Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:
Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:
Certainly these two are also interwoven. For example, the second part fills in important back-story for the first. Pay attention, especially if you don't understand Swedish, as you will have to carefully read the English subtitles.
The Millennium trilogy was Swedish author Stieg Larsson's legacy, and oh what a legacy. Unexpectedly dying at just fifty, the three novels he had submitted for publication were released soon afterwards, and have since sold close to thirty million copies. All this is spiced by the fact that, like one of the two main protagonists, Larsson was himself an investigative journalist sometimes in fear for his life, and his personal circumstances left behind a mess, with his girlfriend, his brother and father, and even the former Swedish Communist Worker's League, having a stake in his unexpectedly rather valuable will.
Meanwhile, a Hollywood remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in post production. It wouldn't warrant mention here, except that it was directed by the excellent David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network).
In the present movies, the journalist is played by Michael Nyqvist, and the girl of the titles is acted by Noomi Rapace. She is by far the most interesting character, with motivations that are at first obscure, and with an exceptionally free spirit. The intricate stories revolve around her and her uncertain background. As a heroine goes, she is highly unusual with flexible sexuality, the titular tattoo and many piercings. But she verges on being a super-hero when it comes to finding out things.
The movies, overall, struck me as quite similar to high quality BBC spy/crime drama. Gritty and convoluted, they still maintained interest. The only real problem I had was at the beginning. Subtitle-wise at least, the exposition at the start of Dragon Tattoo was quite clunky. This is delivered by a reporter explaining the conviction of our hero the journalist for libel. Apparently you go to jail for that in Sweden.
Perhaps it's me, but reporting to a Swedish audience, in Swedish, that 'The Swedes have never ...' something or other, just doesn't ring true. How much are we, when viewing a foreign language movie, in the hands of the translators and subtitle generators? Enormously, it seems.
All the acting and other movie-ish attributes of the movie were at least competent. Nyqvist's acting was good, and Rapace's even better, but the standout was Lena Endre, who played Nyqvist's colleague and occasional lover. She was simply brilliant.
As you'd expect, the video is presented in proper 24 frames per second 1080p format. It is a real 24fps, rather than the 23.976fps more common to Blu-ray, so it exactly matches display cinema. Roadshow has stuck them both onto single layer Blu-ray discs, which are limited to 23.3GB. The first instalment runs pretty long, to 153 minutes, so the video bitrate ends up at meagre 15Mbps (the second movie is 19Mbps).
Those responsible for mastering the discs seem to have avoided using filters to achieve this, so the picture quality in both movies is a fair representation of that shown on the original film. This involves a fair bit of grain. Focus is variable in parts, especially in the latter where some scenes must have come very close to being rejected for lack of detail, but overall it is perfectly watchable on the large screen.
The sound is presented in losslessly compressed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It was solid, but I found my reaction to it odd. I simply didn't draw much involvement in the movie from the sound front (except for a couple of jumps cued by surprise noises), due I think to the Swedish dialogue. My attention was focused too much on reading the subtitles, tuning out the sound.
Those subtitles were clear and conveyed all the necessary information, although in the second movie they clearly omitted words and phrases where it was presumably judged that context would give the necessary information.
But were I a Swede, I would be a trifle irritated that the English subtitles are impressed -- that is, they were part of the film print that was scanned for transfer to Blu-ray -- rather than included in a Presentation Graphics stream. If they had been, they would be capable of being switched off.
The following video bitrate graphs were generated by BDInfo 0.5.7: