"Madame Web" Film Review

Madame Web (2024) - IMDb

"Madame Web" Film Review

Rating: 1.5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    "Madame Web" could have been a very good movie. It had an interesting comic book character, a great cast it could utilize, and it has a compelling story that places Madame Web and her Spider trio into the SonyVerse. Unfortunately, this movie suffers the same fate as "Morbius" rather than the Spider-Verse films, delivering a less-than-mediocre film that has a poorly written story, awkward and uninspired acting performances, and terrible character development. It all accumulates to show a film that unfortunately confirms that Sony only cares about the money on these films, and not about trying to develop a great superhero movie in the Spider-Man universe.

    The film is centered around Cassie Web (Dakota Johnson), who was a foster kid that grew up to be an EMT in New York. She thinks she is living a normal life, until an accident leaves her dead in the water (literally), having to be revived by her partner, Ben Parker (Adam Scott, and yes, it's THAT Ben Parker). After the accident and her revival, she starts to see visions, but these visions show her what will happen in the next few minutes at the setting she is at. 

    So, when she boards a subway train and sees a spider-suit superhuman (Tahar Rahim) attacking and killing a trio of teenage girls (Sydney Sweeney, Isabella Merced, Celeste O'Conner), she decides to put a stop to it, saving the three teens and getting them out of harm's way for that moment of time. However, the attacker, who is named Ezekiel, isn't stopping his hunt, and will hunt down the three girls until they are dead. It is up to Cassie to save the teenagers and put a stop to Ezekiel. 

    I think this film could have, and would have, been very good if Sony kept their script they started with. Johnson said in an interview that there were "drastic" changes to the script after she signed onto the movie, and she can't even tell the audience what they were. There are certain moments throughout this film that felt like it could have been from the original script and actually showed the filmmakers caring about this project as a film, but it is ruined by the rest of what they delivered. 

    For starters, the story is simply just not there. It's pretty bad when Sony has to release a set-up movie to keep their contract with Marvel, and it is obvious they don't care about the projects they are crafting. Remember how bad "Morbius" was? Sony has one goal, and that is to make money and keep their contract in good standing with the famous comic book manufacturer. Because of that, they know they can release whatever they want and they will be fine. So, I'm not entirely sure why such drastic changes were made, but they were definitely the wrong choices all around.

    Cassie doesn't really get much of a story or real character growth here, Sure, her mom was killed while researching spiders and pregnant with this story's hero, but that's all we really know. We never find out about her upbringing, or really her life before she met the teenage girls. In fact, the movie wants the viewer to think that these girls really saved her life and made it much better than it was. It doesn't work here at all, and they really cheapen this titular character. At the same time, the only backstory or real motive the antagonist gives here is that he was broke as a kid and no one helped him, therefore he is going to kill whoever and do whatever it takes to be a multi-millionaire. The story is just very... dumb. It's lazy storytelling, and at times, it easily feels like it was written by AI.

    For our three teenager heroes, they never gain superpowers in this movie, and we only see them in their super suits for maybe three minutes in this entire almost 2-hour film. Even then, they are all visions and don't show any real action or aspects you would find in a superhero flick. While there are some great moments with these characters, such as the diner and the hotel room scene, they are sorta whiny and annoying after a while. This film seems like it isn't concerned with making the viewer like any of these characters. 

    Therefore, I would blame the story on the wooden and uninspired acting performances. There are scenes throughout most of this movie that feel very fake, awkward, and simply just don't work. It is obvious Johnson doesn't want to be there, and that she is disappointed with how the film turned out due to the changes. There are some scenes that actually feel real and that the actors are giving their all, but they are few and far between here. I don't know if the actors just couldn't save the movie from the cringey dialogue or odd plot points, but it simply doesn't work here for the most part. 

    Like I mentioned, there are some scenes that are decent for the most part and show real compatibility and chemistry between the actors. My favorite scene of the movie is when the girls go to a diner, before Cassie comes and saves them. They are dancing on the tabletops, and simply just having a good time. Then, when Cassie comes and saves them, this whole segment is really good, and then they ruin it minutes later with bad writing and subpar performances. It's really unfortunate. 

    This movie is bad and simply doesn't work. Yet, at the same time, I did enjoy myself for the most part. The first hour was boring, slow, and annoying at times, but after the hour mark, I sort of just embraced this movie and let it work its magic the best it could. While it still didn't win me over, I didn't have a very horrible time with it. I would say I hope Sony learns from this, but "Madame Web" came out after "Morbius" and we saw how that film went. Sony just needs to stop, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has lost faith with their live-action Spider-Universe.