DVD Review: Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

Stieg Larsson fans know that the three Lisbeth Salander films released here last year also exist in a longer version aired as a TV miniseries in Europe. Now, in sync with the opening of David Fincher's American “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Music Box (which distributed the films in the U.S., both theatrically and on home video) has put out a boxed set of the entire miniseries.

We'll do the math for you: The theatrical releases totaled seven hours and eight minutes. In the miniseries, each book was split between two nights. The total time of the six episodes was nine hours and 17 minutes: ergo, two hours and nine minutes had to be trimmed, right?

Well, not exactly. The extra logos, credit sequences and recaps of former episodes may account for some of the discrepancy. But there are also scenes in the theatrical versions that don't exist in the miniseries, at least some of which compensate for exposition that had been cut. One in the third film doesn't add exposition, so it may have been done just for suspense: the giant Niedermann tries to get to Lisbeth in the hospital; maybe this was included to make up for the two other scary intrusions — by her father and her old psychiatrist — that were trimmed.

Some confusing plot developments — like how the Internal Security investigators get involved — are cleared up. In one case, the extra information we get in the extended edition creates a new plot problem. (Old man mails crank notes; goes straight to hospital; shoots somebody. At a press conference, which is now clearly within hours of these events, the police refer to the letters. So, unless Sweden has the fastest mail delivery in the world … ) Besides plot details, the TV version also gives a few minor characters more texture.

The extras in the theatrical box set Music Box put out earlier this year were disappointing; the disappointment is now doubled, since, for the new release, they've merely repeated the same material.

Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition (Music Box Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, 4 discs, 79.95; DVD, 4 discs, 59.95)

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