AFTER seeing the complete Swedish film trilogy spawned by Stieg Larsson’s international best-sellers, I feared the material would be too familiar for the Hollywood version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (18: Sony) to be successful.
But my visit to Cineworld to catch David Fincher’s film was certainly worth the effort as the director of stylish thrillers like Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac managed to make it feel fresh.
And the DVD, available from April 23, has nearly four hours of well-worth-watching extras, including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
In the story that just won’t stop, Rooney Mara replaced Noomi Rapace as computer hacker antiheroine Lisbeth Salander and her performance earned her an Oscar nomination – one of five that the film picked up.
Daniel Craig gives a restrained turn as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the murder of his grand-niece nearly 40 years ago.
As he and Lisbeth get closer to the truth in the remote north of Sweden, they find their own lives in danger as they uncover a complex web of corruption and conspiracy.
Fincher really makes the story his own, concentrating on the themes of sex, sadism and power so common to his work. The screenplay is superb, capturing the essence of the book in a pared-down script as sparse as the beautifully shot frozen landscape.
Despite the occasionally dodgy Scandinavian accents, this is taut, gripping film-making and it certainly won’t be the last we hear of Lisbeth Salander.
> That well-worn film genre, the hostage drama, receives an unintentionally daft addition with TRESPASS (15: Lionsgate).
Nicolas Cage, directed by Joel Schumacher, plays a wheeler-dealer diamond broker, while Nicole Kidman is his wife.
Four masked criminals break into their high-tech home and demand the contents of their safe. At first it seems a straightforward robbery, but the situation forces the couple to examine the secrets they are hiding from each other, while the intruders are also driven to reflect on the events that have set them on this course of action.
Trespass is an over-the-top riot of increasing craziness, with stupid plot twists and pointless flashbacks.
The characters are so cardboard you could make cereal packets from them, yet it’s also entertaining in a silly, turn-your-brain-off sort of way.
> Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has been involved in more than 20 films since his football career ended, the pick of which is the excellent Looking For Eric, in which he played himself.
But he turns detective in the thriller SWITCH (15: Anchor Bay), which certainly doesn’t deserve to be kicked into touch.
A Montreal magazine illustrator (Karine Vanasse) heads to Paris for the summer and her idiot grin as she swans around the city is enough to tell you it’s all going to go horribly wrong.
On her first morning in an apartment that she has taken through a house-swap site, she’s overrun by cops. They discover a headless corpse, her photo in a passport in the actual owner’s name and her fingerprints all over the murder weapon.
A charitable person would describe what ensues as Hitchcockian. If not they might call it laughingly preposterous.
Cantona, as the detective, Damien Forgeat (above right), who gradually comes to believe her, offers a refreshingly ego-free performance. Either that or he finds it hard to break out of monotone.
The shlock factor rises with every passing frame, but at least it’s never boring, though whether it needs quite so many shots of Vanasse’s unclad breasts is open to debate.
> THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1 (12: EI) is the first half of the two-part conclusion to the romantic fantasy series, with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
Peaceful vampire Edward marries his human girlfriend Bella, who is soon pregnant. But the existence of this child has dangerous implications and a pack of werewolves is determined to prevent the birth.
> In MERCENARIES (15: Kaleidoscope), starring Billy Zane, a military coup results in the assassination of the Serbian president.
Eastern Europe is on the brink of collapse and a wanted war criminal raids the US embassy and kidnaps the ambassador and his aide.
The decision is taken to send in a team of mercenaries to carry out a top secret rescue mission.