The Girl in the Spider’s Web Movie Review

In 2011, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo billed itself as the “feel bad” movie of the Christmas season. It was an apt description due to its bleak subject matter stemming from the series of Stieg Larsson bestsellers. However, the film itself left a very positive impression with its stylish direction from David Fincher and fine lead performances from Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.

It’s taken some time for Hollywood to come up with their second iteration of the franchise (there were three Swedish entries a decade ago). This time around, the players from Tattoo are MIA and they wisely removed themselves. Fincher only executive produces. Mara’s Oscar nominated turn as Lisbeth Salander is now portrayed by Claire Foy. Craig’s journalist Mikael Blomkvist is now represented by Sverrir Gudnason. The harsh material and winter that accompanies it are still present.

Unlike the 2011 adaptation, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (based on David Lagercrantz’s book following Larsson’s death) is not an example of bad meaning good. Sadly it’s just plain bad most of the time. In ways that were only hinted at in Tattoo, Lisbeth’s backstory is explored in detail here. She’s a child of a nasty abusive father that she managed to escape from. Her mission of avenging women from lousy men is provided more context. Lisbeth has a sister that didn’t get to loosen herself from her father’s grip. And she grows up to be Sylvia Hoeks’s character, who inherits many of the sadistic patriarchal traits.

Web has a tangled plot involving a McGuffin that reveals the global nuclear codes (how familiar). Lisbeth is hired by a conflicted programmer (Stephen Merchant) to retrieve it. The programmer, in a lame plot twist, has a young son who is the only one capable of unlocking the device’s codes. The American government, led by a sullen NSA agent (LaKeith Stanfield), want it back. So does Lisbeth’s sibling and her bevy of thugs who go by “The Spiders”.

I haven’t mentioned Blomkvist yet. He’s in the picture for plenty of minutes. As played by Gudnason, he’s also totally forgettable. The romantic dynamic between that character and Lisbeth was the bloody heart of Tattoo. Here it’s basically ignored and inconsequential. Mara and Craig clicked in the predecessor. Blomkvist is a dull blank slate in this.

Fede Alvarez is behind the camera and he’s a talented filmmaker as proven by his Evil Dead remake and Don’t Breathe. He does his best to bring some visual flair and succeeds a few times. He’s no Fincher though. Many of the action sequences are routine. I don’t look for plausibility in stuff like this. Yet the sight of Lisbeth getting herself out of impossible scenarios over and over again based on her being a walking super computer grows tiresome.

Foy is a fine actress who tries her best to provide some emotional heft to the lead role. This pseudo-sequel doesn’t deserve her. Tattoo made its feel bad mark in highly satisfying fashion. Spider’s Web feels like a fake.

*1/2 (out of four)

The Girl in the Spider’s Web Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (11/08/18): And another revision down to $9.4 million

Blogger’s Note (11/05/18): I am revising my estimate down to $11.7 million from original estimate of $13.7 million

The Girl in the Spider’s Web makes its way to stateside multiplexes next weekend nearly seven years after David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mr. Fincher is nowhere to be found nor is Rooney Mara as computer hacking heroine Lisbeth. Claire Foy takes over the title role with Don’t Breathe maker Fede Alvarez directing. Costars include Sverrir Gudnason, LaKeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, and Vicky Krieps.

It’s based on the wildly popular series of novels began by the late Stieg Larsson. This one in particular is adapted from the 2015 book by David Lagercrantz. The long layoff and different personnel involved could present some box office challenges. Reviews are mixed thus far as it stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. There’s also direct competition in the form of Overlord, which will be vying for much of the same audience.

Comparing numbers with Tattoo is a tricky proposition. That eagerly awaited pic’s traditional opening weekend number was $12.7 million, but that’s with a huge asterisk. It opened Christmas weekend of 2011 when the holiday fell on a Sunday. Tattoo rolled out on Wednesday and Monday was counted as part of a long weekend. So its six-day earnings totaled out to $27.8 million. At the end of its run, it made $102 million.

Web is highly unlikely to approach those earnings. While it certainly could technically match Tattoo‘s traditional Friday to Sunday debut, there will be none of that extra holiday dough. I actually think a fair comp is September’s Peppermint with Jennifer Garner at $13.4 million and that’s right in the range of where I have Spider landing.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web opening weekend prediction: $9.4 million

For my The Grinch prediction, click here:

For my Overlord prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

On November 9, The Girl in the Spider’s Web drops in theaters stateside. It had its premiere at the Rome Film Festival and reviews are out. The film is a continuation of adaptations of the bestselling Swedish crime novels originated by Stieg Larsson (this particular book was penned by David Lagercrantz). If it seems odd to have an Oscar Watch post up for the thriller, don’t forget that 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo nabbed five nominations: Best Actress (Rooney Mara), both Sound races, Cinematography, and Editing (which it won).

