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)

Box Office Predictions: November 16-18

A trio of newbies enter the marketplace in the pre-Thanksgiving weekend as J.K. Rowling’s latest wizard tale Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Mark Wahlberg family comedy Instant Family, and critically hailed ensemble heist drama Widows debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/06/fantastic-beasts-the-crimes-of-grindelwald-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/07/instant-family-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/07/widows-box-office-prediction/

There’s little doubt that Beasts will easily take its perch atop the charts, as every Rowling based pic has going back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seventeen years ago. I’ve got it premiering just under its predecessor Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November 2016.

After it solid start, The Grinch should drop to second place. The direct competition from Beasts could mean a drop in the low to possibly mid 40s.

The rest of the top 5 gets interesting as Bohemian Rhapsody enters its third frame and battles with the newcomers. I’ve become a bit more convinced that Family will manage to outdo Widows out of the gate. If we take the Freddie Mercury biopic down about 40%, it could slightly edge Family.

Here’s my take on the weekend’s high five:

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Predicted Gross: $70.1 million

2. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $38.6 million

3. Bohemian Rhapsody

Predicted Gross: $19.5 million

4. Instant Family

Predicted Gross: $19.4 million

5. Widows

Predicted Gross: $15.8 million

Box Office Results (November 911)

It was sturdy holiday greetings for The Grinch as the animated Christmas flick took in $67.5 million, a bit ahead of my $63.4 million projection. There’s plenty of competition in the pipeline, but this should still play well throughout the upcoming season.

Bohemian Rhapsody was second in its sophomore weekend at $31.2 million (I said $29.8 million). In just ten days, it’s hit the $100 million mark.

Zombie war pic Overlord opened in third with a so-so $10.2 million, chomping past my $8.2 million estimate. It wasn’t expected to be this weekend’s #2 newcomer, but that has more to do with another film coming up in the recap.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms dropped to fourth with $10 million, on pace with my $10.2 million prediction. The Disney disappointment has made $35 million in two weeks.

A Star Is Born was fifth with $8.1 million (I said $8 million) to bring its haul to $178 million.

Opening in sixth place was The Girl in the Spider’s Web with a meager $7.8 million compared to my $9.4 million take. The soft reboot of the franchise could not connect with audiences seven years following the successful The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Lastly, today we lost an icon who created many of the heroes and villains that have dominated pop culture and our 21st century cinematic universe. RIP Stan Lee and thank you.

Box Office Predictions: November 9-11

Illumination Entertainment’s animated The Grinch looks to steal the box office crown from Bohemian Rhapsody after its killer opening this past weekend. We also have The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Overlord debuting and vying for some of the same audience members. You can find my detailed estimates on the trio of newbies right here:

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

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-box-office-prediction/

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

My mid 60s start for The Grinch easily places it in the top spot as it looks like to play well into the holiday season, even with plenty of family related competition coming soon.

Bohemian, despite very mixed reviews, played well with the masses and I don’t see it dropping more than mid 40s in its sophomore frame. The runner-up spot should be no problem for it.

As for the other newcomers, I have soured on Spider’s Web. My initial projection of $13.7 million has dwindled to $9.4 million. Depending on how Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (after a muted opening) drops in weekend #2, it could find itself in a battle for third place.

Despite positive critical notices, I’m skeptical that Overlord reaches its intended audience and I have it placing fifth with a sub double digits debut. If it opens much under that, it could be in danger of being sixth behind A Star Is Born. 

And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $63.4 million

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

Predicted Gross: $29.8 million

3. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

4. The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

5. Overlord

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million

6. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $8 million

Box Office Results (November 2-4)

Bohemian Rhapsody rocked out to a tremendous start with $51 million, easily outpacing my $41.8 million forecast. The Freddie Mercury biopic managed to outdo October’s debut for A Star Is Born. It’s likely to continue to play well throughout the month.

Disney experienced a rare letdown with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as it opened in second to an unremarkable $20.3 million. It did manage to just top my $19.4 million estimate. The film will hope for smallish declines in the coming weeks, but competition for families and little ones is significant in November.

Tyler Perry’s comedy Nobody’s Fool starring Tiffany Haddish had a so-so premiere in third with $13.7 million, in range with my $14.5 million projection. That’s roughly half of what Haddish’s September pic Night School accomplished out of the gate.

A Star Is Born was fourth with $11 million (I said $9.7 million) to brings its total to $165 million.

Now that its namesake holiday has passed, Halloween took a tumble in weekend #3 to fifth with $10.8 million (I was higher at $14.1 million). Nevertheless the $10 million production has amassed a fantastic $150 million thus far.

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

Overlord Box Office Prediction

Horror audiences have been treated to lots of zombies over the past few years on the big and small screen. Yet in Overlord, we get to witness the undead in World War II! That’s the basic premise of the J.J. Abrams produced genre pic out next weekend from director Julius Ray. The cast includes Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, Jacob Anderson, and Bokeem Woodine.

Reviews for this exercise have been strong since it premiered at Fantastic Fest last month and it currently holds an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The opportunity for this to be a cult hit is very real, but its initial box office earnings might be just fair. The Girl in the Spider’s Web presents some direct competition while casual horror enthusiasts may have had their fill with Halloween. A decent comp could be both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, which respectively made $10 million and $9.8 million for their starts. I’ll put this a bit under those.

Overlord opening weekend prediction: $8.2 million

For my The Grinch prediction, click here:

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

For my The Girl in the Spider’s Web prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-box-office-prediction/

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…