The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Posted on November 8, 2018 at 5:48 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Extended peril and violence, explosions, guns, fights, torture, parent killed in front of child, domestic and child abuse, incest, very graphic and disturbing images, characters injured and killed, suicide
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 9, 2018

Copyright 2018 Columbia Pictures
Remember in “League of Their Own” when Tom Hanks said, “There’s no crying in baseball?” Well, there’s no crying in Lisbeth Salander movies, or there should not be. As imagined by the late Swedish journalist and author Steig Larsson, Lisbeth Salander is a pierced, tattooed, bisexual, motorcycle-riding, 21st century Sherlock Holmes, cerebral, relentless, on the side of justice, and with a mastery of logic, observation, and detail that borders on a superpower. And good in a fight.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is the first film based on the authorized continuation of the series by Larsson’s family, and here she is played by “The Crown’s” Claire Foy, following Noomi Rapace (in the Swedish movie trilogy) and Rooney Mara (in the David Fincher English-language film based on the first book in the series). There’s a subtle difference in the title of the book that reflects a shift in tone. The first book’s title is descriptive: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, both references to risks taken by Salander, with the implication that it was intentional. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is not about a choice she made or a dare she braved. There’s no action verb here. There’s no choice to adorn her body with a symbol of strength and fire. This title suggests a girl who has been placed in danger. Salenger as a damsel in distress? I don’t think so.

And then, like those last seasons of “Bewitched,” when they had really run out of ideas, the movie presents us with a sister we knew nothing about who apparently has been just waiting through three books to show up. We get a flashback of the two girls playing chess with, yes, a spider crawling on one of the pieces, before some very, very nasty stuff begins to happen with the girls’ father, who we already know from the earlier books was a very, very, very evil guy.

We go to these movies to see Lisbeth Salander hack, be invincibly tough, and right wrongs. She hacks into the US National Security Agency mainframe and downloads their most dangerous file. In a brief prelude she goes after a domestic abuser and we learn that she has been avenging other abused women. And she repeatedly takes a licking and keeps on ticking. But here the McGuffin is a computer program that can access and activate any nuclear weapons in the world, created for NSA (Stephen Merchant) who now regrets it and wants it destroyed. So he asks Salander for her help, bringing his young son along (Christopher Convery), just to ramp up the threat element. Salander gets the file, to the considerable consternation of NSA’s Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), who goes uses his considerable computing power to track down Salander, in a race with some very, very bad guys who want the file, too.

So, it’s your basic run with a gun stuff, ably staged if nothing particularly gripping, until the crying. Salander’s friend (and Larsson stand-in) Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) appears briefly for no particular reason. Foy does fine with Salanger’s thousand yard stare but the script lets her down by trying to have her be vulnerable and tough at the same time. Tbey’ve taken one of the most arresting characters in recent fiction and made her into just another sad girl. And they’ve taken what began as a superior series of action films and turned it into just another night-at-the-multiplex, sequel-heavy formula movie. If Salanger is caught in a spider’s web, it’s not the blah blah about the secret computer file, it’s the blah blah of the filmmakers.

Parents should know that this film has very intense and graphic peril and violence, disturbing images, characters injured and killed, death of a parent, torture, guns, explosions, severe spouse and child abuse, sexual abuse, very strong language, drinking, smoking and drugs.

Family discussion: What should Lisbeth have done for her sister? Why did they make different choices?

If you like this, try: the Swedish “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo” trilogy

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Lisbeth Salander is Coming Back to the Screen

Posted on March 19, 2017 at 8:00 am

All three of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” films were made in Sweden with Noomi Rapace, but only the first was filmed in English, with Rooney Mara. Now, for the first time, the fourth book in the series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written by David Lagercrantz after the death of Stieg Larsson, is going to be filmed, with a new English-speaking cast.

IndieWire has some intriguing suggestions for the part of Salander. All are such good choices I hope it inspires casting directors to consider them for a bunch of new women-led action films.

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Actors Great Characters

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Posted on July 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity, and language
Profanity: Very strong and explicit language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking
Violence/ Scariness: Very graphic and disturbing violence including rape
Diversity Issues: Strong female character, character with possible Asperger syndrome
Date Released to Theaters: November 7, 2009
Date Released to DVD: July 6, 2010
Amazon.com ASIN: B003FBNJ4U

If you have not read any of the Millennium trilogy of novels by Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson, someone near you has. A worldwide sensation published after the death of the author, the books follow the title character, Lisbeth Salandar, a slight but tough and determined young woman who is a genius with computers but possibly Aspergian in her inability to connect to other people.

This film, based on the first of the books, comes out on DVD just as the second film with the same cast is released in theaters and the third book has been published in the US. It won the Swedish equivalent of the Oscar for best film and best actress for Noomi Rapace as Salander.

They are already working on an American version, but it is hard to imagine that it could match this superb adaptation, utterly true to the book and yet completely cinematic. As the story begins, a character much like Larsson takes center stage. He is Mikael Blomkvist (superbly played by Michael Nyqvist), a journalist in disgrace and about to go to jail for publishing false information about a powerful businessman. As he waits to begin to serve his term, he is offered an intriguing opportunity — a wealthy man hires him to investigate the disappearance of his favorite niece, forty years ago. Salander finds out what he is doing and begins to help him, at first anonymously, and then more directly. Together, they get tangled up in a world where every rule is violated, every promise broken, every loyalty betrayed.

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