Esther McCarthy reviews The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Robin Hood
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (15A) ***
CLAIRE FOY SEEMED like an inspired choice to reboot the Hollywood series of Steig Larsson’s much-loved Millennium series centred on Lisbeth Salander, a tough but conflicted character who rescues women who suffer violence and takes vengeance against their attackers.
But the US take on the series continues to feel like a pared-down version of the original stories. While it works very effectively as a conventional thriller, and Foy is convincing and compelling as the lead, the movie lacks the edginess of the novels.
In this movie, the greatest threat Lisbeth faces is from within her own family. We are reminded of her disturbing, traumatic past as a victim of sexual assaults, beginning as a child at the hands of her own father.
The opening scenes depict the character literally stringing up a male abuser and urging his victim to leave him. She’s contacted by former National Security adviser Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) who asks her to assist him with a hefty task. He has developed an elaborate computer programme that can access and control nuclear weapons worldwide, but is now fearful that the programme will be accessed by the wrong people. He needs her to help him steal it from his former employers.
But her primary foe is her own sister, Camilla, who also wants to get her hands on the programme and relishes the opportunity, in doing so, to lock horns with the sister she believes betrayed her.
It’s difficult to know where the series has left to go, given that this film skips novels two and three in Larsson’s trilogy, and is based on a novel written years after his death. Her relationship with journalist Mikael Blomkvist also feels underdeveloped and underplayed.
Robin Hood (12A) **
A GAME YOUNG CAST aim to add a modern edge to a classic tale. But the latest Robin Hood movie falls short of convincing us that this story needed retelling.
Still, at least this latest carnation aims to come at the tale from a different angle. Directed by Otto Bathurst, who helmed the first three Peaky Blinders episodes, the movie sets out to reinvent Robin for a younger audience courtesy of gritty fight scenes, costumes and sets with a contemporary nod and a modern soundtrack.
Unfortunately, it all feels like it’s trying too hard, though there’s some non-taxing fun to be had. This film pits Robin as a war-toughened Crusader, weary and dejected from battle, who returns home to find Marian (Hewson) convinced he has died and in the arms of Jamie Dornan.
With all of that going on, does he have the guts to take on The Sheriff of Nottingham (an over-the-top Mendelsohn) as he oversees a regime that’s growing increasingly violent and corrupt?
It’s bombastic, silly and forgettable but the latest Robin Hood never takes itself too seriously.