This version finds Claire Foy taking over the lead role of Lisbeth as she follows in the footsteps of Mara and Noomi Rapace before that. Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez takes over top duties after David Fincher made Dragon. Costars include Sverrir Gudnason, Sylvia Hoeks, LaKeith Stanfield, Stephen Merchant, and Vicky Krieps.

Early reaction is quite mixed and Web appears highly unlikely to match the many kudos that went to Fincher’s film. Critics are pointing out Foy as a highlight, but I wouldn’t look her to be a factor at all in Best Actress. Lucky for her, she is a definite factor in Supporting Actress with the already released First Man.

Bottom line: while Tattoo garnered Academy attention, don’t look for voters to stamp their approval here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

A Quiet Place Box Office Prediction

Next weekend, A Quiet Place looks to make a lot of noise at the box office and early indications are that it may well succeed. The horror pic comes from John Krasinski, best known to many as Jim from “The Office”. The director stars alongside his real life spouse Emily Blunt with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe playing their children. The foursome play a family trying desperately to survive in a world terrorized by creatures that attack if you make a sound.

The Paramount release garnered significant buzz when it screened at the South by Southwest Festival earlier this year. Krasinski’s previous directorial outing, comedic drama 2016’s The Hollars, made little impression with moviegoers. Look for his career behind the camera to be on the upswing following this. Critical praise has been vocal and it’s currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The creepy and nearly silent trailers are effective and the marketplace seems primed for a hit in the genre.

Add all that up and I believe the opening for Quiet will be anything but. I could see this debuting between the $26 million achieved by 2016’s Don’t Breathe and the $33 million haul of last year’s Get Out.

A Quiet Place opening weekend prediction: $31.2 million

For my Blockers prediction, click here:

For my The Miracle Season prediction, click here:

For my Chappaquiddick prediction, click here:

Don’t Breathe Movie Review

A home invasion horror flick where the home invaders are kind of the good guys, Don’t Breathe is a pretty nifty and sometimes nasty little experience. It comes from Fede Alvarez, who’s shown himself as a gifted filmmaker in the genre after making 2013’s Evil Dead remake.

We open with three Detroit youngsters who earn some pocket change ripping off nice cribs. It’s rather easy work for them because nice guy Alex (Dylan Minnette) has a dad with a home security business, giving him access to precious info. There’s the harder edged Money (Daniel Zovatto) and his gal Rocky (Jane Levy), who Alex has a crush on. Rocky is our central heroine character. She lives in a low income Motor City neighborhood with a very trashy mom, her loser boyfriend, and a sweet younger sister that she wants to show a better life. I half expected Eminem to rap during her background scene.

The trio get a tip on a new property to focus on and it’s not a typical one. The new mark is a military vet who resides in a poor neighborhood where the homes around him are abandoned. Yet they believe there’s a lot of green there as he received a big settlement after his daughter was killed in an auto accident. It’s a large enough potential payout to send them California dreamin’, so off they go.

What they discover is this robbery victim is unlike any other. First, he’s blind. He’s also got a vicious dog and a casa with all kinds of surprises in store. This sets up a scenario where the criminals become the hunted in The Blind Man’s twisted playhouse.

The occupant is played with supreme creepiness by Stephen Lang. A character actor who’s impressed in all kinds of roles, it’s a kick to see him let loose here. As a side note, he was also the best thing in the long forgotten Michael J. Fox/James Woods buddy cop comedy The Hard Way 25 years ago in which he also played one disturbed dude. The rest of the cast looks appropriately mortified during their during their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad burglary. For that reference, look up Minnette’s filmography. I had to in order to remind myself what I’d seen him in before.

There’s some twists that come later and the main one is a demented doozy. With its grindhouse title and lower end budget to match, Don’t Breathe should please slasher enthusiasts with its welcome uncomplicated story. When we are introduced to one character unexpectedly, the levels of plausibility are stretched greatly if you seriously ponder it. However, we don’t go into pics like this holding our breath for that nor should we care. This delivers enough of the goods that we honestly don’t.

*** (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: September 23-25

This past weekend, all newcomers failed to connect with audiences, but the fourth weekend of September has two openings where their prospects look more solid. They are the Denzel Washington/Chris Pratt Western remake The Magnificent Seven and Warner Bros animated Storks. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each right here:

I have Seven slated for the second largest September debut of all time, just behind last year’s Hotel Transylvania 2. As for Storks, I’m predicting a solid second place start.

Sully should fall to third after two weeks on top. As for the aforementioned newbies from last weekend, Bridget Jones’s Baby seems likely to have the smallest decline in its sophomore frame over Blair Witch and Snowden. In fact, while Blair Witch had the highest opening of the fresh titles (which isn’t saying much), I have it primed for a massive drop due to its putrid D+ Cinemascore average.

As far as where the readers think I am with predictions on our two newcomers:

The Magnificent Seven: 36% Too High, 35% Just About Right, 29% Too Low – quite the even split!

Storks: 46% Too Low, 36% Just About Right, 18% Too High

In last weekend’s poll, 74% incorrectly (including I) guessed that Blair Witch would be #1 while 26% correctly said Sully. 

