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“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Wayne Klein
Studio: Music Box
Release Date:
Special Features:

Interview with actress Noomi Rapace, preview of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest”, Vanger Family Tree, previews


Based on the popular first novel in the so called Millennium trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson, this Swedish thriller which is on the road to a U.S. remake (that will probably ruin the film)focuses on a disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist in a marvelous performance)facing jail time for libel. Believing that he was set up, Mikael resigns from the newspaper he writes for and takes on an investigation into the disappearance of Harriet the 16 year old niece of a wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube)that occurred 40 years before. Assisted by Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) a woman with a troubled history who was hired to hack into Mikael’s computer, the two become partners and stir up a hornet’s nest as they dig deeper into the past and see a pattern associated with the disappearance of Harriet. ***

Larsson’s well written genre novels have taken the world by storm; it’s sad that he didn’t live to see the popularity of his three novels which he wrote in the hope of economic security after he retired from a position similar to his main character Mikael. ***

Niels Arden Oplev’s film develops the main characters quite well and manages the suspense which is the hat trick that directors often fail to pull off. A well made suspense thriller, Americans should be aware that the first half has different pacing from what we’d expect for an American thriller with the two strands of the plot not truly merging until after an hour. Nevertheless, the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” remains engaging, suspenseful and has marvelous performances by the lead actors and supporting cast. I’d suggest that American audiences might want to give this thriller a chance while it fails to fall into the explosive, loud mishmash of films that often pass for thrillers today in Amereica, it’s a marvelous film. ---

Image & Sound:

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” receives a nice looking if slightly flat transfer. There isn’t much depth but detail is quite decent throughout. The presentation has a nice film-like quality to it even if this isn’t the best looking transfer I’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong the film doesn’t look bad it just could have looked more impressive. Skin tones look natural throughout the film and colors are a bit muted which I’m assuming represents the theatrical presentation of the film as well. ***

The audio is fairly active particularly during the action sequences and serves the moody score quite well. Dialogue remains clear throughout whether you choose the Swedish dialogue track or the English dubbed dialogue which is actually quite good for a dubbed film avoiding the melodramatic flourishes that often accompany a foreign film with dialogue dubbed in English. ---

Special Features:

Unfortunately we don’t get a commentary track but we do get a nice interview with actress Noomi Rapace done by Anwar Brett in English that runs about 13 minutes. Rapace ‘s slightly accented English doesn’t require any subtitles and there aren’t any. She discusses her approach to the character including the kickboxing training and why the physical transformation of the character was important to portraying the character. Interestingly, she comments on how everyone in her country had an opinion about who Lisabeth IS so she had to close herself off in order to find the character in herself. ***

There’s a weird pop zoom in the middle of the interview as well as jump cuts that make the interview almost amateurish in presentation even though the questions and answers are pretty thoughtful. ***

We also get a five minute tantalizing glimpse at the sequel “The Girl Who Played with Fire” as well as the theatrical trailer for “Dragon”. There are also a variety of Music Box previews for other foreign films. We also get a “The Vanger Family Tree” for those who can’t keep track of all the characters. ***

Final Words:

While the film is a bit meager in the way of extras, the main thing here is the quality of the film and this is, indeed, a top notch mystery thriller.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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