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Madame Web

The fourth entry in what has to be simultaneously the most baffling, unintentionally hilarious and persistent cinematic universe in our timeline. The SSU (Sony’s Spider-Man Universe…which doesn’t feature Spider-Man), has never been a critical darling, but after Venom was a monster hit, Sony quickly fired up a sequel (Let There Be Carnage), the memed to death Morbius, Madame Web and the upcoming Kraven the Hunter.


Madame Web sees Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson), a New York metropolis paramedic who begins to demonstrate signs of clairvoyance. Forced to challenge revelations about her past life, she needs to safeguard three young women (Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced & Celeste O’Connor) from a deadly adversary (Tahar Rahim) who wants them destroyed.


I’m a sucker for the early-00’s, both aesthetically and stylistically (prime example being Daredevil, where the film is undoubtedly littered with problems… but whenever Bullseye is on screen and the Nu-Metal soundtrack is kicking off, I’m in heaven). Unfortunately, despite being set in 2003, Madame Web doesn’t ever feel like it is from that era, instead the purpose for this time setting clearly to (sort of) establish that this is maybe, probably the same universe as Tom Holland’s Peter Parker due to the age of Ben Parker and Mary Parker in the film. Also, it’s abundantly clear that the original plan of the film was to have the villain prevent the birth of Peter, with Madame Web having to work to stop him.

Madame Web

This story has been completely hacked to bits and reworked and cut to death, with an utterly nonsensical, overstretched narrative that essentially boils down to an utterly generic and undercooked origin story, a girl power team up that lacks any triumph or camaraderie and a time bending, premonition driven thriller with a splash of Final Destination. It takes all of these elements and concocts a tangled web of boredom, with dialogue that honestly has to be heard to be believed.

What’s so frustrating is the premonition gimmick has genuine potential and there is one scene on a train just before our lead team meet for the first time that is a decent display of this. It’s just a shame that the other 95% of the film is a nausea-inducing headache of jarring cuts, off-kilter camera angles, blurred and out of focus footage and ghastly green screen implementation. I’m not joking when I say that the final act set piece is genuinely one of the most incoherent calamities that my eyes have ever witnessed. Also, what on earth was going on with the ADR for the antagonist? 50% of his dialogue is completely out of sync with his mouth.

Madame Web

Dakota Johnson’s seemingly genuine distaste for this project has provided a lot of entertaining and awkward press tour clips. Whilst she does seem genuinely invested at times, her line delivery and general “vibe” gives off a lack of engagement, then again who can blame her with dialogue such as - “Hope the spiders were worth it mom”. The other three Spider-Women the trailers have been pushing? Well they, and our titular heroine, are only in costume for about a minute and have so very little chemistry (despite the film doing the incredibly irritating trope of having them talk as if they’ve known each other their whole lives) and brief expository backstory. The worst offender has to be Tahar Rahim’s Ezekiel

Sims, who has got to be in the upper echelon of terrible comic book villains. What are his motivations? Why does he have a random hacker sidekick? Why does his suit have to look like Spider-Man when he doesn’t even exist yet? So many questions… no answers!

Taking its place alongside Elektra and Catwoman as one of the worst comic book films I have seen, Madame Web is a complete misfire of clashing plots, dysfunctional pacing, awful action beats, lacklustre fan-service and dedication to the source material. A few of the bizarro lines are worthy of the ‘so-bad-it’s-almost-good’ mantle and there is potential in Madame Web’s powers, but these do not excuse the avalanche of negatives that weigh this down. Bring on, Kraven and Venom 3 later this year!


Rating When Evil Lurks



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