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Blu-ray Reviews: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Blu-ray 3D

Originally published in Sound and Image, Aug/Sept 2012, v.25#07
Last updated 24 February 2013

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2011 - Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgârd, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson and Geraldine James

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

There is no way that David Fincher could go wrong here. Having first made his name with Se7en, a dark movie about murder and twisted individuals was clearly right up his alley. He was the one to trust to at least match the Swedish original with an English language version.

I watched this Blu-ray with someone who had both read the novel and, like me, seen the Swedish version. Her pronouncement was that Fincher's was a markedly closer adaptation of the novel -- the original title of which translates to 'Men Who Hate Women' -- than the 2009 Swedish one. My pronouncement is that, aside from one thing, the new version is much better than the Swedish one.

In part it is David Fincher who seemingly knows how to deliver a properly paced mystery better than anyone presently making movies. But in part it is because of Rooney Mara. Good though everyone else is, this movie hinges entirely upon the titular girl. The only other time I've seen Mara is as the beautiful and wholesome girlfriend of Mark Zuckerberg at the start of The Social Network. Here she is utterly unrecognisable, far from beautiful most of the time, and anything but wholesome. Painfully thin, lost but in control, rage frequently oozing from her unbidden. Wow!

My one reservation with this movie version: there is no guarantee that the two sequels will also appear on film, made with the same main actors, and with the brilliant touch of David Fincher. This movie didn't make as much money as had been hoped.

So if you want the whole story (and I actually like the second and third Swedish movies as much as the first), then you have two choices for the full trilogy. The original release version from Roadshow Entertainment comes, on Blu-ray, to 429 minutes. But the extended versions, also from Roadshow, generally score higher bitrate encodes and come to 536 minutes.

But back to this disc. Or discs. The first disc contains the movie, and nothing but the movie (including its audio, commentary and subtitles and the associated menus). All this amounts to 45.84GB, which is some 98.4% of the capacity of a dual layer Blu-ray disc. Disc 2 pushes the boundary even more, to 99.52%!

That means that despite this being a fairly long movie -- 158 minutes -- it still scores a mighty 31.5Mbps average video bitrate. One other thing contributes to this: the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound track is encoded at 16 bits of resolution rather than the more common 24 bits. If anyone can both claim that the audio on this disc is anything less than fully encompassing and engrossing and accurate in any audible way, and claim that the 16 bit encode is responsible for any perceived deficiency, I will simply declare up front that I do not believe them. The sound was as wonderful as the picture.

And that was beautiful. Dark and stark much of the time, thanks to the snow of Sweden (where much of the shooting was conducted), but with beautiful textured interiors.

The contents of the second disc -- the one that is almost completely full -- are all 1080p24 and amount to well over four hours. Plus 167 stills, many of which demonstrate the subtle creation of some of the photos which are important to the plot. Plenty of stuff there.

Also well worth a go is the commentary track of the movie. This is by Fincher and is a fascinating insight into his thinking and his craft. He reveals that the making of a great movie, at least for him, seems to be a combination of planning and intention on one hand, and discovery of things that happen by chance or are introduced unbidden by the actors on the other.

Running time: 107 minutes
Picture: 1.78:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 23.99Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 24/48 3/2.1 @ 3254kbps (embedded: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps)
Subtitles: Nil
Extras: 2 Documentaries (1080p24 - 145 mins); Trailer (1080p24 - 5 mins)
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Region free

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.8:

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