The Girl in the Spider's Web 4K Blu-ray Review
The term "Soft Reboot" now appears to be just another excuse to turn original ideas into generic franchise fodder
The Girl in the Spider's Web Film Review
With so much potential, it's such a shame that the iconic Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets the soft reboot treatment.Whether or not you believe that the late Stieg Larsson’s original Millennium Trilogy was already done justice by the Swedish adaptations starring Noomi Rapace, and that Fincher’s stylish but ultimately redundant Hollywood remake never really offered anything new to the mix, its relative lack of success – and also the lack of new material caused by the tragic loss of Larsson – put a spanner in the works for Hollywood’s franchise-making machine, who surely expected the iconic avenging angel super-hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander to be an easy win for a trilogy or two.
After Larsson’s legacy was continued in a new Millennium book series, a soft Hollywood reboot was only to be expected, but it hardly instils enthusiasm when the Studios clearly could not even commit to finishing their first trilogy, and unfortunately they also didn’t have much faith in the selling power of the tough but relatively normal protagonist, or the thrills of the cyber-hacking-infused narrative. The Girl in the Spider’s Web doesn’t just afford the series a fresh 'hip' new cast and style, it completely transforms the series into more of a Bond/Bourne competitor, turning Lisbeth into a proficient hand-to-hand combat expert, firearms expert and general all-round action heroine, diving away from explosions, speeding a bike across an ice lake, engaging in a breakneck car chase, or just taking on a room-full of armed men with a baton. This is not the Lisbeth fans know.
All of a sudden one of the most iconic female protagonists of the 21st Century turns into just another bland walking cliché
Whilst Spider’s Web has the benefit of a game Claire Foy (The Crown) as the new Lisbeth, and some engaging – if largely generic and frequently utterly over the top – action setpieces, it’s every stab at providing visceral entertainment is a nail in the coffin of the beloved character that came before, morphing the series from its fresh origins (an introverted cyber hacker goth punk drawn into helping a journalist with a decades old missing persons mystery) into the tried and tested run-and-hack-and-gun formula that’s been employed in just about every spy-tinged action thriller since Bourne rebooted Bond, with the flimsy 'stolen files from the NSA' plot barely holding together the key action setpieces.
All of a sudden one of the most iconic female protagonists of the 21st Century turns into just another bland walking cliché whose telegraphed sister troubles (who needs that prologue?) have zero impact and resonance. With machine-made precision, this is generically entertaining - perhaps even a cut above average - but also utterly throwaway, and a complete waste of a great character; they should have seduced Rapace to go back to Sweden and shoot it as a sequel to her original trilogy – maybe a more restrictive budget would have put paid to the foolish idea of turning Lisbeth Salander into Bond.
The Girl in the Spider's Web 4K PictureThe Girl in the Spider's Web comes to UK Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Sony, who unceremoniously pulled any US 4K release but - in a rare exception, as it's normally the other way around - are still delivering the disc to UK shores. Whatever the reservations about the film, there are no such reservations about the 4K rendition, which goes for a full-fat native 4K presentation courtesy of a 4K Digital Intermediate and manages to impress at every turn, offering a clear upgrade over the 'standard' 1080p Blu-ray counterpart.
The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image utilising the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.40:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.
We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Girl in the Spider's Web on an LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with an LG UP970 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Whatever the reservations about the film, there are no such reservations about the full-fat native 4K presentation
With a modicum of style commensurate to the series, but still given that more mainstream gloss, the feature runs the full gamut of tones from steely cold rooms to neon pink nightclubs, with the presentation more than up to the challenge, maintaining impeccable precision detailing throughout. Clarity is at times jaw-dropping (completely unnecessary and totally convoluted sequences like the lift conversation are, strangely, moments of pure visual wonder), embracing the icy environments, bringing depth and fine texture to close-ups of Salander, her skin, her hair, her tattoos and her wounds. Despite the ostensibly 'bleak' setting, there's plenty of pop for WCG and HDR to highlight, bringing every hint of vibrancy to life with a wonderful richness, and casting it all against a deep inky backdrop that further affords perfect contrast with the brilliant peak whites from the snow and sky. It's an excellent video presentation.
The Girl in the Spider's Web 4K SoundThe 4K disc also provides a substantial upgrade on the aural front with a full High Definition 3D Object-based audio mix in the form of a superb Dolby Atmos track, which elevates the Blu-ray's already excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix with a considerably more immersive offering.
A substantial upgrade on the aural front
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, however this is a much more action-driven affair than its siblings, bringing the key setpieces - motorbike escape across the ice, car chases, and the finale that could have easily been ripped out of a Bourne movie - to vibrant life, bringing the full weight of the LFE channel to the fore (the sniper rifle shots boom across the array with clear definition over and above all other forms of gunfire). Quieter moments still display decent atmospherics and the generic score gives the surrounds yet more fuel for the fire.
The Girl in the Spider's Web 4K ExtrasA number of decent extra features
The package provides a number of decent extra features including an Audio Commentary from the Director and Screenwriter, a quartet of Featurettes - affording background into the new casting of the lead character, the new soft reboot, the added family angle in this tale, and the key action sequences (which, alone, should be a sign that something has gone wrong with this particular entry as the series was never prized for its action sequences) - and some Deleted Scenes. Previews round out the disc.
The Girl in the Spider's Web 4K VerdictWith machine-made precision, this is generically entertaining but a waste of a great character; they should have seduced Rapace to go to Sweden and shoot a sequel to her original trilogy
The Girl in the Spider's Web is a rare title getting a 4K release in the UK where it was denied one stateside, and marking a distinct upgrade both thanks to the native 4K video and also the immersive Dolby Atmos audio, with a few nice features to round out the package. Completists should check it out, but don't expect a worthy addition to the franchise.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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