And with that, let’s do a top six for this weekend:

1. The Magnificent Seven

Predicted Gross: $47.1 million

2. Storks

Predicted Gross: $27.9 million

3. Sully

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million (representing a drop of 31%)

4. Bridget Jones’s Baby

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million (representing a drop of 40%)

5. Snowden

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million (representing a drop of 47%)

6. Blair Witch

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million (representing a drop of 65%)

Box Office Results (September 16-18)

Sully once again landed (the pun is old, I know) safely in first place for the second weekend in a row with $21.6 million – just shy of my $23.3M forecast. The Tom Hanks hit has earned $70M thus far.

The curse of the Blair Witch applied to its dismal box office numbers as the sequel to the 1999 smash hit made just $9.5 million. I originally predicted $27.4 million before revising it down to $22.4M. I should have kept going down further and further. In a year that’s been mighty good for horror, the Witch debut gave us a rare dud. However, keeping things in perspective, it did only cost a measly $5 million to make, so it nearly doubled its budget in three days.

In more underwhelming sequel news – Renee Zellweger’s return to the big screen in her signature role was met with a shrug as Bridget Jones’s Baby earned $8.5 million, under my $12.3M estimate. The third entry in the franchise (and first in 12 years) posted its lowest debut in third, just under the $8.6M of 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. 

Oliver Stone’s Snowden was fourth with $8 million, a bit ahead of my $6.8M prediction. This is just an OK showing as mixed reviews and perhaps a distaste for political drama on the big screen contributed to its ambivalent roll out.

Don’t Breathe stayed in the top five with $5.6 million ($75M total). I incorrectly didn’t include it as its drop-off was smaller than I anticipated.

When the Bough Breaks was sixth in weekend #2 with $5.4 million (I said $5.6M). It’s made $22M.

Last and least – the Christian concert doc Hillsong – Let Hope Rise tanked with only $1.3 million – less than half of my $3M projection for an unlucky 13th place showing.

And that will do it for now, friends! Until next time…


Box Office Predictions: September 16-18

The third weekend of September brings us four new films (just as last weekend did) and they are: horror sequel Blair Witch, rom com three-quel Bridget Jones’s Baby, Oliver Stone’s political thriller Snowden, and faith-based concert documentary Hillsong – Let Hope Rise. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

As I see it, Bridget Jones’s Baby looks like it’ll easily place third for the weekend – unless Snowden does considerably better than my estimate. However, I have Snowden pretty far behind in fourth.

Hillsong is unpredictable (it doesn’t help that I don’t have a screen count). I have it in eighth place at $3 million.

The battle for #1 could be one to watch. My estimate for Blair Witch puts it there, but I expect Sully to experience a rather smallish decline. If Witch comes in below my prognosis, the Clint Eastwood/Tom Hanks could land in first for the second frame.

As for current #2 When the Bough Breaks, I look for it to place fifth with a hefty decline.

Here’s how the blog readers feel about my newcomer predictions:

Blair Witch: 36% Too High, 33% Just About Right, 31% Too Low

Bridget Jones’s Baby: 51% Too Low, 32% Just About Right, 17% Too High

Snowden: 71% Too Low, 23% Just About Right, 6% Too High

**I made my Hillsong prediction just this evening, so no real data on that one yet.

And with that, a top 5 predictions for the weekend:

1. Blair Witch

Predicted Gross: $27.4 million

2. Sully

Predicted Gross: $23.3 million (representing a drop of 33%)

3. Bridget Jones’s Baby

Predicted Gross: $12.3 million

4. Snowden

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

5. When the Bough Breaks

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million (representing a drop of 61%)

Box Office Results (September 9-11)

Sully had a terrific debut over the weekend with $35 million – good for the fifth highest September opening ever and coming in above my $28.5M estimate. It also marks Tom Hanks’s largest live-action premiere in seven years. With an A Cinemascore grade, expect Sully to have sturdy legs moving forward.

The news wasn’t as good for When the Bough Breaks, which made $14.2 million for runner-up status. I was way higher with $22.7M. The romantic thriller couldn’t match the September openings of similarly themed 2014 and 2015 pics – No Good Deed and The Perfect Guy. That said, Bough‘s price tag is only a reported $10 million so a tidy profit is in order for studio Screen Gems.

Don’t Breathe, as expected, dropped to third after two weeks on top with $8.2 million – in line with my $7.5M forecast for a total of $66M. Suicide Squad was fourth with $5.7 million (I predicted $5.1M) for a $307M tally.

Fifth place belonged to Belgian animated entry The Wild Life and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. It earned $3.3 million (I went with $3.2M) for a lackluster beginning.

Kubo and the Two Strings was sixth, also at $3.3 million (I said $3.8M) to bring its gross to $40M.

Last and least, Kate Beckinsale’s horror flick The Disappointments Room bombed in a 17th place showing with just $1.4 million. I was a bit more generous at $2.3M.

And that will do it for now, folks! Until next time…