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Madame Web

Updated: Apr 9

The latest Spider-Man spin-off is unwatchable



Super-hero fatigue is really starting to settle in. After the culmination of Avengers: Endgame (2019) there have been only a few bright spots financially and critically for the genre. 2023 was a devastating year, marking the end of the DCEU with flops The Flash (2023), Blue Beetle (2023), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), while Marvel saw equally painful misses in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023). Sony Pictures, meanwhile, is seeing is Spider-man spinoff universe slowly collapse onto itself after the horrendous Morbius (2022) and the just released Madame Web (2024).

 

Madame Web follows the clairvoyant paramedic Cassie (Dakota Johnson) in 2003 as she is roped into saving three teenage girls (Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor) after she sees them get murdered in a vision by the spider-powered baddie Ezekiel (Tahar Rahim).

 

Madame Web is directed by SJ Clarkson who has shown to be an adept TV director on such shows as Orange is the New Black (2013-2019), Jessica Jones (2015-2019), and Succession (2018-2023). Her jump to feature film director could not have come with a worst project. Madame Web is an unequivocal dud, hampered by non-existent direction, but most importantly one of the worst scripts this genre has seen in decades.

 

The story is partly penned by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, two of the writers who also worked on the likes of Morbius and Gods of Egypt (2016), films infamous for the amount of money and critical hate they received. Why Sony would entrust Marvel property again in the hands of these writers is anyone’s guess. The result is that Madame Web has some of the clunkiest, cringiest, and laziest plot and dialogue I have seen in a theatrical film in a long time. One would go insane trying to simply ignore glaring plot holes or jumps in logic, let alone be invested in anything that happens on screen. Characters are flat, motivations are non-existent, and any sense of fun, action, or stakes is completely absent.

 

Madame Web is not able to be salvaged by its direction or cast either. The actors can barely perform the laughable dialogue with a straight face, let alone elevate it into something watchable. Johnson tries her best to insert some humor with clear ad-libs in her scenes, but they are lost beneath the mess that is the rest of the film. The young actresses playing the in-danger teenagers have shown to have great potential in other projects, but come off as obnoxious and have zero chemistry together in Madame Web. The worst part of the film, however, is Rahim as the villain; his delivery and performance is out of a parody instead of an eight-figure blockbuster film. Rahim has shown to be a talented actor in other projects such as The The Looming Tower (2018) and  Mauritanian (2021), yet he is completely abandoned by his director and editing here, coming across as embarrassing. Not even some horrendously obvious ADR voice work spins much more of Rahim’s performance. A director is usually responsible in corralling her actors into a coherent tone and helping the edit compliment their better takes, but I don’t know how much creative control Clarkson had in the infamously corporate-controlling Sony Marvel films.

 

In the end, the lack of a digestible script cripples Madame Web critically. The lack of a coherent direction and a poorly put-together cast leads to there being nothing salvageable whatsoever within this latest Sony superhero film. If only the film were so bad it was a fun watch, but Madame Web is sadly just an insulting waste of time for anyone who comes across it.

1.2/10

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About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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