Brahms: The Boy II and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by William Brent Bell
You’re unlikely to find a bigger cheerleader for The Boy than me, so when the trailers started coming out for this sequel four years after everyone else had forgotten about it AND it looked like a truly awful mess, well let’s just say that my spirits weren’t very high for this. Seriously, that bit where Katie Holmes makes a face in the trailer and they play the clichéd horror movie sting is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in something allegedly trying to sell you on a movie, and it was so disappointing to see how little they seemed to care about this considering just how good the first one was! I guess getting excited for horror sequels is in and of itself a fool’s errand, but who knows what it’ll REALLY be like before we get a chance to see it. Maybe there are some hidden depths to this that the studio was scared to give away in the trailers, much like the first film, and this is truly worth successor! Yeah, I’m doubtful as well but let’s find out!!
Taking place sometime after the events of the first film, we follow Liza (Katie Holmes) and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) who had a traumatic experience with a break in; leaving her with headaches and night terrors while Jude became mute and now communicates with a notebook. In an effort to try and get them past this, the father and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) decides to take them on a trip to someplace out in the country where they can get away from it all and reconnect as a family! As it just so happens however, the place they decide to stay in is a hereto unknown guest house (ugh…) of the mansion from the first film, and said mansion has fallen into disrepair under the new owner Joseph (Ralph Ineson) who’s been trying to fix it up but can only do so much as one guy. Of course, Jude ends up finding the Brahms doll somewhere and IMMEDIATELY attaches himself to it which seems to at least be doing a good job of opening him up a bit, but it comes with other weird behaviors and a set of rules that must be followed or else the doll will get very cross with them. Liza’s naturally worried about all this and isn’t helped by her ghastly nightmares of the break in, but Sean isn’t exactly convinced the doll is evil (just a little bit creepy) and believes that Liza is overacting despite the many strange things that start to happen around the guesthouse and Jude’s increasingly bizarre behavior. Is there some secret to the doll that wasn’t in the last film that Liza must uncover in this one? Is Jude being manipulated by whatever it was in the last film, or is there something else that’s terrifying this family? I’m not even sure why they’re friends to be honest. Doesn’t seem like they’d have a lot in common.
“Did you kill your parents yet?” “NO! STOP ASKING!” “Alright! All I’m saying is that the knives are right there-” “What, and you’re gonna help me clean up the mess?” “Oh, you are just IMPOSSIBLE today!”
The Girl in the Spider’s Web and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Fede Álvarez
A bit of context is perhaps in order before we get started. I haven’t seen the Fincher film or the Swedish films, but I have read the first book and got a bit through the second one and enjoyed them both. I don’t actually KNOW if this is based on one of the books or the post-humus stuff that Stieg Larsson had written down somewhere (probably could have looked that up before going to see this) and where exactly this is supposed to “exist” as far as some sort of continuity, so the phrase of the day is CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. I do think that Lisbeth Salander is an interesting character and the idea of making more or less standalone movies with her is a solid idea. However, this still seems like a pretty big gamble across the board, what with David Fincher no longer being involved, this more or less being the third iteration of the franchise in a decade, and frankly I don’t know if anyone is really still talking about Stieg Larsson’s books anymore to warrant another film about this character. However, all that is kind of outside my wheelhouse as a critic since I’m here to tell you if the movie is good and not how much money it’s gonna make. What’s REALLY important is if this version of the movie (with a heavily slashed budget) can capture what made these books and this character so compelling in the first place, or if this is just a brazen attempt to squeeze a few more bucks out of an obviously dead horse. Let’s find out!!
Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is a computer hacker in Sweden who’s gone through some TERRIBLE abuse in her life that may or may not have been covered in the books (it at least takes place after the first one but I have no idea if it incorporates the other two), but there’s really no need to go into it in detail. She’s a vigilante hacker, she helped the reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) solve at least one mystery in the recent past, and she occasionally takes on jobs that pique her interest. One such job comes to her from SUPER COMPUTER PROGRAMMER Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) who worked for the NSA and begs her to steal a program he wrote for them which would allow the user to more or less take control of all the world’s satellites and therefore take control of all the nukes… I think. I mean it sure SOUNDS scary enough, so Lisbeth agrees to steal it and manages to do so with very little effort and at the consternation of Frans’s successor at the NSA Edwin Needham (LaKeith Stanfield) who travels to Sweden to try and get it back. He’s not the only one after the program however because very soon after she steals it her SUPER HACKER WAREHOUSE is attacked by dudes in masks who work for a very illusive crime organization that may or may not have some connection to Lisbeth’s past. With total nuclear annihilation now on the table, Lisbeth is adamant to get the program back which involves finding where Frans and his young son August (Christopher Convery) have run off to in the ensuing chaos, avoid the attention of Swedish Secret Service agent Gabriella Grane (Synnøve Macody Lund), and get Mikael involved once again to see if his SUPER JOURNALISM SKILLS can make sense of all this. Will Lisbeth Salander save the world from nuclear devastation and stop whatever EVIL organization has their eyes set on using it? Can she protect everyone she cares about from whatever is that seems to be targeting her, or will she lose whatever few connections she still has left to the rest of the world? How does she manage to look so bad ass even with that Moe Howard haircut!?