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Day 56: 'The Girl Who Played with Fire'

Noomi Rapace in 'The Girl Who Played with Fire'On Day 26, after showing up ten minutes too late to catch the Bollywood hit Kites, I'd settled on a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which turned out to be a nice little surprise on my journey - an invigorating, foreign language cross between La Femme Nikita and The DaVinci Code.

Now comes the second film in the "Millenium" trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's bestsellers: The Girl Who Played with Fire. How does it compare? Having not read any of the books, I give it a solid "woohoo" squeal of approval. Although they've swapped directors for this installment (from Niels Arden Oplev to Daniel Alfredson), you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference. This is still the salacious, potboiler adventures of twentysomething punk heroine Lisbeth Salander (scarred by a lifetime of abuse at the hands of truly evil men), and the one guy - reporter Mikael Blomkvist - who hasn't tried to take advantage of her.

The first movie found our duo teaming up to figure out the dark mystery behind the disappearance of a teen girl four decades earlier. With that grimy, sordid exploit solved (and evildoers rightfully punished), this one catches up with Salander (played indelibly by Noomi Rapace) a year later as she returns to Sweden from a long vacation and is promptly implicated in three more murders. Blomkvist (the excellent Michael Nyqvist back once again) correctly assumes her innocence - and off we go...

Like its predecessor, this is a fast-paced thriller with lots of details and secrets revealed. It plays almost like a sophisticated, highly complicated version of "Scooby Doo," mixed in with familial revelations that you may or may not see coming, and the series' trademark flourishes of graphic, unblinking sex and violence.

When these movies finally become "Americanized" (high profile celebs with surnames like Clooney and Pitt have expressed interest), expect the dirtier details to be scrubbed away along with the trilogy's low-budget sheen. But that could be a disservice to the intent behind these books and films. They work exactly because they add traditional Hollywood elements to an unconventional setting. If "the movies aren't as good as the books" adage holds creedence, then the next step in translation is probably a bad idea.

But maybe I'm wrong? Fans of the books or the movies, let's hear what you have to say. If you saw the first Girl movie, are you going to see this one? Or are you skipping again in the hope that Hollywood leaves well enough alone? Sound off below!

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