The Girl in the Spider's Web, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Robin Hood
Welcome back, my fellow movie fans! I’m giving you guys another triple feature film review. There won’t be many triple features on my website because I don’t want you guys to feel overwhelmed, but the end of the year had quite a few releases. I’m covering a crime thriller called The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the infamous Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and the newest rendition of Robin Hood. All of these films have different strengths, weaknesses, tones, genres, etc. Which movie impressed me the most? Keep reading to find out. As always, you can return multiple times to break up a long read. You can also skip over the films that don’t seem appealing. Let’s dive right in!
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a combination of traditional crime thriller, hacking, action, and slight noir elements. It’s a direct sequel to David Fincher’s The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo. I suppose it’s a soft reboot of the franchise with a brand new cast. The story focuses on a Swedish vigilante and computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. A computer programmer named Frans Balder recruits Salander to steal and destroy project Firewall. It’s a program that can take control of the entire world’s nuclear codes, which would be deadly in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, terrorists and enemies from Salander’s past also want this dangerous program. The results include violence, intrigue, and deception.
I’ll begin with my favorite parts of the movie. Claire Foy gives an excellent performance as Lisbeth Salander. She’s a damaged and brooding vigilante who believes the ends justify the means. I wish she had more character development, but Foy’s overall performance brought a lot of depth and emotion to the film’s protagonist. She’s an effective antihero and it’s easy to root for her. Salander has a dark past that led to a lifetime of trust issues. In a way, she’s a tragic figure who steps into a lot of gray area.
The film is visually appealing with beautiful environments and decent cinematography. The audience gets a solid look at Stockholm and other parts of the country. This is a small scale movie with really good world building. It brings some flavor to an otherwise bland film.
Even though the movie is a real slog, it gets much better in the third act. The later parts of the film are more exciting with better action sequences and crime thriller elements. It also seems like the characters become more interesting as the story pushes along. The third act answers important questions and provides a reasonably satisfying ending.
Sadly, I felt quite underwhelmed with this movie. It’s incredibly slow, dry, and boring. Most of the action scenes are very short and cheap looking. The plot isn’t particularly interesting and it doesn’t make much of an effort to maintain the viewer’s attention. I expected mystery, thrills, and unexpected turns, but this film doesn’t have those elements.
The supporting characters are disappointing and underdeveloped. Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist and one of Salander’s allies. He’s also a failed love interest. I thought his character was boring and the male equivalent of a damsel in distress. Sylvia Hoeks plays Camilla Salander, Lisbeth’s evil twin sister who wants to control Firewall. Her performance is pretty good, but she’s not in the film very often. A significant lack of screen time makes it difficult for Camilla to be an effective villain. I can barely remember the other characters because they 're so bland and uninspired.
One element seems quite strange. Salander is basically a superhero who’s very similar to Batman. However, Batman is a significantly better superhero. She’s a broody vigilante who can take down any villain physically, mentally, and digitally. Usually, the Dragon Tattoo stories are a little more realistic. But this one goes beyond my suspension of belief sometimes.
Overall, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is an inferior version of Mission Impossible and James Bond. We’ve seen these plot points in other action films. I wish the director put in more effort to separate this film from similar stories. It’s less exciting, slower, and not as sophisticated compared to similar franchises. The Dragon Tattoo series might be dead in the water because it’s not making very much money in theaters. That’s too bad because the series has an interesting premise.
I recommend skipping this movie entirely. You’re not missing anything significant. I doubt fans of the book series will enjoy it. Action movie buffs will find it way too slow for their taste. Sorry, but I want to be honest.
Now I’m moving on to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It takes place in 1927, some time after the events of the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Gellert Grindelwald is a criminal and cultist who’s trying to recruit large numbers of pure-blood wizards for his sadistic cause. He wants to take over the wizarding world and eliminate non-magical people from existence. Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore recruits the film’s protagonist, Newt Scammander, to find someone who could be valuable in the fight against Grindelwald. The entire film is a race against time with mystery, adventure, romance, and magical creatures galore.
This isn’t my favorite installment in the Wizarding World, but it has some good elements. A couple of characters stood out. Johnny Depp gave a solid performance as Grindelwald. He’s probably the most interesting character in the movie. It’s easy to understand why he can recruit and brainwash so many people. Grindelwald is manipulative and seductive with a convincing ideology. I find him really creepy. Jude Law was really good as Dumbledore. He gave a spot on performance in the vein of Richard Harris and Michael Gambon. Dumbledore comes across as righteous, stubborn, compassionate, and a bit eccentric. He’s exactly what a Harry Potter fan should expect. I just wish he had more screen time.
The central plot is pretty decent. I have an issue with the multitude of subplots, but the main story has a really solid direction and seems quite believable. Throughout history, zealots, terrorists, and crime lords recruited vulnerable people who wanted to belong somewhere. That part reflects clearly in The Crimes of Grindelwald. The antagonist can brainwash the most unsuspecting individuals and it makes him incredibly dangerous. His motivations are also very clear. So, the viewer can’t say the main story doesn’t explain anything.
