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Opening in Orlando: The Girl in the Spider's Web, The Grinch and more

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THIS WEEK:

The Girl in the Spider's Web In the immortal words of Drunk Uncle, "Girl with a dragon tattoo? Not in my house!" That was the general reaction to the 2011 English-language film version of Dragon, which couldn't help but feel superfluous after three European-made adaptations of Stieg Larsson's written oeuvre. For some reason, Hollywood is trying again – but with an entirely new cast and creative team. Not only that, but they're skipping ahead to the fourth novel in the series, which was written by another author many years after Larsson had, rather inconveniently, stopped breathing. (Imagine if, in 2005, the Broccolis had announced they were rebooting James Bond, but were starting with Colonel Sun.) All in all, it's a big gamble to take on material the public may no longer care about. Then again, in 2011, we were saying that about Obama running for a second term. You live, you learn. (R)

The Grinch Thank God those live-action Dr. Seuss movies seem to have gone the way of the dodo. Because in the space of just three years, they gave us a Cat in the Hat who couldn't rhyme and a Whoville filled with little materialists. Okay, I'm going on reports when it comes to the latter, because I boycotted the 2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas for reasons that should have been immediately apparent to anyone who grew up on the book and animated TV special. I'm holding out hope, though, for this latest animated attempt, which looks like it might hew a bit closer to the source material than that Jim Carrey farrago. (Excuse me, assumed farrago. Still haven't bothered with it!) Illumination Entertainment may not have exactly set the world on fire with their previous take on The Lorax, but visually at least, what we've seen so far of their Grinch looks pretty darn cute. (After The Secret Life of Pets, we can safely say these guys just have a way with dogs named Max.) Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch is still in that "can do no wrong" stage of his career. Gotta quibble with the choice of narrator, though: Pharrell Williams does not a Boris Karloff make. Okay, neither does anybody currently living, but you know what I mean. (PG)

Overlord Boy, I do not envy J.J. Abrams for having thought this would be the right time to resurrect the genre of Nazi pulp horror. Somehow, the likes of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS just don't seem so quaint and amusing when real life, latter-day stormtroopers are mowing down Jewish nonagenarians in their tracks. Yet this weekend will nonetheless see the release of Overlord, in which Abrams' Bad Robot Productions attempts to make popcorn entertainment out of the idea that Hitler's minions were creating zombies to do their bidding in the final days of the Big One. I mean, I'm not saying they wouldn't have tried, just that mining that conceit for grindhouse thrills seems about as timely right now as ... um, a girl with a dragon tattoo? (Also, the dragon is wearing an armband.) (R)

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