After Top Gun’s huge opening around the world, director Joseph Kosinski returns with Spiderhead. The sci fi / thriller stars Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller and was released by Netflix yesterday. Alongside all of the film nerds out there, I was very excited for this, for one key reason – Joseph Kosinski and Miles Teller teaming up again. Unfortunately, Spiderhead is not even on the same playing field as Top Gun. Let me explain.
Pick a Genre
Spiderhead has a couple core problems that I believe if they were fixed, would make this movie very very good. The first one being the weird tone that is trying to be balanced. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are amazing comedic writers (Deadpool, Zombieland). In this film, they seem intent on inserting jokes as much as possible. Moments of high drama and tension are ruined by weird lines that don’t fit and poor music choices. I truly believe that if Spiderhead kept a simple dramatic / thriller tone it would completely change this film. Lately, every Hollywood movie has this need to be “funny” and “witty” where it doesn’t even work. Creating genre pieces is good and should be done more.
Chris Hemsworth is good in this. He is solid but not amazing and it is absolutely not his fault. He is playing a standard charismatic / manipulative antagonist. The problem is that I was never afraid of his character. He never felt like a villain and there is so much room for him to be a terrifying two-faced force of evil. Instead, they give us Chris Hemsworth just playing Thor for 2 hours. YAY…. Once again, the writers seem intent on making him funny and charming. Just imagine if in the first 30 minutes he was all fun and games and then slowly we see cracks of this evil and crazy man.
As with Top Gun Maverick, Spiderhead is extremely predictable. With Top Gun it doesn’t matter because the action carries it but with Spiderhead, it has nothing keeping me glued to the screen. There is some twists in this film and while I didn’t necessarily guess all of them, I didn’t care. They happen but don’t really affect the outcome of the movie. More weirder and creepier shit needs to be going on in this film. There is nothing in Spiderhead that is keeping me guessing or intrigued.
Even the shooting and colour grading of this film is generic. It has this boring look where I feel there is so much creative space to explore. The whole complex was even mundane. Kosinski constantly just cuts to these overhead shots of the facility with some pop music on top that gets very tiring very quickly. Maybe it was the studio, but I don’t understand why a simple script like this one does not have a bold and engaging style to it. Missed opportunity.
FRAZIER’S PITCH (Spoilers)
Now its time for a new segment called Frazier’s pitch. I will explain how I wish this film was done. I don’t want to sound like arsehole because I know nothing about filmmaking. This is just what I wish I saw.
First things first, Spiderhead should’ve been a strict sci fi / thriller. As a result, we could have focused more on the program and characters and less on shitty jokes. The whole Spiderhead program should have also had more suspicious activity going on so that the audience is always guessing. Essentially, more creepier clues that Jeff and Rachel slowly uncover. For example, belongings from previous patients, body parts etc etc. The reveals about Jeff and Rachel’s past should have been done earlier on as well because it had this big build up and was very underwhelming. In addition, the whole B6 drug and program needs more of a backstory. But what is most important is the tone and style. If Spiderhead had a unique look and feel to it I guarantee you critics would be raving about it. Instead of feeling like Michael Bay’s the Island, it could have been like Ex Machina. Yes exactly, a big difference.
Should you watch Spiderhead?
I very rarely say this because I enjoy most movies, but you can probably miss this one. It is so bland and formulaic that I don’t think a modern audience will leave being grateful they watched it.