Not to Be Underestimated: The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Written by Emily Laird


#FILMFRIDAY


Have you noticed how some film sequels just feel like they are written by someone completely unrelated to the original? No? Oh well you’re just in luck because we have something interesting to tell you about one of the most interesting film franchises to date. We sure did learn a lot. Like maybe that unrelated sequel may have more to value than meets the eye.


Written By Emily Laird

 


DIFFERENT DIRECTION


The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a diversion in terms of its original source material, it was written by David Lagercrantz, not the original series creator Stieg Larsson. The film was also written by Lagercrantz. As a fan of the original Larsson books and of the Swedish films, I went into this one with a very open mind. I also enjoyed and appreciated David Fincher’s adaption of the first film.


Critic’s opinions of the movie are very mixed. I will agree that it is a troubled movie with some plot issues, I still don’t think that it’s importance should be underestimated. We are going to talk about why that is.




From Imdb.com, Claire Foy as a gritty, yet commercial, Lisbeth Salander.


Why choose an arguably divisive movie to look into for this edition of #FilmFriday? Well, I’ll tell you why. Elizabeth Salander is a fascinating character, that’s why. She’s female but not ‘classically’ feminine, she is not exactly masculine either, we know she’s bisexual too. Already we have so much to examine through the lens of gender. This aspect of the story is a rarity in commercial movies nowadays, and it should not be. Big studios need to make more movies like this, with more strong and intriguing characters like Lisbeth.


 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKMSP9OKspQ



“Showing athletic grace and a knack for always being a dozen steps ahead of her pursuers, Foy has a ball with the role while also supplying the nuance and grace notes that the too-busy script leaves out. […] It’s Foy who holds us in thrall by taking us deeper into who Lisbeth is than ever before”

(Rolling Stone. Travers, Peter, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Review: Claire Foy Is Ready to Kick Your Ass, https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-movie-review-752107/).


Travers perfectly highlights why the movie should not be underestimated; She is an intellectual and physical powerhouse. The movie did not land high up on critic’s list the year of its release, but what does that really mean to the individual anyway? In the grand scope of socially conscious commercial movies, critics should be happier to sing Lisbeth’s praises.

Another critic smartly highlighted the action elements of the movie; “This sequel tries to celebrate the character’s status as a feminist hero, making her the film’s clear center piece and relegating her journalist colleague and occasional paramour Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) to the margins. On screen, Salander has always been a resourceful protagonist, but in Spider’s Web she engages in the sort of high-octane adventure we’re used to from Bond and Bourne” (Screen Daily. Grierson, Tim, 'The Girl In The Spider's Web': Review, Oct 24, 2018. https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-review/5133922.article).


This is an important aspect to think about because the James Bond and Bourne franchises are very popular and very profitable. Such an action forward franchise led by a woman would be a much-needed addition to the commercial American movie landscape. Therefore, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is important. After this release theatergoers saw the releases of movies like Captain Marvel (2019), Dark Phoenix (2019), Alita: Battle Angel (2019) and now the upcoming Black Widow (2020).


As movie fans, we all grasp the kind of domino effect that happens when production companies follow one another’s trends. The female action hero has been taking shape more strongly in commercial movies since the release of Atomic Blonde in 2017.


Oliver Jones from The Observer takes a similar stance as me in his review of the movie; “The Girl in the Spider’s Web [is] chockablock with action and violence but never chaotic or overstuffed—such an unexpected pleasure.


HIDDEN UNDER SHADOW


We noticed that while we waited for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel that film blockbuster season, The Girl in The Spider's Web was under marketed. And another film was touted as the rare superhero film fronted by a woman, when this film shows that day had already arrived. Not only is the terse Lisbeth endlessly powerful—she overcomes a bullet wound with little more than superglue and a stapler—but her strength comes directly from her feminine identity, which makes The Girl in the Spider’s Web the most unique and uniquely gratifying action film this year” (The Observer. Jones, Oliver. ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Is the Female-Fronted Kick-Ass Movie We’ve Been Desperate For, https://observer.com/2018/11/girl-in-the-spiders-web-review-claire-foy-in-2018s-best-action-film/).



Bringing up the female-driven action movie concept is a key component to the importance of this movie. Some viewers and critics make this point loud and clear, while others argue the opposite. But this is the joy of discussing movies and the privilege of artistic opinion after all. We all have our views, and they are all important and interesting. In order to better understand one another each story needs to be told, no story will be the same and that's the best part.


BREAKING BARRIERS


Lisbeth Salander unsettles the typical gender stereotypes. She is a protagonist that evades previously understood gender classifications. It’s this rejection of conformity that makes her such a fascinating character to study. It’s also what makes The Girl in the Spider’s Web such an important commercial release. With all its flaws, I still recommend the movie. Foy does a beautiful job as Lisbeth, and the cinematography is stunning. That is much more than can be said about movies in theaters these days. As a long-time fan of the books and other versions of the movies, I really wanted to see this become a smash-hit. The movie will remain a success in my mind, despite its flaws.




Also… this is a really dope tattoo!




Want more reviews from Emily? Further readings available at: medium.com/@thefilmjournal


Presented by Dark Mind

Written by Emily E Laird.

4/3/2020




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