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The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story is the fifth Lisbeth Salander movie (though only the second made in the United States), the first to star Claire Foy, and the first not adapted from the original Stieg Larsson trilogy. Like the earlier films based on Larsson's work, it's extremely violent, with implications of abuse (including a father sexually abusing his daughters), a horrific image of a man's destroyed nose, and Lisbeth gluing and stapling closed a gaping wound on her back. There are also guns and shooting, fighting, falling, snapping bones, bloody wounds, dead bodies, car crashes, explosions, and more. Expect some pretty graphic sexual content, too, with brief nudity, a short video featuring explicit sex (a man enters a woman from behind, with thrusting and moaning), suggestions of Lisbeth having multiple lovers, and other sexual material. Language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. Characters smoke and drink, and Lisbeth smashes up and snorts amphetamine pills.
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What's the story?
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB: A NEW DRAGON TATTOO STORY flashes back to Lisbeth Salander's childhood with her sister, Camilla, and their abusive father. Lisbeth attempts to escape with her sister but winds up only getting herself out. Years later, the grown Lisbeth (Claire Foy) continues to use her hacking skills to track down and punish hateful men. She gets an offer to steal a piece of dangerous, weapons-oriented software and return it to its creator (Stephen Merchant), but she finds that a murderous organization called the Spiders is also after it. Lisbeth enlists the aid of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) and an American NSA agent, Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield) -- who was hoping to secure the software for the USA -- to put an end to the trouble. But Lisbeth gets a surprise when she discovers just who's behind it all.
Is it any good?
This fifth movie in the "Girl" series offers Foy as a strong new Lisbeth Salander, but the movie doesn't quite work. It takes itself far too seriously for its ridiculous plot and flat supporting characters. The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story is the first film in the franchise to be adapted from a novel by David Lagercrantz, who took over the series from the late Stieg Larsson. The first three movies, based on Larsson's books, were made in Sweden with Noomi Rapace; then David Fincher directed a very strong American version of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara. Despite how perfectly Foy clicks into the hard, fierce leading role, this new movie feels like a big step down from its predecessors.
Director Fede Alvarez has done well enough with smaller-scale horror movies, but all he can manage here is to shake the camera during fight scenes. The plot's prize -- the software that allows anyone with a computer access to the world's nuclear codes -- is flat-out dumb, and the characters' motivations for obtaining it are equally shaky. (Spoiler alert!) Camilla, perhaps intended to flesh out Lisbeth's past, is nothing more than a one-dimensional psychopath who's totally uninteresting, and journalist Blomkvist has almost nothing to do. Not even interesting actors like Merchant or Stanfield can add anything to their roles as a computer genius and an NSA agent, respectively; they're so generically written that virtually anyone could have played them. Only Foy comes out well here. If the series manages to continue after this dud, she could be a highlight.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is sex depicted? Is it portrayed as meaningful or "just for fun"? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Is Lisbeth a role model? Is she in charge of her own actions? Does it matter that her actions are iffy if her intentions are admirable?
How does this movie compare to the other Lisbeth Salander films? Have the characters evolved or changed? If so, how?
- In theaters: November 9, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2019
- Cast: Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield, Sverrir Gudnason
- Director: Fede Alvarez
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.