Film Review: THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB (USA 2018) **

The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story Poster
Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.


Fede Alvarez


Jay Basu (screenplay by), Fede Alvarez (screenplay by) |3 more credits »

After a hiatus so long that audiences have likely forgotten the story of men-hating bi-sexual heroine Lisbeth Salander, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB appears with all the Hollywood aplomb.  But one should be aware, at least briefly of the history of Lisbeth Salander.

Lisbeth Salander is the Swede heroine of the trilogy of Millennium’ books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl in the Hornet’s Nest) all made into Swedish films with only the first remade by David Fincher into an English Hollywood version.  But the author Steig Larsson has passed away (Dragon Tattoo was published posthumously) and the new book which this film is based on is penned by a new author, Larsson’s successor, David Lagercrantz.

Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) find themselves caught in a web of spies, cyber criminals and corrupt government officials.  The rough story involves her hacking computers trying get code belonging to Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) while her code is stolen.  At the same time, Edwin Neeham (LaKeith Stanfield), a National Security Agency (NSA) security expert is tracking Salander.  Things get complicated with Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks), Lisbeth’s estranged sister, who is the head of a major crime syndicate.

The best of all the films is the original Swede version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO that shocked with its violence and theme where the audience really felt Lisbeth’s trauma, being raped and abused by several men before merging a female vigilante killer.

Uruguay director Nede Alvarez’s (DON’T BREATHE) version shows Lisbeth instead as a female James Bond.   Her job is to save the world just as is the job of Bond in all the Bond movies.  He is less interested in Lisbeth’s drama but more in the film’s action set-pieces that involve countless car chases and explosions. 

Alvarez does not bother about continuity either. In one action scene, Salander fires on a car driven by a kidnapper and the autistic son.  The car is stranded on a bridge and Salander gets the boy out of the car.  Where is the man at this point in time?  He appears two minutes later firing bullets rapidly at them from a machine gun.  The suspended bridge is then lifted.

Not much sense can be made of the technology or gimmicks either.  When the logic of the password is revealed – some spill about prime numbers – the dialogue is so fast as if to prevent the audience from catching on that all this makes no sense.  Anyone can get killed and with Salander almost invincible, the film generates no suspense.  Even the sex scenes, between Salander and her female lover creates no surprise, the audience already aware of her bi-sexuality.

The film is set mainly in Sweden with all the actors speaking with an English or with a Swedish accent.  There is an American character, a black tech expert who has to turn out to be a good guy.

All the originality of the Lisbeth Salandar’s previous films is gone.  What is left is a slick and sloppy thriller, with too many scenes not making much sense.  Don’t get tangled up with this one!   


Film Review: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (USA 2018) ***

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Sorry to Bother You Poster

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe.


Boots Riley


Boots Riley


SORRY TO BOTHER YOU are the words one often hears on the telephone when called by an annoying telemarketer.  Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfiled) has just landed the job as one after an interview where he is discovered for bringing in fake trophies and prizes.  He is told that one only needs to read and come to work with a smiling face to get a job.  But one has to stick to the script (STTS), the most important motto and one that is pinned everywhere in notices around the office cubicles.

The film is set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, where Cassius is having a rough life—living in his uncle’s garage with his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson) and struggling to find a job.  Strapped for cash and desperate, he lands a position as a telemarketer, but has difficulty getting people to listen to him—until he discovers a magical key (introduced to him by a fellow telemarketer played by Danny Glover) to customers’ attention: using his “white voice”.   David Cross does Cassius’ white voice.  Cash quickly rises to the top of the telemarketing hierarchy, but risks losing sight of his morals as he achieves greater and greater success.

Things get crazier when Squeeze (Steven Yeun) organizes a strike.  But Cassius is singled out to become a power seller.  He gets to meet the big guy, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer) and begins working in a stranger environment when the film becomes weirder and weirder as a satire.  Nods are given to the George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where Boxer the horse is a hard, tireless worker but eventually turned into glue when unable to work any longer.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is a complex satire that obviously had a lot of work put into it.  When Cassius gets to work in his cubicle reading his script to a customer in a home, Cassius literally drops into the homes and catches them in odd positions including making love. 

The film contains no real insightful message of things that people do not already know.  Besides having really impressive sets and art direction, and really hard effort put, the film is a mixed mess.  One has to complement the superb coordination of work by the set and art director and writer/director Boots Riley.  Riley follows the company’s motto of sticking to his script though diverting into surrealism as much as opportunities arise.  One thing to be learnt from this effort is that there need be some order in the creation of a satire on disorder.

For all that has been described this overlong feeling film running at 105 minutes feels really boring for the first 30 minutes or so, as Riley sets up the stage for his satire.  His film then kicks into action and pretty crazy action at that.

Though Riley’s SORRY TO BOTHER YOU might be a textbook example of maximum effort and minimum results, one cannot help but give the man (who is supposed to be an activist, musician and artist) credit for trying.  It is this trying and effort that gives his film the most pleasure.




Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY