Take this Spiderhead 2022 Quiz to find out which character you are. We update the quiz regularly and it’s the most accurate among the other quizzes.
More science-fiction films like Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” are needed. Not that they should be about the same thing, but there’s something appealing about watching a small cast experiment with human experience variables in a strange futuristic setting. “Spiderhead,” Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to last month’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” agrees with me, because it even has its mad scientist—played by a winking Chris Hemsworth—grooving to pop music. But “Spiderhead’s” individual significance is a larger issue, and it’s ultimately not nearly as clever or eye-opening as it aspires to be.
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“Spiderhead” imagines a different kind of prison system, one with an open-door policy that allows the incarcerated to have a sense of self, to cook for themselves, and to exercise whenever they want. What they give up as punishment is their brain chemistry for science, which is tinkered with by Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) under the orders of a protocol committee hoping to solve the world’s problems through dosages. The prisoner has the choice to take an experimental dosage, which is approved by saying “Acknowledge,” and can be confronted with the self-loathing of “Darkenfloxx” or the overwhelming desire to laugh from “Laffodil.” If Abnesti needs them to express themselves, he increases the dosage of “Verbaluce” (via a smartphone app). These are strange names (from George Saunders’ short story Escape from Spiderhead, a first-person account that thrives on casually using these words), and it’s certainly strange to see Hemsworth play this guy. Also, you must try to play this Spiderhead 2022 Quiz.
Spiderhead 2022 Quiz
One positive side effect of “Spiderhead” is that the performances have their own potency, but only when given a specific dosage. Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, who play Jeff and Lizzie, respectively, give assured performances as the main prisoners. Because both are in prison for horrific acts of manslaughter, the prison has given them a chance at self-forgiveness. It’s amusing, but also revealing, how the movie’s dosage scenes, these simulations they bring to life by screaming, writhing on the couch, and occasionally feigning suicide, leave you cold. The literal act of Abnesti twisting them in different directions becomes almost a conceit of a film that is forcing its power, its hazy reason for being.
“Spiderhead,” based on Saunders’ short story but given a distinct stench by self-assured “Deadpool” screenwriters Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, strives for a disquieting quirkiness. Abnesti isn’t your typical evil genius, Spiderhead isn’t your typical penitentiary, and this isn’t your typical talky sci-fi thriller. Even the opening and closing credits are scrawled with pink chicken scratch, and they are accompanied by a jaunty Supertramp song that kicks off a soundtrack that alternates between George Benson, Chuck Mangione, and Hall & Oates. But whatever “Spiderhead” is laughing about or trying to hide inside its drama isn’t shining brightly enough. It’s initially interesting to see Hemsworth play someone as disarming as he is manipulative, but he becomes a heavy-handed expression of the film’s limited statements about science, power, and control. He makes a stronger case for recasting, as someone who doesn’t simply return the “hot scientist wearing glasses” trope.
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A lot of “Spiderhead” relies on the premise’s curiosity, which is teased by watching Hemsworth push Teller through various procedures, forming a friendship that this film treats as low stakes. It’s almost enough to make you forget that so little happens in the first 40 minutes that the experiments, which become increasingly manipulative, barely have a cumulative unsettling effect. It is clear how far a short story must have been stretched.
The concept of prison is as concrete as the structure that houses its titular penitentiary, but “Spiderhead” seems to say more with its premise than its execution. It’s motivated by a desire to show how the American prison system could be more humane, but the plot’s larger revelations about what’s really going on are as anti-surprise as you can get. The manipulation is worse than Jeff realizes, and the plotting accentuates the film’s hollow nature with its convenient thrills (including a scene involving dropped keys to a secret drawer, and a shoulder-shrug of a grand finale). Even prison ethics are rendered ineffective. It doesn’t want to upset anyone about the prison system, just as “Top Gun: Maverick” avoids discussing what really powers those jets.
Though it begins with promise, “Spiderhead” is pseudo-heady sci-fi nonsense that treats its most intriguing elements as an afterthought, and thus misses the opportunity to be a memorable oddity aside from its disappointments.
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