The Girl... Millennium Trilogy (Extended Versions) Review
The SeriesThe purpose of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is remarkably ambitious. It knits together the global and the personal, and offers a story of one woman that seeks to explain a lot of what is wrong with our non-fictional world. Larsson offers a thriller plot with elements of his own history absorbed, in order to ask questions about corruption, the legacy of the past and an all-pervading patriarchy. Whilst wrongs may be righted, the purpose of the three novels is not to leave the reader with a sense of relief at their conclusion but with a stronger insight into the factors which made their gruesome events happen. In fact, many have already picked over the bones of the huge commercial success looking for more to promise to a hungry and willing public. The author's bereaved partner has had to deal with the expectations of an unsatisfied readership, and the claims of former colleagues that stir this un-sated appetite. Yet, is this lack of a readership having its fill merely greed for more of Larsson's entertaining and shocking stories or a symptom of the world he reveals through the story of Lisbeth Salander?
Approximately 30 million books have been sold, three feature films have been released based on each of the novels and soon we are to see Hollywood's adaptation of these stories. In this box set, the original TV series from which the international films were edited are collected together and released as six 90 minute episodes, 2 per novel. For those who wanted more after the theatrical releases, this box set provides plenty in terms of extra footage and detail, although I am sure they will not prove enough for many.For those of you unaware of the novels, each two episodes of this series correlates to one book in the trilogy. In episodes one and two, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, our crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist, a bit of a Larsson clone, uncovers murders, fascism and the beginnings of the mystery of Salander, his somewhat reluctant co-sleuth. Episodes three and four, The Girl Who Played With Fire follow the second feature film by concentrating upon the origins of Salander, the cold war and the dirty politics that went with it. And the final episodes, five and six, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, reveal the truth and the conspiracy at the heart of Lisbeth Salander's fate.
Through the whole of the action, the enigmatic Salander is an ultimate anti-hero who has learnt how to defend herself and whose often brutal actions are explained by the truths finally revealed. In a normalised and conformist world she deliberately sticks out and is the very embodiment of the "Wasp" she chooses as her moniker. In fact, the paradoxes of this woman's violence and brilliance, her small size and her huge impact, and her anger and insight are what the Millennium trilogy is most memorable for. She, in herself, is the ultimate sense of no happy ending, no pat resolution and no reconciliation. Salander will not become absorbed, neutered or acceptable because for her the damage is already done.Around Salander, the other characters are moralistic cyphers or urbane monsters. Even given nine hours to flesh him out, Mikael Nykvist only really succeeds in presenting Blomqvist as decent, driven and, well, a little dull. The various conspirators are satisfying as monsters of various kinds, although this allows little exploration of moral shades of right and wrong, and sometimes the endless procession of good women and bad men is rather too binary to lend much depth to the moral outrage. Still, this is perhaps forgivable because Salander is the real point of the novels and this adaptation.
Noomi Rapace's performance is one of those iconic, career defining turns that leads you to fear for anyone else asked to follow in her footsteps. She manages to combine great power, an endless reservoir of hurt and an impossible integrity that will keep Salander a lone traveller even if her rage ever dissipates. When Rapace is off-screen, the procedural elements take over and this series looks most like the TV product it is, even if it is a superior product. This unflashy competence should not be derided though and as adaptation, the series only loses itself briefly in some irrelevant subplots before returning to the central political thriller elements. The stories are competently delivered and the nine hour duration is certainly worth the investment for the patient viewer.And this brings me back to people wanting more, and I hope that the more they want isn't a whitewashed Lisbeth Salander with 2.4 children and a picket fence. Her tale is one of eventual survival not acceptance, of being what she is made into despite what her powerful enemies decide she should be. Despite a few blind alleys and the occasional cliché, this long adaptation manages to appreciate that sanguine victory rather well.
Tech specsThe set was offered for review on three BD50 discs with a DVD disc housing the main extras. Each film is given a competent, slightly grainy transfer with a naturalistic treatment that certainly recalls film more than video. All of the films are given a 23.98 per second frame rate and the image on each is similar throughout. My one comments about difference in the transfers is that the first film seems to have much more solid, well-judged contrast.A single quibble would be that all of the films showed what looked like a tape noise artefact towards the very top of the screen when viewed on two different monitors. Overall though these are very nice transfers that will be very welcome replacements for the existing BD releases. Each film comes with two lossless audio tracks, English and Swedish, and an option screen comes up before watching each of the six episodes to help you choose. The English dub is not a thing of great beauty and I advise that you choose the much more integrated original Swedish option which fills the soundstage well offering plenty of atmosphere and rumble with formidable clarity and detail.
ExtrasThere are trailers which begin each Blu-ray for Momentum releases, but mainly extra features are found on the DVD in this set which ports most of the previous extras from the individual BD releases of the three feature films. The "Dragon" extras include interviews with Rapace talking in excellent English, the producer, photos, a trailer and a family tree for those who don't quite get the plot. The "Fire" extras are a featurette length set of interviews in Swedish undertaken on set with cast, a rather underwhelming behind the fight scene and a trailer. A second on-set interview with Rapace, followed by Blomqvist interviewed in make-up and a final trailer are offered for the final film.
SummaryA welcome release of the full TV mini-series will please those who found the feature films incomplete. However, the whole series can definitely be improved upon dramatically and thematically and perhaps the coming David Fincher directed US adaptation will do just that.
7 out of 10
7 out of 10
7 out of 10
5 out of 10