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The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Based on Stieg Larrson’s ‘Millennium’ book series, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ spawned three Swedish language movies as well as an American remake. Whilst the death of the original author signalled the series was finished, money-making success has a way of resurrecting franchises. ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is derived from David Lagercrantz’s continuation novel and serves as a sequel to the American film. Whilst the motivations behind this cinematic resurrection may be suspect, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ is a different beast with an action focus providing a mostly intense thrill-ride.

Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) still fights for justice. Aided by journalist Mikael (Sverrir Gudnason), Lisbeth uncovers a new web of deception. Discovering a cabal of corrupt politicians and cyber criminals who are running a campaign of terror against helpless prey, Lisbeth and Mikael are caught in a deadly conspiracy. Events swiftly see them in mortal danger as a sinister net from the past closes in around them.

If fans are looking for the same type of dramatic thrills seen in previous films then ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ may disappoint. It offers a more action-orientated spin with Lisbeth becoming a female James Bond complete with totally over the top stunts. Whilst this may agitate admirers of the movies and books, ‘Spider’s Web’ isn’t without its plus points. Chief among them are Foy’s energetic performance and a screenplay delving into why her character behaves as she does. The film rests firmly on her shoulders as Gudnason makes little impact as Mikael.

Fede Alvarez’s direction moves the plot at brisk pace and avoids any slow moments. The sequences shot in Stockholm provide the same type of foreboding beauty seen in the other films and are used to great effect. The main stars here are the stunt team with a pleasing eye for ‘keeping it real’ instead of relying on CGI to achieve results. Although seeing so much action in a ‘Dragon Tattoo’ film may feel unusual, the production team offer another interesting take on well-worn material.

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ works as long as one doesn’t expect to see a re-tread on previous versions of the characters. In this respect, it’s commendable the movie offers something new instead of resting on its laurels. Those who haven’t seen any of the movies should still enjoy it as an action caper with another instalment likely as long as the box office tills keep ringing.

Rating out of 10: 6

Fahrenheit 11/9

Depending on your political persuasion, documentary maker Michael Moore is either a cinematic saint or pariah. Films such as ‘Roger & Me’, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and ‘Sicko’ have polarised discussion. Your enjoyment of his work depends on if you share his views. Whilst the one-sided nature of his documentaries may grate for some, his ability to craft a compelling narrative remains. Nearly 30 years have passed since his debut feature ‘Roger & Me’ and he still hasn’t lost his touch in kicking a hornet’s nest of debate.

His target this time is current American President Donald Trump. Trump’s vocal soundbites and actions have been endlessly dissected since he stormed into office nearly 2 years ago. For good or bad, his daily activities have provided countless world headlines and you’d think there’d be little new for Moore to talk about. Given his history of digging into the behind the scenes shenanigans of powerful interests, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ explores how Trump came to be elected and what affect it has had on the world. He also examines how Trump’s previous forays into ‘reality TV’ have made him a master of media manipulation with media skills just as important as political ones.

Moore’s film-making abilities are evident when he turns to his favourite American city Flint, Michigan. Often a focal point for his previous films, Flint has been a town that has seen it used as a pawn for all sides of politics. This time, Moore sees the effect recent political decisions has had on it and isn’t afraid in laying the blame to those he feels deserves it. It’s this foray into small-town America that gives ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ its crucial personal touch away from often confusing political games. Interviewing health professionals and ordinary people who are tired of inaction, Moore successfully teases out the frustrations many feel world-wide in what’s seen as a broken system of government.

Occasionally Moore goes too far in his claims about certain individuals. Whilst people’s dreadful actions do need to be caught out, a few sequences feel over-egged. That’s not to say particular issues aren’t true but hard evidence to prove such claims go a long way in backing up any argument. As always Moore uses humour to prove his points which are as effective as his more dramatic moments. His interviews with prospective politicians who want to change the system prove very interesting and mirror much of the grassroots campaigns Australia has recently seen. These segments provide highlights as the narrative often wanders away from the main topic and feels like two movies in one.

‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ isn’t quite the bitter pill against Trump one was expecting. Whilst the American President hardly emerges unscathed, the film’s unfocussed nature dilutes a few of the points Moore wants to make. But as a rallying call to never just accept what’s dished out then ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ delivers a mostly solid wake-up call all need to fight for the rights of those around us.

Rating out of 10: 7