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!?
Blade Runner 2049 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Sony Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Yup! Blade Runner sure was a movie, wasn’t it? I mean I was always more into eighties Carpenter than eighties Scott, but it’s clearly a movie that’s impact can still be felt to this day from science fiction films like The Matrix and Dark City to anime like Ghost in the Shell and Akira. Heck, even the live action Ghost in the Shell looks as much like the original Blade Runner as it does the source material! Many of us have been living in this film’s shadow for as long as we’ve been alive, and so the prospect of a sequel seems rather quixotic considering how hard it would be to not only live up to that movie’s actual merits but to also live up to the sense of scope and impact that it ended up leaving in its wake. Does the director of that one movie where Jake Gyllenhaal meets a giant spider have what it takes to stand with one of the titans of the genre, or will this project collapse faster than Rutger Hauer’s plan to not die at the age of four? Let’s find out!!
One more thing! Some people may consider a pertinent detail that we learn five minutes into the movie to be a spoiler. I don’t REALLY see it as a spoiler considering how early it is in the movie, but I figure I’ll just put up a SPOILER WARNING here just in case you want to go in completely blind. TURN BACK NOW IF YOU MUST!!
We good? Okay, so the year is 2049 and the movie begins with Agent K (Ryan Gosling) who we learn within the first five minutes of the movie is a replicant which is an artificially created human but ALSO a cop for the LAPD. A Blade Runner in fact which is a cop that specifically hunts replicants! Hence the title… though I’m still not sure WHY they’re called that considering he uses a gun and tends to leisurely stroll from place to place. Anyway, replicants haven’t been a problem for a while now as the CURRENT big bad organization Wallace Corp has fixed all the kinks that were in the Nexus 6 models from the first film (they had a tendency to rebel and kill humans) but K still has to hunt down these old timers whenever one crosses their path and we see him at the start of one of these missions as the movie begins. Once the deed is done (in GRUESOME detail), he ALSO discovers something else that’s on the replicant’s property that shouldn’t be there but holds secrets that could turn this world on its head. Oh, and in case you were wondering OF COURSE Deckard (Harrison Ford) is somehow involved, so K has to not only find answers as to what exactly they found but where it came from and who else knows about it. While on this super-secret assignment that I’m not gonna spoil, he also has to contend with Wallace Corp head honcho Niander (Jared Leto) as well as his replicant assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who seem to know exactly what’s going on and are keeping tabs on him just in case he either discovers too much or finds something that they’re looking for as well. Will K unlock the mysteries that are so mysterious that they can’t be discussed here? Will they in some way deal with his mysterious past which is a mystery even to him? JUST HOW MANY SECRETS CAN ONE MOVIE HAVE!?
“This is GREAT! What’s your secret?” “I’M NOT TELLING YOU!!”