This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
What? Stieg Larsson's Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
Who? Directed by Niels Arden Oplev and Daniel Alfredson, and starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist
Why? The Swedish movie trilogy based on late author Stieg Larsson's "Millennium series" has become an international box-office sensation and made a star out of Noomi Rapace, who plays the titular "girl," Lisbeth Salander. The sensational three crime thrillers are boxed here on both DVD and Blu-ray and are worth checking out before David Fincher births his English-language remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is scheduled for theatrical release this December.
The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy kicks off with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and introduces the world to Lisbeth Salander—a 24-year-old Gothic-looking computer hacker working for a security firm. Lisbeth—who has a violent history—is assigned a new probationary guardian who is a sexual sadist and tries to control Lisbeth's finances in exchange for sexual favors. He violently rapes her, but Lisbeth secretly records video of the attack to use against him later. Meanwhile, Lisbeth has taken an interest in middle-aged investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), whose magazine, Millennium, exposes corporate corruption at the highest levels. He is hired to investigate what happened to an aging captain of industry's niece, who disappeared 40 years earlier and who is suspected of being murdered by another family member. Lisbeth hacks into Mikael's computer, gives him tips and eventually meets up with him to help him solve the mystery. The two become sexually involved, but Lisbeth—who more often shares her bed with women—never emotionally surrenders herself to anyone.
In the second film, The Girl Who Played With Fire, we learn that Salander set her abusive father on fire, which led to her being institutionalized at a young age. When Lisbeth's sadistic guardian from the first film is found murdered, the black-clad bad girl becomes the police's prime suspect. Meanwhile, two of Blomkvist's Millennium colleagues are found murdered while working on a story about sex trafficking. Blomkvist is convinced his Dragon Tattoo lover is innocent and that her life is in danger.
The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
comes to an unforgettable close with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
, the opening of which finds Salander in the hospital recovering from the injuries she endured fighting her father and her freakish, hulking half-brother who is impervious to pain. While Lisbeth awaits trial, Blomkvist sets out to uncover the conspiracy responsible for Lisbeth's being sent to an asylum at age 12 while her father was protected by evil forces within the government. The investigation, which puts Salander and Blomkvist's colleagues in considerable danger, leads Blomkvist to "The Section"—a depraved group of thieves and perverts with many secrets to keep. All of them come out in a thoroughly satisfying courtroom sequence in which dark heroine Salander makes her last stand against the system that altered her identity forever.
Rapace, in a word, is riveting as Salander and laid to rest any concerns fans of the books had with a cinematic translation of Larsson's work. Lisbeth will live again in Fincher's version, which casts Rooney Mara as the girl with the tattoos who plays with fire, smokes a lot, kicks hornets' nests and pretty much anything else that gets in her way. If you're allergic to subtitles and are apprehensive about reading the dialogue for a trilogy, breathe easy because all three movies include an English soundtrack in addition to the original Swedish one.
What Else?: Both the DVD and Blu-ray sets have a fourth disc with two hours of extras, including the 53-minute making-of documentary "Millennium: The Story," a 20-minute interview with Rapace, a 15-minute interview with Blomkvist, a featurette on constructing a fight scene for The Girl Who Played With Fire and 15 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew from The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.