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Home > ‘Madame Web’ (2024): A Review

‘Madame Web’ (2024): A Review

Image courtesy of ‘Geek Tyrant’ | ‘Madame Web’ from Sony Pictures and SJ Clarkson | Dakota Johnson as Madame Web, Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon

A Failure Everyone Foresaw

Madame Web is a 2024 superhero film and the directorial debut of S.J. Clarkson. It is the fourth installment in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, joining Venom and Morbius. The film follows paramedic Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) who, after her mother’s passing, finds that she now has the power of foresight. 

Now, she realizes she has to save three teenagers from another clairvoyant Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim) who plans to kill them for the threat he sees them posing to him. Colombia Pictures, TSG Entertainment, and Marvel Entertainment produced the film, which was released on February 12, 2023. 

A Plot Caught in a Web of Contrivances

Madame Web was ridiculed the moment the first trailer dropped, and its story immediately vindicated those concerns. The plot of Madame Web is a haphazardly put-together mess of coincidences, plot holes, and hilariously bad dialogue. Generally, the film is “Final Destination” with Cassandra’s clairvoyance. However, the film fails in lacking the sheer brutality and even cleverness that made its inspiration work. The rules sway back and forth regarding Cassie’s powers, removing depth from the conflict. 

Furthermore, many contrivances drive the plot. These include Ezekiel’s impeccable ability to describe people he saw in his dream, how easily Cassie is able to evade authorities, and how easily she navigates the Amazon searching for her mother’s last location. 

In addition to the film’s contrivances, it’s just underwhelming in general. Ezekiel himself has virtually no interesting schemes with his powers beyond his plan to kill the girls. While audiences are tired of apocalyptic battles featuring blue sky beams, they expect more from a Spider-Man film.

Perhaps the biggest insult in the story is the major involvement of Ben Parker, whose very name gives away the involvement of another. While it’s clear that this film was trying to set something up for a future installment, Sony’s contract proves that these promises will go unfulfilled. This has been a recurring problem with Sony’s Spider-Man Universe; the fact that there is no Spider-Man in the first place.

These characters were not created in a vacuum, they were deliberately written to be antagonists and foils to the web-slinger, as that is the entire purpose of a rogue’s gallery. 

A Rogue’s Gallery, not a Cast

As befitting of the film’s lackluster story is its equally disappointing cast. This is especially egregious when the Spider-Verse duality shows viewers how well an entire cast of Spider-Men could work. A major problem with the cast is the casting in general. Actors such as Johnson and Sweeney are more well-known for their rom-com and teen drama roles. As such, they are out of their element in a serious superhero blockbuster.

One of the biggest problems is the lead herself, Cassandra. In the comics, Madame Web was never meant to be a young main protagonist but a wise old sage occasionally consulted by Peter. Despite her future role, in this film, she ends up being fairly irresponsible. This is shown by her frequently abandoning the trio whenever they venture into dangerous areas. 

It detracts from her supposed status as a wise matron. In terms of chemistry between our three other protagonists, there is little. All three of them understandably act like a band of rowdy, bickering teenagers instead of their more defined and comic counterparts. 

Perhaps the one interesting idea the film gives is with Ezekiel Sims, who serves as an evil version of the web-slinger himself. As with Superman’s evil copies in The Boys and Invincible, an evil Spider-Man is an interesting idea. However, his character is held down by his shallow motivations, as it is never made clear exactly why he thinks it is right to try and get involved with these heroes in the first place.

Image courtesy of ‘Seventeen Magazine’ | ‘Madame Web’ from Sony Pictures and SJ Clarkson | Dakota Johnson as Madame Web, Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon, Celeste O'Connor as Mattie Franklin

An Eye for the Future but not Visuals

Once again, the film disappoints in terms of its visuals and editing. Most of the time the effects are below average for the usual blockbuster of this type, as evidenced by the film’s budget being half of the average. Instead of making the film grounded, it once again adds to the cheap feeling of the film.

The costumes, even with their limited presence, leave much to be desired. Their plastic, ramshackle design leaves them looking more like bad cosplay than professional supe costumes.

The editing in the film was not great, to say the least. Many scenes were put together in a way that left out key parts of the sequence and took watchers out of the scene. One of the worst effects used in the film is the ADR used on Ezekiel.

For a huge portion of his scenes, Ezekiel’s lines were dubbed over, creating a distracting and disorienting effect. If there was one good effect, it was Cassandra looking into the “web” of alternate timelines using her powers, though this pales in comparison to what was shown in the Spider-Verse films.

One of the more notable aspects of the film is that it is yet another throwback to the 2000s. As with Turning Red and Saltburn, audiences now find that decade to be nostalgic. For any viewers who like 2000s culture, this will at least appeal to a few. By the time this film came out, the novelty had sadly worn off and it had become the next common trend.

It Ain’t Always About The Money 

Overall, despite the film’s theme of changing fate, it did little to avert the rock-bottom expectations given to it. Not only did it bomb at the box office but it was panned across the board and even its cast poked fun at it. 

With a meandering story, a cast of fools, and lackluster effects, the Sony Spider-Man Universe has at least managed to give audiences the next Morbius. As Beyond the Spider-Verse waits in hiatus, the Spider-Man franchise hangs by a thin thread. 

Madame Web is available to purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. 

Image courtesy of ‘Celebmix’ | ‘Madame Web’ from Sony Pictures and SJ Clarkson | Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon, Celeste O'Connor as Mattie Franklin

‘Madame Web’ Sony Pictures Entertainment Trailer 

Source: Dead Talk Live

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