I really enjoy the fantasy elements and action scenes. Even though the film drags along, it has periodic action sequences that are quite exciting. Sometimes this film is really fun and creative with unexpected twists. It’s a magical adventure, which is unique compared to generic action movies. I need to be vague because lengthy descriptions will give away spoilers. If nothing else, watch this film for the adventure elements.
What about the titular fantastic beasts? You’ll find plenty of them in this movie. The creatures are probably the best part. There’s a variety of beasts, ranging from huge, tiny, adorable, terrifying, and everything in between. Don’t worry about the trailers giving everything away. You’ll see many creature scenes that weren’t in the trailers. They brought a really fun element to an otherwise dark and gloomy story.
I have a lot of criticism about this film. First of all, it’s very slow and frequently boring. The film makers inserted exciting action scenes in between long and boring sections. I understand everything perfectly fine, but it isn't very interesting. The story also diverges into multiple tangents, which makes the movie seem even slower. It has dreadful pacing issues.
The Crimes of Grindelwald also has too many characters. This film is stuffed with an ensemble cast who is underdeveloped and not remotely intriguing. Very few characters have a chance to shine because their screen time is so thin. I’m not a fan of the protagonist. Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scammander and his acting isn’t the problem. The character is just weird, awkward, and out of place in a fantasy adventure. He’s not a man of action and I don’t understand how this character can be valuable in a wizarding war. Multiple female characters have crushes on him and I don’t understand how that’s possible. Some of you might remember Nagini from the original Harry Potter films. She’s a Maledictus who can transform into a giant snake. Don’t get particularly excited because her character is pretty minor.
Part of the issue is a plethora of subplots. I wouldn’t mind if they were more relevant to the main story with better characters. However, the subplots mostly add confusion and extra time. For example, there are multiple romances and none of them are great. Some of the subplots throw cookies at the audience from the original Harry Potter movies, but they mostly waste time. The Crimes of Grindelwald would have been stronger if the subplots were scaled down.
I also believe this film is more worried about setting up a sequel than telling a good story. That’s unfortunate because J.K. Rowling is usually a phenomenal storyteller. She wrote the screenplay and it doesn’t seem like her typical work. In a way, The Crimes of Grindelwald seems like filler material that’s just taking up time before the next film comes to theaters.
Is this movie worth watching in theaters? It depends on the viewer. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, check it out. You might like it better than I did. This film might not appeal to casual moviegoers because you need a pretty strong knowledge of the Wizarding World. Many people could probably wait until it comes out on streaming services and cable.
My final review covers the new Robin Hood film. Naturally, it’s about a young man named Robin of Loxley who lived during the Crusades. He was a nobleman who went to war during the Sheriff of Nottingham’s reign of terror. After Robin returned from the war, his estate was seized by the Sheriff. He teams up with Little John, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck to free the townspeople from the Sheriff’s tyrannical tax laws. The overall story is an unconventional adventure that differs vastly from traditional tales about Robin Hood.
This is a pretty weak film. The best elements are good entertainment value and action scenes. It’s a fast paced movie with a big emphasis on adventure. The film isn’t boring and it’s kind of fun. I think a lot of kids would enjoy it. Basically, it’s better if you don’t think too hard. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Most of this review will reflect negatively on the film. It’s just not a very good movie. First of all, none of the characters are decent. In fact, the performances are disappointing as well. It has a solid cast with reputable actors like Taron Edgerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as John, Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and others. Unfortunately, nobody is giving a great performance and all of the characters are unimpressive. I guess the director didn’t put in an effort to work with the actors.
This movie is also quite strange. It’s adding a lot of modern elements in the Medieval period. For example, the soldiers are wearing outfits that resemble modern Army fatigues. The Sheriff and other aristocratic characters are wearing clothes that have a lot of influences from modern business suits. Robin Hood wears hoodies and trench coats that look like Halloween costumes. There was a huge party that looked like the Capital festivities in The Hunger Games with glitter, fur coats, tons of makeup, bizarre hairdos, etc. Some of the architecture looks somewhat contemporary as well. I saw a wall with a bunch of metal rivets. It’s really weird.
The story is awful too. It’s disjointed and nonsensical. Ben Chandler and David James Kelly wrote the screenplay, most likely with the intent of making a unique Robin Hood story. It gets rid of the political and socioeconomic critique that makes the original Robin Hood tale interesting. Overall, it’s a fast action flick that uses style over substance. There’s very little meaning in the story and parts of it don’t make a lot of sense. It’s also a young adult romance in the vein of television shows on MTV and Freeform. Major parts of the story borrow elements from other movies and shows, including the CW’s Arrow, The Hunger Games, V for Vendetta, The Three Musketeers, and The Dark Knight Rises. That’s why it doesn’t work. The screenplay is a mish mash of multiple plots.
You should probably skip this one entirely. I saw much better action films this year. Buy Mission Impossible-Fallout on Blu-Ray instead. It was released for home viewing a couple weeks ago. If you’re curious about Robin Hood, wait for it to come out on Netflix, Amazon Video, or another streaming service. I don’t believe anyone needs to pay for it.
That’s the end of my triple feature review. I’m not particularly impressed with any of these movies, but that’s what happens sometimes. We still have a few more releases coming out in December, including Mortal Engines, Bumblebee, and Aquaman. I’m sure those movies will be much better. Good luck with your holiday plans and watch out for next week’s post.
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