Reviews of LasseMajas detektivbyrå — Von Broms hemlighet (2013) and related work

LasseMajas detektivbyrå — Von Broms hemlighet (2013) IMDb

Seen in 2020.

It starts with a hopscotch dungeon crawl and ends with an ABBA cover on the occasion of getting the money to restore a church. In between, most of the backgrounds are CGI, including completely smooth cobblestone floors where the greenscreen shadows fall flat. The low-budget VFX is particularly harmful to a stunt sequence where the child detectives walk a beam as it’s lifted by a crane; there is no sense of action to it. The priest is a pathetic figure. Inverting an anecdote about the titular character of Samuel (ca. 620–500 BCE), she believes she’s hearing Yahweh when she isn’t.

I picked out the villain from the start. As is to be expected, their motivation does not make sense; as a 14th-generation organist janitor, their only aim is to protect that heritage, and yet they pawn their family ring to pay for building repair, thus forfeiting said heritage while also proving they aren’t actually privy to it. Despite all that repair work and 14 generations of prior maintenance, nobody had found the gold spread throughout the church in steampunk machines. This is an example of insultingly self-contradictory writing for children masquerading as a festive use of the imagination.

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LasseMajas detektivbyrå — Tågrånarens hemlighet (2019) IMDb

Seen in 2020.

The script is worse than Von Broms hemlighet but the production values are a lot higher; about as high as Landstormens lilla lotta (1939) by the look of an off-screen car crash. There’s more on offer for adult viewers like me, roped into it by a couple of nieces. The AGJ train is nice, but the anachronisms are severe and unamusing: It’s mostly 1930s to 1950s, but with the gender and ethnic diversity of 2019, a NES controller and a robot autopilot whose sound design plagiarizes R2D2, which puts it “a long time ago” in the future. There’s a cartoonish action sequence that suggests the creators would have been better off doing animation, but they relish their big-name actors to a fault. The post-credits gag alluding to Bo Holmström’s frenzied reporting from the West German embassy in 1975 makes for a nice send-off, cryptic to children on multiple levels.

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