Darke Reviews | The Girl in the Spiders Web (2018)

The past few weeks have been hell on my movie going timelines with vacation and a brief plague; in addition to a number of double or triple releases of films I want to see. This was a last minute viewing for me with no real plan or I would have invited my regular movie going partner with me, who I do owe a movie and a dinner for missing our last showing. Now, I am a fan of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the original Swedish release (2009), not so much the American remake (2011) a few years later. Noomi Rapace defined the role of Lisbeth Salander, and the late Michael Nyqvist introduced me to investigative journalist Mikael Blomvist. While director Niels Arden Oplev may not be the auteur that David Fincher is, I found his (original) film more engaging. Rooney Mara was good, but she just didn’t hit what Rapace did for me in the role. Unfortunately, I have not gotten around to watching the two sequel films in the Millenium series, The Girl Who Played with Fire and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornets nest; but they are on my list. The movies require a certain frame of mind and preparation for solid investigation, mystery, and intensity that we don’t often get here in the states.

Tonight I was in that frame of mind and took a chance. 

The characters were created by late activist and Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), with whom even the original Millenium trilogy (Tattoo/Fire/Nest) was published posthumously, then converted to movies shortly after. This movie is based on the book of the same name, written by David Lagercrantz, who has another sequel in print The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. That’s a complex origin, but worth noting for future trivia contests if you so wish. Spiders Web was given the screenplay treatment by Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent) with Steven Knight (Allied, Locke, Seventh Son); with on set touch ups by director Fede Alvarez.  As the director is the third writing credit here, my take is that he was doing rewrites on set with his cast. Alvarez worked on 2016’s Don’t Breathe and the acclaimed 2013 remake of Evil Dead.

The story here is a simple one as told in the trailer, Lisbeth Salander, righter of wrongs, is an avenging angel in Stockholm. She is a computer genius and particularly vindictive to those who victimize women – regardless of their social standing. Lisbeth is contacted to steal a scary software MacGuffin, is nearly killed, and must recover the MacGuffin before it’s too late with the help of some friends. She has an on again off again friendship with famous reporter Mikael Blomkvist, who returns in this movie as well. All of the events though tie to a past we have not seen fully explored for Ms Salander and it may come back to bite her in the end. Honestly, the story is Steal the Scary thing. Scary thing stolen from you. Steal it back that we’ve seen in so many spy thrillers and heist movies over the years. What makes this different is the personal touches and ties to the past and sense of self. Trying to identify who you are and remembering your past without letting it consume you.

The acting is fantastic. Claire Foy (The Crown, Unsane) gets the character. She has the rage, the insecurity, the fear, and the cunning of the titular character down. It’s difficult to make a character like Lisbeth sympathetic as she’s relatively anti social and unlikable, but if you have the chops and can pull of the complexity you can show the sensitivity and the need to reach out for human contact in a look, a touch, or even the slight tilt of the head and Foy has that. It isn’t a surprise she won awards for her work on The Crown, I’d personally like to see her nominated again here. Sverrir Gunnason takes over in the role of Mikael and he’s good, but he doesn’t have the edge to him I was feeling with Nyqvists performance. Lakeith Stanfield (Selma, Death Note) plays another party interested in our MacGuffin and brings a physicality to the movie that it might otherwise be missing, but the character doesn’t do him justice beyond that unfortunately. Sylvia Hoeks is our woman in red, and gives an as nuanced performance as she did as Luv in Blade Runner 2049 last year; which is difficult with the make up and prosthetics she has going on. Even with the minor roles and mediocre characters there’s a lot of subtext in the movie the various cast members have to deliver on and they do that effectively.

The on location (Stockholm) really adds the required atmosphere for the movie. The ice and snow (happy Elsa sigh) are as much characters in the movie at times and add a necessary element to the film. The camera work is both stable and kinetic in that you can see everything going on in every sequence, but there’s a motion to the camera for many of them that draws you into the chases and chess moves being laid out before you on screen.

