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David Fincher
Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Robin Wright
Writing Credits:
Steve Zaillian

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

Box Office:
$90 million.
Opening Weekend
$12,750,000 on 2,914 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 158 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 3/20/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director David Fincher
• “Men Who Hate Women” Featurette
• “Characters” Featurettes
• “On Location” Featurettes
• “Post Production”: Featurettes
• “Promotion” Features


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 11, 2016)

After the Oscar-nominated success of 2010’s Social Network, director David Fincher could’ve taken a break. Instead, he hopped right back on the horse for 2011’s high-profile The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

An adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s hit book – one that already got made into a well-regarded Swedish film - Tattoo introduces us to journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). The Swede co-owns a magazine called Millennium and comes upon dark times when he loses a libel suit.

In the midst of this, Mikael hears from retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). The elderly businessman’s grandniece Harriet went missing decades earlier, and Vanger suspects a member of his family killed her.

Vanger hires Mikael to use his talents as an investigative journalist to finally solve the crime. Troubled computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) comes onto the job as well, which means she and Mikael form an unusual alliance as they attempt to get the information Vanger requests.

More than for any other modern filmmaker, I’m completely in the tank for Fincher – and for good reason, as he rarely falters, at least not in a severe manner. Of Fincher’s nine features, 1997’s The Game remains the biggest disappointment, though much of that stems from its chronological placement in his career. The Game followed 1995’s Se7en, a masterwork that remains Fincher’s greatest achievement, so almost anything else he did would fall short of it. Almost 20 years later, The Game remains flawed – largely due to a terrible ending – but I can now appreciate its strengths.

2008’s Curious Case of Benjamin Button stands as Fincher’s only true failure – not because it’s a terrible movie, but because it’s a dull movie. Fincher branches out to take on Tim Burton territory and he flops, as he just can’t do whimsical.

On the other hand, Dragon Tattoo feels like something right up Fincher’s alley, as it often seems moderately reminiscent of Se7en. While the movies come with many differences, they still deal with murder and depravity, so Tattoo seems ripe for Fincher to knock it out of the park.

Unfortunately, the film never really gets going like it should. Nothing about the movie fails, as it remains moderately watchable, but it rarely becomes more interesting than that.

I think the main issue stems from the main plot, as the depiction of the search for Harriet lacks much urgency or drama. To some degree, this makes sense, as this area delivers a bit of a MacGuffin. Mikael’s investigation exists more to expand character areas and to connect him with Lisbeth than as an intriguing mystery of its own.

Nonetheless, the lackluster nature of this element leaves a small hole at the heart of the movie. Mikael and Lisbeth expend a lot of energy on their pursuit of the truth, much of which the audience greets with a relative shrug. When the movie finally reveals Harriet’s fate, the result seems less than absorbing.

Tattoo works better when it invests in the Mikael/Lisbeth relationship. Mara received a justly-deserved Oscar nomination for her performance, as she gets the more challenging character by far.

Lisbeth needs to be credible as a border psychopath but also display enough humanity for the audience to bond with her. Mara achieves this without ever asking the viewer for sympathy. She maintains the role’s rough edges and still allows Lisbeth to develop a little softness, factors that make the movie’s coda heartbreaking – and the most effective aspect of the flick.

Otherwise, Tattoo leaves me a bit cold. I can’t say I dislike the film, but I think it feels a bit half-hearted, as though Fincher felt he needed to make it as a career move more than anything else. It’s not bad, but it’s closer to the bottom of Fincher’s filmography than to the top.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus A

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image seemed satisfying.

Overall sharpness appeared good. Some interiors could be a little soft, but the majority of the film displayed nice clarity. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws caused no distractions.

In terms of palette, the movie tended toward a mix of blues, greens and yellows. This meant we didn’t see much visual variety, but the hues looked fine given the constraints. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated good clarity. I expected a positive transfer and that’s what I got.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, music ruled the day. The score filled out the room in a bold manner that used the whole spectrum well.

Given the chattiness of the movie, effects played a modest role. These components went with environmental material, some of which became moderately involving, such as during snowy sequences or those on streets/trains. The track wasn’t super-involving, but it fleshed out the story well.

At all times, audio quality was positive. Speech appeared concise and accurate, without edginess or other concerns. Music came across as lively and full, and effects were fine for what they could offer. Because the track didn’t do a lot beyond music and speech, I didn’t think it merited a grade above a “B”, but it still satisfied.

This package includes a slew of extras, most of which reside on Disc Two. Disc One offers a single component: an audio commentary from director David Fincher. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the opening credits, music, editing, cinematography, sets and locations, story/character/screenplay areas, cast and performances, effects, and related domains.

A veteran of the format, Fincher offers a typically strong commentary. Granted, he tends to tell us what he loves a little too often, but he compensates with more than enough good data about the film. Fincher covers a solid array of topics and does so in an open, informative manner.

