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David Fincher's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is a beautifully-crafted motion picture with a challenging murder mystery at its center. Fincher openly embraces the dark overtones of Stieg Larsson's novel and turns it into his own gothic vision of the morbid, violent desires within the hearts of wicked men. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara provide excellent performances as Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, making this English-speaking version a surprisingly wonderful adaptation of the first book in the Millennium series. The Blu-ray debuts with a near-reference picture quality and a first-rate audio presentation that perfectly complements the film's subject matter. The wealth of supplements is a marvelous addition to the release and practically exclusive to the high-def format. Fans of the original novel trilogy should be pleased with this take, and Fincher devotees can chalk up another win for the filmmaker.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Shot with a combination of HD cameras (Red One MX and Red Epic), Fincher's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' debuts on Blu-ray with a spectacular and practically flawless 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) that will undoubtedly leave fans very happy.
The digital-to-digital transfer, which for anyone interested takes up nearly 49GB of real estate on a dual-layered BD50 disc, is razor-sharp with incredible clarity into the far-distance. In spite of the naturally dark, heavily-stylized photography of Jeff Cronenweth ('Fight Club,' 'The Social Network'), the picture is beautifully revealing with deep, penetrating blacks in every frame. Shadows are not always to my liking, particularly when characters are conversing near firelight, but they are true and accurate to natural, indoor lighting. Fine object details remain visible and distinct during these same scenes, giving viewers plenty to look at in the background and inside the homes of the Vanger family. Flesh tones are appropriate to the Swedish climate, exposing lifelike texture in facial complexions.
The palette is mostly drained of color throughout with a noticeable gray-bluish tint, matching the film's overall look to the sinister and grim subject matter. Primaries don't seem terribly affected by the deliberate cinematography, appearing quite vibrant as spring approaches within the narrative. Flashbacks sequences show an amber-brown hue to make them feel more antiquated and interestingly corresponding with Martin's house. The rest of the video shows pitch-perfect, reference-level contrast with superbly brilliant whites from beginning to end, making this a lovely high-def presentation of a grim film.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Fincher's latest crime drama also arrives with an amazing but artfully employed DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, which marvelously draws viewers into the mystery with its silence. Although not exactly the type that would compare to more action-oriented flicks, the design makes startling use of the system with very subtle, faint effects in the rears which often feel distant. These small moments are used creatively to enhance the island's isolation while also making the immediate Vanger property seem scarily remote and practically lifeless. Because of this, the stillness of quieter scenes is made more apparent. The understated and haunting score of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross extend the soundfield brilliantly, enveloping the listeners with music that darkly evocative and creepily moving.
The front soundstage displays the rest of the lossless mix with a spacious imaging and excellent channel separation. A couple words from Mara's Lisbeth Salander are a tad difficult to make out, but for the most part, dialogue reproduction is precise and splendidly intelligible. Dynamics are clean and sharply rendered, with exceptional clarity detail in the few action sequences and appreciable acoustics during the several indoor conversations. There aren't many notably examples of low-frequency effects, but in scenes requiring them, bass is fairly deep and appropriately responsive.
Darkly subtle as it is, the high-rez soundtrack is an absolute joy to listen and matches perfectly with the video presentation.
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