TL;DR

I was excited watching this movie. It’s good. It’s entertaining from beginning to end. Ultimately it is also satisfying. More than once I found myself sitting up in the lounge seat and leaning forward or quietly cheering for whatever actually happened. In addition to this the movie provides multiple types of LGBT representation which is worth calling out.

I really enjoyed The Girl in the Spiders Web and I think you will too.

Should I see it then?

Yes. This one absolutely edges Widows out if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s just the more satisfying film.

Would you see it again?

No question in my mind. also at full price.

Buying it?

Yes. Also likely to get the other films, sight unseen.

Anything else to add?

I am going to try to see Suspiria this weekend at a local theatre if I can.

Darke Reviews – Gone Girl (2014)

As promised I am getting this review done. Sorry it is a few days late, but I had some surgery last week and was pretty much told to not move much for a bit. Do I regret not seeing this the opening weekend? Not really. It looks like plenty of people went and saw it, letting it take the weekend by a hair over the horror movie prequel Annabelle (probably not seeing it).

http://boxofficemojo.com/

Source Box office Mojo

So should you see it now that I have and can talk about it.

The movie is in the based on a book category by writer Gillian Flynn, who also has the sole screenplay credit. I will be honest, I am trying to remember when that’s happened before and the name involved wasnt Stephen King. (Ok I looked it up after writing that sentence, Anne Rice has book/screenplay credit on 1994’s Interview with the Vampire).  It’s rare the author not only options her book, but gets to write the screenplay and no others come in to “touch it up”. That being said this means any and all changes are approved by the author to some extent. As per usual I can’t comment on the book, but the woman next to me said the movie was actually darker than the source material. I find that fascinating, but not entirely surprising. As someone who also writes, if given the option I would make edits to my work after the fact if converting it for the screen. Change the little things, or even big things, I might not have seen in my first thousand passes through the writing process.

On top of the pure writer element to the movie, the director is David Fincher. I suppose this should have told me what I was getting into with the movie when examining his credits before this, at least once he realized what he can do directing. I will try not to hold Alien 3 against him. Fincher is the man responsible for Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, and the americanized remake of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That last one is the one I want to call attention to. I am writing a review about a murder/dissappearance mystery and cannot give spoilers. You realize how insanely hard that is? Not even a hint? While watching the movie, however, I was reminded of the Niels Arden Oplev (aka original) version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It took your brain places you don’t normally go and makes you uncomfortable while there. This movie actually can do the same.

From an acting standpoint, ladies and gentlemen, we have witnessed Ben Affleck and his A Game. He is stellar in this movie through all the transitions he must go through, but to be honest I knew he had it in him. He has made some questionable choices in his career putting it mildly, but since his revival with Argo he seems to be on the right track. The person that truly surprised me was Rosamund Pike. When I first saw her in the nail in the coffin of Bond movies Die Another Day I was unimpressed. Then came Doom, my eye brows raised but she was generally bland. I saw the same blandness in Surrogates and Wrath of the Titans. Even in Jack Reacher and The Worlds End I wasn’t seeing much from her. So in the same vein of questionable career choices, while she didn’t burn as spectacularly as Affleck did, she wasn’t really impressing me. I must now issue a formal written apology. The woman can act. I loved her in this. The eyes, the emotion, and the weight she must carry through the flashbacks of her characters life with Affleck. Brilliant.

The supporting cast with such notables as Tyler Perry and the awe- wait for it – some Neil Patrick Harris really were able to bring the rest of the movie together and lift some of the burden from the two mains. Kim Dickens as the Detective and Carrie Coon as Afflecks sister had as much on the table as Affleck and Pike and delivered just as much intelligence and heart as the film needed. It all worked.

As a technical thing, the movie does run nearly three hours and at a certain point it begins to feel it. I am not entirely sure what, if anything, could have been cut but it was worth mentioning.

So I am going to jump to the TL;DR now

Gone Girl is an interesting film. I like where it took my brain. I liked what I saw. I liked what I figured out and what I didn’t. I was disappointed in some things not happening, but I suppose that is what makes the movie so satisfying.

If you need a good film. One that should be Oscar bait, I can really feel comfortable recommending Gone Girl.