As we head to Disc Two, we open with a six-minute, 40-second featurette called Men Who Hate Women. It includes notes from Fincher, screenwriter Steve Zaillian and actors Daniel Craig, Joely Richardson, Steven Bergoff, Rooney Mara and Stellan Skarsgard. “Hate” offers some reflections on the popularity and appeal of the Girl books. This could’ve become fluffy, but it actually delivers a smattering of insights.

Under Characters, we get a mix of elements, each of which relates to specific roles. Salander, Lisbeth offers five featurettes: “Casting Salander” (15:42), “Different in Every Way” (5:32), “The Look of Salander” (14:06), “Mara/Fincher” (4:09), and “Irene Nesser” (6:25). In these, we hear from Mara, Fincher, Craig, Richardson, Zaillian and costume designer Trish Summerville.

We learn how Mara got the part and her approach, aspects of Salander, costumes, hair and makeup, the Mara/Fincher working relationship, and the “Nesser” character. These pieces mostly work well and give us good thoughts about the Salander part and Mara’s efforts to bring her to life.

We also find “Salander Test Footage”. This runs two minutes, 53 seconds and lets us see Mara’s early take on the character. The snippets probably should’ve just been incorporated into the featuretttes, but they’re still fun to view.

Next we shift to Blomkvist, Mikaeland three more featurettes: “Casting Blomqvist” (6:44), “Daniel Craig on Film Acting” (3:31) and “Dressing Blomkvist” (2:56). These offer comments from Craig, Fincher, Zaillian, Summerville, and Mara. These clips follow the same topics found in the “Salander” programs, though without as much detail. That’s not a complaint – Blomqvist is less interesting than Salander – and the segments provide more useful material.

“Investigation” provides stills that come in four domains: “In the Cottage” (37 frames), “Anita in the Window” (13), “Harriet at the Parade” (16), and “Vanger Newsletter” (14). These let us see close-ups of props and other details. They offer a mix of intriguing tidbits.

“Characters” finishes with Vanger, Martin and its five featurettes. We see “Stellan Skarsgard on Film Acting” (3:13), “Psychopathy” (6:11), “Bondage” (5:29), “Torture” (4:09) and “Wrapped in Plastic” (4:37). In these, we hear from Skarsgard, Fincher, Zaillian and director of photography Jeff Cronenweth.

Expect more content similar to what we found in the prior two collections, though we get more behind the scenes footage than usual. It’s another good collection of segments, especially when Sarsgard discusses his approach to the role.

“Vanger” concludes with “Set Design”, another package of stills. These look at “Hedestad” (22), “Vanger Estate” (17), “Vanger Attic” (30) and “Harald’s Den” (18). Expect another fine compilation.

On Location splits into two areas. Sweden gives us five featurettes: “Stockholm Syndrome” (17:54), “Stockholm’s Tunnelbana” (6:24), “Fuck These People” (6:03), “The End” (11:58) and “Picture Wrap” (6:53). These deliver comments from Fincher, Cronenweth, Mara, Zaillian, Craig, Skarsgard, line producer Malte Forsell, and actor Goran Visnjic. As expected, these pieces look at aspects of the Swedish shoot. With good insights and plenty of footage from the production, these add value.

Under Hollywood, we get seven more components: “Casting Armansky” (4:44), “Armansky Audition” (6:42), “Thinking Evil Shit” (5:09), “Rape/Revenge” (16:52), “Int. Blomkvist’s Cottage” (5:42), “Int. Martin’s House” (7:39) and “Int. Salander’s Apt.” (2:40). Over these, we hear from Visnjic, Cronenweth, Fincher, Mara, Summerville, Zaillian, Craig, Skarsgard, and actor Yorick Van Wageningen. These continue the topics found in “Sweden” and give us many more nice notes. Even the “Audition” works better than usual, as it offers other perspectives as well.

This takes us to Post-Production and its four pieces: “In the Cutting Room” (14:23), “ADR” (6:37), “Main Titles” (2:33) and “Visual Effects Montage” (8:01). “Cutting Room” features editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, while Blur Studio’s Tim Miller narrates “Titles”. “ADR” offers raw footage of recording sessions, and “Montage” shows various shots pre/post effects. All of them deliver useful elements.

Finally, we head to Promotion. “Hard Copy” provides a “mock episode of the 80s-90s era tabloid show”; it goes eight minutes, 58 seconds and brings us a salacious look at the Harriet Vanger case. It’s a very fun extra, and optional commentary from producer David Prior gives us good background about it.

“Promotion” also includes seven TV spots and four trailers. “Metal One-Sheet” runs four minutes and shows the production of the movie’s poster. All these components add to the package.

A third disc provides a DVD copy of Tattoo. It comes with the commentary but lacks the other extras.

Filmmakers don’t get much better than David Fincher, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fails to demonstrate the director at his best. Although the story seems to be up his alley, Tattoo rarely threatens to live up to its potential. The Blu-ray delivers generally strong picture and audio as well as a great set of bonus materials. Tattoo offers mediocre Fincher.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2105 Stars Number of Votes: 19
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