The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest comes to US Region Free Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the TV-movie’s original aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. I thought Dragon Tattoo looked pretty good in HD – it was clearly the bigger-budget brother of the two sequels but it also balanced the grain/noise levels and offered up some nice landscape shots to counterpoint the claustrophobic interior confrontations. The Girl who played with Fire was pretty disappointing – firstly because it didn’t have the same broad 2.35:1 cinematic aspect ratio, but also because it just wore its TV origins on its sleeve. I’m not saying that it didn’t look good for a Swedish TV series – but it didn’t look anywhere near as good as the first film. Unfortunately, whilst this third part is slightly better than “Fire” in terms of visual quality, it is still not all that great. There’s still an uncomfortable amount of noise, particularly during the bleak exterior shots. That said, the interiors fare better, the court sequences boasting some nice, deep mahogany browns; black levels remaining fairly good, with no bleeding and no overtly distracting softness to the objects themselves. This is poor quality for a cinema-bound film, but acceptable quality for this kind of TV series, it’s just a shame that here it has to be judged as a standalone HD film release.
Once again, as with both previous instalments in the Millennium Trilogy, all we get to accompany the movie is a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Initially I was a little disappointed when I found that the first movie, “Dragon Tattoo”, didn’t have an HD audio track (another portent that there will be a superior collector’s edition somewhere down the line), but the DD5.1 accompaniment was actually fairly good, and the similar offering for “Fire” was even more impressive. Honestly, the third instalment is even more dialogue-driven than either of the others, so I’m not entirely sure whether an HD track would have made a big difference, but The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest isn’t exactly noteworthy on the aural front. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array for the majority of the proceedings – as you would only expect. The score, which was actually brilliant in the first movie, and pretty decent in the second, is used sparingly – and sometimes even inappropriately – in this final part. It’s as if, in the editing room, they moved scenes around but forgot to change the score to suit them. The effects are the only aspect of the track which actually make an impact in terms of rear action, and even then there’s little directionality across your living room, just a few echoing footsteps and dripping water noises coming from behind you. I can’t say that it is a bad track, given the material that it’s working with, but it’s far from a demo-quality showcase for your HD equipment. There is also an alternative English dub but, seriously, don’t even try it – it’s a travesty that dubs are even still in existence, especially when we have perfectly good English subtitles to accompany the original Swedish.
As with the previous releases, this is another near-bare-bones disc, with just the Theatrical Trailer to accompany the movie. (*cough*double-dip*cough*)
The late Stieg Larsson’s powerful Millennium Trilogy comes to a close with this suitably climactic final chapter. However, whilst it may tie up all of the loose ends from the last movie, it is a film which most definitely cannot be watched without having seen its predecessor. This is arguably the biggest downside of the trilogy – the sequels can only really be fully enjoyed if watched in close succession. Still, if you made it this far, then you have to complete the journey. Just don’t expect things to go out with a bang, The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is more about resolution and closure than explosive denouement, with none of the shock revelations prevalent in the first two chapters, and thus few surprises on offer. Sequels always have a tough job living up to the original, especially in cases – like this – where the first movie was such a powerful, dark and original mystery thriller. They could have done a slightly better job with these particular sequels by either shooting them as proper movies, or releasing them in their original TV miniseries format, but there’s no denying that the cohesive whole is still a compelling, character-driven mystery drama, and one of the best crime trilogies that I have ever come across.
On Region Free US Blu-ray, the second sequel suffers from limited video quality and pretty lacklustre audio, as well as a complete lack of extras. Honestly, there’s no denying the inevitable collector’s edition that is going to be released, and it’s a shame that this is what we have to make do with in the meantime, but few who have already investigated the Millennium Trilogy will be able to wait for a superior release, you’ll have waited long enough already to get all your answers.
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