to my own book): I'm still waiting on my own reviews. Hopefully I should get some information soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Technology - Good or Bad?

It is amazing when you stop and think for a moment about all the technology that surrounds us. Cell phones alone can browse the web, take pictures, store hundreds of numbers, record your voice and act as a miniature computer. Ten years ago, a cell phone on its own was a big thing.

Computers are now less than ten pounds, portable and have enough storage space a person can’t hope to fill it. Not to mention monitors are wide screen with such good quality you can count the stubble on a man’s cheek. Ten years ago, 250GB of memory was unheard of and only the very privileged could afford them.

Even cars are loaded with features a driver never fathomed ten years ago: DVD players, GPS, on-board road assistance and hands free calling. A person can literally get lost in the middle of nowhere and through their cars technology, find their way back home through multiple sources (even more so if they have a fancy new cell phone).

And don’t even get me started on video games. I’m a video game enthusiast and the graphics coming out now both amaze and frighten me. A friend of mine made the remark that while watching TV a few weeks ago, he saw what he thought was a live football game while channel surfing. He stopped and was amazed to find out that it was no real-life game. It was an advertisement for a new football video game.

And let us not forget to mention Project Natal, direct from Microsoft (Xbox). This Holiday season Microsoft will do away with the controller completely. That’s right, no wires nor handheld buttons smashing device. YOU ARE the controller, literally. Check out the Xbox website and search for Project Natal if you haven’t heard about this, it will BLOW your mind.

One has to wonder though, with all this technology, have we really benefited? I mean yes, we can never be lost. We always have a means of communication no matter where we want to go (depending on which service provider you’re with of course). Yes, we are entertained beyond belief. On the flip side, it’s said that this generation of children will NOT outlive their parents because of obesity. This is a direct result of 10+ hours of screen time a day. If it is that bad now, what will happen in another ten years?

If we made such leaps and bounds in just a decade; isn't it even slightly frightening to think about the next decade? Will we all have to be booked for brain surgeries to get a chip implanted in our brains for instant downloads? Will face to face conversation become a thing of the no-so-distant past? Will the new average weight be 20 pounds more because that’s the norm?

Personally, I would not want a chip implanted in my brain. I mean with hackers and viruses that could turn out to be very deadly and frightening (oddly I wrote a short story about this a few years ago, I should post it somewhere). So, where do we draw the line and say: “Okay, that’s enough now. We don’t need any more advancements to anything.” Will we even say that? I mean, how much further can we possibly go?

Only time will tell. I can only consider myself lucky. I’m old enough that I went from an old cassette player for portable music to a CD player and finally to an iPod. My first computer had 2GB of RAM and 150GB of hard-drive and came with Windows ’97. I got to see the advent of the iPod (and other ‘i’ devices) and the advancements in the computer industry.

Sure, it may not be as much of a leap as other people have seen, but considering all the changes of communication in the past decade, I’d consider it a lot. There are people being born today who will never know what a cassette tape (or VHS) is. Personally, I think that is a bit strange and creepy.

So for old time’s sake: break out the VHS player, throw on a cassette and dig out that old cell phone. Someone has to remember it.