Sa­lan­der back but it’s more Hol­ly­wood than gritty

Rotorua Daily Post - - Entertainment - Ben Ot­tewell

THE GIRL IN THE SPI­DER’S WEB

Di­rec­tor: Fede Al­varez Cast: Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Sver­rir Gud­na­son, Vicky Krieps, Stephen Mer­chant, Lakeith Stan­field, Claes Bang Run­ning time: 117 min­utes ★★

The an­ti­so­cial hacker and ball­breaker Lis­beth Sa­lan­der has fi­nally made a re­turn to the big screen in this adap­ta­tion of David Lager­crantz’s fourth book of the Mil­len­nium se­ries.

De­part­ing from the brood­ing drama and gritty vi­o­lence of Stieg Lars­son’s first three sto­ries, this tale in­stead heads down the more con­ven­tional Hol­ly­wood path.

Gone is the laser-fo­cused in­dict­ment of misog­yny. Gone is the To quote the Melody Maker circa 1998, “The sound of a buf­falo be­ing back ended into a wood chip­per.”

Are you still play­ing the gui­tar­lele?

Yep, the one I have is cus­tom made by a guy called Roger Buck­nall at Fylde gui­tar and it’s a very spe­cial in­stru­ment. Great for a dif­fer­ent dy­namic at solo shows.

When writ­ing, do you fit words to mu­sic, mu­sic to words, or pull it all to­gether at once?

Ninety-nine per cent of the time it’s words to fit melody. On oc­ca­sion there’s a phrase that I’ll find re­ally res­o­nant that I write around but nor­mally it’s mu­sic, melody then lyrics.

What is your favourite song to per­form live and why?

A tune of mine called Black­bird. It’s tricky as it’s tough to get right and if it goes wrong it sounds aw­ful. Played right, how­ever, and it can be quite ef­fec­tive. The loopy gui­tar and counter vo­cals of­ten send me into a bit of a trance, as if some­one else is play­ing it . . . IF I get it right!!

Any new mu­sic on the hori­zon from your­self or Gomez?

We are plan­ning to get to­gether and write lu­cid para­noia or the slow-burn­ing mys­tery. Here we have a mid­dling spy-thriller that only loosely ac­knowl­edges its roots; I’m sure Lars­son will be turn­ing in his grave.

Con­sis­tent though, are Lis­beth’s (played by the ex­cel­lent Claire Foy) knack for kick­ing some se­ri­ous ass and her pen­chant for a bit of heroic cru­sad­ing and vengeance.

Throw in a moral con­science, some fam­ily in­fight­ing, and a rogue piece of soft­ware on the loose (that al­lows a sin­gle user con­trol of the world’s nukes . . . of course) and you

De­scribe your sound in one sen­tence.

in the New Year so, if all goes well, a new al­bum should fol­low. Been too long.

What does suc­cess as a mu­si­cian mean to you?

Creative free­dom, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, luck.

There’s not enough hours in a day — but what do you like to do most in your spare time?

Hang out with friends and fam­ily.

What mes­sage would you give any young per­son want­ing to be a suc­cess­ful mu­si­cian?

Make sure your songs mean some­thing — it helps when you have to play them again and again.

You can only fit one al­bum by an­other artist on your de­vice — what is it?

Troubador, JJ Cale.

You’re cu­rat­ing a mu­sic fes­ti­val. Who’s on the bill, alive or dead?

Led Zep­pelin, Tom Waits, Nina Si­mone, Sam Cooke, Kraftwerk, Tele­vi­sion, John Grant, Bea­tles, Ra­dio­head, Por­tishead, Grate­ful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Paul Si­mon, Sly & the fam­ily Stone, JJ Cale, AC/DC. I’d let some­body else pro­gramme it. have a bitchy blend of Bond, Bourne and Bat­man. It’s all fairly con­ven­tional stuff; a very sim­ple tale of fast cars (and bikes), pre­pos­ter­ous mo­ti­va­tions, a far-fetched use of tech, and dis­ori­ent­ing ac­tion se­quences all set to the back­drop of a for­get­table sound­track.

Uruguayan di­rec­tor Fede Al­varez (Don’t Breathe) does bring about some visu­ally strik­ing set-pieces that make full use of his hor­ror back­ground, but un­for­tu­nately, the col­lec­tive whole feels too episodic.

What is re­fresh­ing, though, are the tra­di­tional gen­der roles which have been turned on their head.

The chief power parts (on both sides of the ledger) are strong ac­tive women, with men be­ing rel­e­gated to the mar­gins. At one point the film even ac­knowl­edges the pas­siv­ity of jour­nal­ist Mikael Blomkvist (Sver­rir Gud­na­son) as just a pretty face.

Un­for­tu­nately, this ren­ders the ex­cel­lent cast, many of whom have im­pres­sive cre­den­tials, as woe­fully un­der­used.

Try as she might, Claire Foy’s com­mend­able take on Lis­beth’s reck­on­ing, or even Sylvia Hoeks’ (Blade Run­ner) chill­ing ren­di­tion as her sis­ter can’t halt the in­ex­orable pull of the film to­wards Hol­ly­wood’s for­mu­laic jug­ger­naut.

— Toby Wool­las­ton

Cover photo / Getty Im­ages

Ben Ot­tewell says a new Gomez al­bum could hap­pen soon. plays Auck­land’s Tun­ing Fork on Novem­ber 14, sup­ported by Be­ing. Tick­ets from Tick­et­mas­ter.

Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web.

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