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"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" {Blu-ray Combo pack}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Sony
Release Date:
Special Features:

Commentary by Director David Fincher, production, casting, location, promotional featurettes, DVD copy, Ultraviolet Streaming Code


Trying to adapt a novel after it's already been done by someone else (and done well I might add) can be a challenge; do you make the same artistic choices? If not, what do you change in your approach to the film? David Fincher's version of Stieg Larrson's novel The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is a rarity in Hollywood--it's a film that adapts the same source and is every bit as good (if not better) than the first version done. Since "The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo" revisits many of the elements that and types of characters that Fincher has tackled before the fact that he's able to bring a fresh sensibility to his own film is a major surprise. ***

We first meet journalist Mikal Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he loses a libel suit against the CEO of a major corporation that threatens to destroy his magazine, his life and his reputation. Blomvist receives a visitor who offers him a job that both will distract him and pay him well--it seems that industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) has been receiving birthday gifts from his neice who disappeared 40 years before. Vanger is sure that the killer is sending these gifts to him to disturb him and he wants Blomkvist to find out what happened to her. When Blomkvist needs an assistant the very girl who investigated HIM before Vanger hired him-- Lisbeth (Rooney Mara who gives a marvelous performance.) a disturbed but bright young woman. ***

The entire cast does a marvelous job of bringing the film to life on the screen; Mara in particular does a great job as Lisbeth rivaling the performance of Noomi Rapace who originated the role without copying her performance. Craig likewise brings his own unique interpretation to Blomkvist. Although we have a history with him as Bond and other characters that doesn't intrude on his performance here and, in fact, he plays against the ruthless, dark interpretation of Bond in finding the right tone for Blomkvist. Ultimately all of the actors here make the roles they interpret their own just as much as the actors who originated the roles in the previous version of the film. ***

A warning--the film EARNS its R rating with a brutal rape scene involving one character. This is a dark and foreboding film filled with a sense of dread early on (which isn't a surprise given that it's from the director of "Se7en" and "Fight Club"--I wouldn't count on Fincher ever tackling a light comedy). ---

Image & Sound: The transfer to Blu-ray is demo quality--blacks are inky and rich looking (particularly noticeable during the opening titles for the film)and detail remarkably sharp with unusually good depth as well. ***

The sound is spectacular with a rich lossless presentation.

Special Features:

We get an intelligent commentary track from Fincher discussing everything from the nuts and bolts of making the film to his approach to the material. Interestingly, Fincher was given the novel by producer Kathleen Kennedy before the original film version and Fincher never bothered reading it believing it would never be bought or opitoned by Hollywood. ***

The bulk of the special features are on the second disc for the Blu-ray set. ***

We also get exhaustive special features on the production of the film. "Characters" focuses on the three key characters of the film focusing on the casting with Lisbeth and Martin getting the Lion's share of featurettes (six)vs. a measely four for Blomkvist. ***

We also get a variety of featurettes on shooting on location in Sweden and shooting in the U.S.--these run roughly 100 minutes on the disc. A four part documentary also highlights the post-production and ADR process for the film. There is also a very good featurette on the creation of the disturbing main titles (which reminded me of a very vivid, disturbing Bond-like opening sequence interesting since Daniel Craig stars in the film). ***

The extras continue with a featurette on the promotional aspect of the film focusing on an "Inside Edition" styled TV program. It's both fascinating and hilarious as it manages to parody shows like "Inside Edition". ***

The third disc is a DVD copy of the film which has artwork to make it look like a homemade DVD-R with the title written in black marker across the top (as if Lisbeth had made this bootleg herself). It's a clever touch. The only extra on the DVD is Fincher's commentary track. ***

For those who hate Ultraviolet you can continue to hate it more as there is an Ultraviolet passcode included and that's the only "digital" copy available for this film to upload on your computer. My advice if you dislike Ultraviolet is (which has some severe limitations and issues for many people)is to carry around the DVD edition if you're going to watch it on your laptop (you're out of luck when it comes to an iPad or pad-like device as the Ultraviolet streaming edition is the only option and the coupon expires in 2013 on my copy).

Final Words:

"The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo" remains a rarity; a film that adapts a foreign novel that was already made into a movie previously AND creates a dread-filled film that equals (and in my opinnion surpasses) the previous version of the film.

Highly recommended.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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