The Morning After: May 7, 2012

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I've seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I'll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I'll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Avengers

The film's four protagonists have each found a set up in a unique and interesting film, eliminating nearly all need for character development in the big screen teaming of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans). Yet, director Joss Whedon still manages to build those archetypes with the skill of an experienced storyteller.

Teaming to defeat Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who's threatening to unleash holy hell on earth and become its greatest ruler using a mystical trans-dimensional device that will allow him to pull a massive army through space and time to destroy earth's inhabitants. The only problem is that the four super-powered Avengers have vast clashing personalities to deal with. Until they can learn to set aside their differences, earth's fate will rest precariously in the balance and Loki, the god of chaos knows this all too well.

Whedon spent years on television where he honed his craft as a director and although the little-seen Serenity, a big-screen adaptation of his ill-fated television series Firefly only developed a minor cult following, here he had the opportunity to share his uncommon blend of popular excitement with character development and complex plot elements to create a fantastic big screen super hero adaptation, one of the best yet made.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish)

Before writing my full-length reviews for the David Fincher version, I wanted to see how the Swedish original handled the material. And since I've completed the novel as well, I can firmly say that the Fincher version is the overall better adaptation, but the Swedish version has its charms.

The film is about a disgraced journalist (Michael Nyqvist) hired to write the family chronicle of a wealthy industrialist family whose patriarch has an ulterior motive: investigate the disappearance and likely murder of his niece Harriet who vanished 40 years before. Unlike Fincher's version, director Niels Arden Oplev drops the family history aspect entirely and focuses solely on the murder investigation. The differences are quite vast, but both have charms that should engage an audience to root for the protagonists.

One of the scenes that carries over for all three films is the one in which Lisbeth Salander (here played by Noomi Rapace) threatens her government-appointed guardian with the video tape she made of him raping her. This scene plays out similarly, but feels more organic in Oplev's version. Also, while Fincher takes some liberties with the novel's more tedious aspects, Oplev does something similar, but eliminates nearly all hints of sexuality for Blomkvist. In the book, he gets involved not only with his publisher, but with one of the members of the Vanger clan as well as Salander. Oplev dropped both the Vanger and publisher affairs leaving only the confusing dynamic between him and Salander.

As Oplev's film came first, it's hard not to appreciate all the elements it tried to blend in and how it successfully managed to tie certain elements to the book and sequels without feeling obvious. Fincher makes Dragon Tattoo an almost too-stand-alone product.

My Week with Marilyn

This is the full-length review for this film.

Click here to read the review

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