Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Michael Reuben, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo Trilogy


    Imitating a familiar studio approach, Music Box released the second two films in the Millennium Trilogy in barebones editions containing only the movie and a trailer. Now they’ve released all three films as a box set with a “bonus” fourth disc of extras. The only way to get the bonus disc is to buy the box set. It should be noted that none of the extras on the bonus disc are newly created. All but one of the trailers are repeats from the previous discs, and the documentaries all date from 2009, when the trilogy was still being rolled out in Sweden.

    Studio: Music Box Films Home Entertainment

    Rated: R

    Film Lengths: 132 min., 129 min., 147 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 1.85:1, 1:85:1*

    HD Encoding: 1080p

    HD Codec: AVC (films); MPEG-2 (bonus disc)

    Audio: Swedish, English DD 5.1 (films); Swedish, English DD 2.0 (bonus disc)

    Subtitles: English

    MSRP: $79.95

    Disc Format: 4 25GB

    Package: 4 cardboard slipcases in box with 3D lenticular cover

    Theatrical Release Dates: Feb. 27, Sept. 18, Nov. 27, 2009 (Sweden); Mar. 19, July 9, Oct. 29, 2010 (U.S.)

    Blu-ray Release Date: Feb. 22, 2011

    *The outer packaging mistakenly lists The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest as 2:35:1, but the inner packaging lists the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The Features:

    The Blu-ray discs of the films are identical to those released individually. For discussion of each, including audio and video evaluations, please refer to the previous reviews:

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

    The Girl Who Played with Fire

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

    Special Features:

    All of the new material is contained on a fourth Blu-ray disc. It is unclear why a Blu-ray disc was used, because the bulk of the material is standard definition. Given the total running time, it could have been accommodated on a DVD (and, presumably, it is so treated in the DVD edition of the box set). In the alternative, the supplements could have been split between Fire and Hornet’s Nest, if those two films had been released on BD-50s.

    Documentaries. All of the documentaries are standard definition at 1.78:1, enhanced for 16:9.

    Millennium: The Story (48:57). Produced and directed by Lawrence Lowenthal in 2009, this is a biography of Stieg Larsson, starting from his authorship of the Millennium Trilogy and working backward to his childhood and career as an activist and journalist. It includes interviews with his editor, father, brother and various friends and colleagues, but not with Eva Gabrielsson, his partner and companion of over 30 years, who is still locked in legal disputes over Larsson’s estate. Also included are clips from the currently popular tours of Stockholm covering many real locations that Larsson included in his novels. These tours, and the novels in general, are credited with a substantial increase in Swedish tourism since the trilogy was published.

    Perhaps the most intriguing inclusion are rare clips of Larsson’s occasional television appearances, in which he spoke as an expert on hate groups.

    Interview with Noomi Rapace (19:36). Rapace is interviewed while being made up for what are clearly scenes from Hornet’s Nest. In response to questions from an off-camera interviewer, she talks about preparing for the role, her sense of Lisbeth as a character, the challenges of playing the same character for an extended period of time, and the difficulty of having so many scenes in which she is the sole actor. The interview is in Swedish with English subtitles.

    Interview with Michael Nyqvist (13:06). Interviewed at about the same time and in the same circumstances and format as Rapace, Nyqvist discusses his approach to Blomkvist and to the films in general. He also describes the casting process. He was cast first and then read with a number of actresses. As Nyqvist describes it, when he and Rapace read, it was obvious that they were the perfect match for these characters.

    Interview with Cast and Crew (13:59). A collection of conversations, some of them very brief. The cast members include Georgi Staykov, who plays Zalachenko; Micke Spreitz, who plays Niedermann; and Paolo Roberto, who plays . . . Paolo Roberto (he says he was shocked to find himself used as a character in Larsson’s fiction). The crew members are a random assortment of such individuals as the first assistant director, the stand-by props man and the steadicam operator.

    Niedermann vs. Roberto (9:43). On-set footage showing the stunt people and actors choreographing the elaborate boxing sequence from Fire, intercut with footage from the completed film.

    Trailers (HD). All of the trailers are by Music Box for the American release; none are for the original Swedish release. There are full-length trailers for all three films, plus teasers for Hornet’s Nest and Dragon Tattoo. Only the last item is new; the others can be found on one or more of the three film discs in the set.

    Posters. Images of nine posters are included, three for each film: the Swedish teaser, the Swedish release and the American release. The Swedish posters, especially the teaser for Hornet’s Nest, are often more intriguing.

    In Conclusion:

    If you don’t already own any of the Millennium Trilogy films on Blu-ray, this box set is worth considering, especially if it goes on sale. (The current price at Amazon is $46.99.) Despite my criticisms of the video quality of Fire and Hornet’s Nest, they’re eminently watchable and, when viewed together, form a satisfying whole. Indeed, after seeing Hornet’s Nest, I re-watched most of Fire and found it a better film. However, if you already own one or more of the individual discs, it’s hard to recommend a second “dip” for the box set. The new extras are interesting, but not enough, nor are they sufficiently numerous, to justify repurchasing identical Blu-ray movie discs. For that, Music Box will have to remaster the trilogy on BD-50s at a higher bitrate with lossless audio, deleted scenes, director’s commentary – the kinds of features that Blu-ray purchasers have come to expect at these price levels, because the competition generally delivers them.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player

    Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)

    Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough

    Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier

    Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears

    Boston Acoustics VR-MC center

    SVS SB12-Plus sub
  2. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

    Mar 6, 2001
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    I'm looking forward to seeing the second and third film in this set.

    The first film (and presumably the book on which it was based) was too derivative of (dare I say plagiarized from) the French film Crimson Rivers (starring Jean Reno) to really enjoy, but if the others are more original, I'm in.
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Jul 6, 1997
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    Steve Tannehill
    Thanks for the review. I am still holding out for the miniseries versions to be released on blu.
  4. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator

    Jul 31, 1997
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    Cees Alons

    You mean the original TV miniseries, don't you?

    I'm waiting for those too! The box seems available on Amazon Germany, but very unfortunately only in a version with German-dubbed audio. I suppose you too would want the original Swedish (with English subtitles), just like I do.


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