Branagh WALLANDER BBC TV series vs WALLANDER Canal!!

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My first introduction to Henning Mankell’s detective Kurt Wallander is with the Kenneth Branagh helmed WALLANDER BBC series. I found those shows visually striking and emotionally intense. Only recently have I likewise become introduced to the earlier Swedish series starring Krister Henriksson (earliest episodes dating from 2006, with the latest episodes being in 2013).

There is a degree of fatalism and nihilism in the more slick and stylish BBC reworking of WALLANDER that is absent from the earlier Swedish television series. And I feel that that absence is to the earlier show’s benefit.

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While the Swedish series is no less a captive and mirror of the forlorn land it depicts, there is in the original series and in the captivating and world wearied yet bemused performance by Krister Henriksson a welcome sense of hope, of optimism even in the face of those who have forsworn hope. As such, despite or because of its understated nature, there is something more endearing in the Swedish WALLANDER, something easier worn.

Whereas the BBC version of Wallander is a different animal all-together. First its scale is far grandeur than the Swedish version, essentially each season comprised of three feature length movies, with approximately two years between seasons; 2008, 2010, and 2012 respectively.

Add to that Branagh’s wonderful portrayal of a man ever more broken is superlative. However that degree of depression can be taxing to view. To the BBC WALLANDER’s credit it is a distinct and different take from the Swedish version they were going for and achieved, so it can be viewed as its own thing rather than simply a remake.

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All that to say you can watch the original series and the BBC series and see two distinct and divergent shows, each deserving of your time. But if pressed regarding the version of Wallander that I enjoy the most, I would have to choose the Krister Henriksson series.

While the BBC version has amazing direction and cinematography, powerhouse acting by its lead Kenneth Branagh, and a wonderful score and introduction (reminiscent of the equally compelling LUTHOR), thematically I prefer the less angst ridden and less dire Swedish version. Its low-key delivery making for less hyperbolic viewing.

Grade: WALLANDER BBC series gets a grade of B/B+, and the CANAL Swedish version edges it out with a solid grade of B+.

Wallander Season 1 & 2 [Blu-ray] (This item requires a 1080i compatible player)

Wallander Series 3 [Blu-ray]

Wallander (Faceless Killers / The Man Who Smiled / The Fifth Woman) [Blu-ray]

Wallander Series 3 [Blu-ray]

Wallander: The Original Episodes, Set 1

Next up I’ll sample the Rolf Lassgard WALLANDER episodes and bring you my take on those.

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DVD Reviews: RED, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE UNINVITED

On the DVD front I recently watched the INTERNATIONAL, THE UNINVITED, RED, and the original Swedish language THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.


UNINVITED- This 2009 film, was the worst of the four. About a teen whose mom burnt to death in a fire, and her coming to terms with that, after being released from a mental ward. The first feature film by the Guard Brothers while it did have a nice twist at the end, by the time that came I was too annoyed with the characters, and the film to really care. Grade: D.

“Along with me I’m gonna need a scientist, an engineer, and of course, a black person to sacrifice himself in case something goes wrong.”
– Eric Cartman, SOUTH PARK, season 9, Cartman’s Hippie Exit Strategy 2006

RED- RED would have been okay except for one thing, the idiotic lets sacrifice/kill the ethnic character (Morgan Freeman) for no reason whatsoever. It’s the most egregious example I’ve seen in a film.

It was such a moronic death, that I just couldn’t believe the stupidity, I went through the film expecting, to find out it was some trick, the character was wearing a bullet proof vest and distracting them, and playing possum, and would turn up later in the movie.

But Nope. Basically Morgan Freeman’s character just decides to commit suicide for the white characters, when it was completely unnecessary.

I mean completely unnecessary.

We’re not talking the cool Jim Brown in THE DIRTY DOZEN type death, this is utterly unnecessary. When it was probably fifteen ways they could have all gotten out alive. Nope, instead the script just shoehorns in a ‘let’s kill the ethnic character’ scene. This Director, Robert Schwentke and Writers Joe and Erich Hoeber go on my list of incompetent and pedestrian filmmakers to avoid.

They should really be ashamed of themselves, and the fact that the writers wrote the upcoming BATTLESHIP, hints heavily at that being a film worth avoiding. All in all, the unnecessary cliche/stereotype ruined an otherwise okay action flick. GRADE: D-.


THE INTERNATIONAL- nicely filmed thriller, about an Interpol agent trying to bring down an arms running bank. Well filmed and enjoyable. B+.


THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO- It was better than I thought it was going to be, this tale of an investigation into a 40year old disappearance/murder. Well filmed, well acted, and both disturbing and thrilling. Not something I would feel any need to watch again, but a compelling viewing experience at the time. B.