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:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-grinch-box-office-prediction/

For my Overlord prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/overlord-box-office-prediction/

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…

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)

Don’t Breathe Box Office Prediction

****BLOGGER’S UPDATE #2 (08/25/16): Finally relenting with Don’t Breathe to give it the #1 spot at $12.4 million. That’s not as high as most prognosticators, but it basically assures it the top spot. The change is reflected below. 

Next weekend, the makers of the Evil Dead reboot are back with Don’t Breathe, a horror pic that is garnering early positive reviews. Fede Alvarez directs with Sam Raimi producing in this tale of some teenagers robbing a blind man’s home. That man (played by veteran character actor Stephen Lang) turns out to be quite a force to be reckoned with. Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette costar.

The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival this past spring to good notices. It currently stands at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s been a solid summer for horror – as The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out both performed well (especially the latter considering its tiny budget). Lights benefited from a simple concept and critical acclaim, yet I’m not sure that will be repeated here. The late August release date has not been kind to the genre over the past few years. Last summer’s Sinister 2 managed just $10.5 million and that was a sequel to a well-regarded predecessor. The best comparison might be 2013’s You’re Next, another well-reviewed title that only grossed $7 million for its start. I’ll say this manages to top that, but not by too much.

I’ll predict Don’t Breathe tops that meager figure, but not by much at all.

Don’t Breathe opening weekend prediction: $12.4 million

For my Mechanic: Resurrection prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/16/mechanic-resurrection-box-office-prediction/

For my Hands of Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/17/hands-of-stone-box-office-prediction/