Tough to Follow Brilliance: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The film The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a solid conventional Hollywood production.  And now comes the but…

It follows the original three The Girl... novels of the Millenium Series. The Millenium TV Series in Swedish. The Girl movies in Swedish starring Naomi Rapace. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in English starring Rooney Mara. All brilliant bodies of work.  Steig Larsson, the creator of these works, died in 2004.

David Lagercrantz was contracted to continue with the Millenium Series novels.  He has produced two with favorable results in terms of reviews and sales.  The first novel: The Girl in the Spider’s Web was published in 2015. The second novel: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye was published in 2017. I have read both books, and they are good reads.

If you know nothing of the original works and have not viewed the movies, The Girl in the Spider’s Web would be considered a pretty solid worthwhile watch.  It is a thriller made using good, predictable, and reliable Hollywood playbook formulas for the genre.

Unfortunately viewers who are familiar with the original works (like me) may feel cheated and or deprived by this latest installment. With The Girl in the Spider’s Web there is no exotic otherworldly Lizbeth or tawdry pot-boiler storyline that contains a dash of naughtiness and sin added for extra measure.  There is no eclectic and memorable musical score such as that by Trent Raznor.  Director Fede Alvarez creates no riveting feel to the presentation when compared to what was accomplished by David Fincher, Niels Arden Oplev, or Daniel Alfredson.

Instead The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a by the book and by the numbers production.  For example, Claire Foy (The Crown, Unsane, First Man) plays the role Lizbeth.  Foy is becoming Hollywood’s choice for Leading Lady in films – with 3 releases alone in 2018.  Foy is girl-next door “pretty.” In First Man, Foy is superb as Janet Armstrong.  In this film it is as if 10 minutes of makeup and a few clip-on nose and earrings were used to make Foy look like Lizbeth.  However in comparison, Rapace and Mara transformed every aspect of their being and turned into Lizbeth.

Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs McEnroe) as Mikael Blomkvist and Vicky Krieps (Hanna, A Most Wanted Man, Phantom Thread) are excellent actors with great performances on their respective resume’s.  However, both in this film feel as if they are mannequins when compared to the other actors who have played these roles.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is worthy of a viewing, just do not expect it to be similar in any fashion to the earlier works.

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