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Madame Web review: A fun caper shackled by plot holes, unnecessary exposition, and corny dialogues

Sony’s latest Spider-Man spin-off is not as ridiculous as Morbius, but Madame Web has the bones of what could’ve been an intriguing film

Madame Web review: A fun caper shackled by plot holes, unnecessary exposition, and corny dialogues

Last Updated: 05.56 PM, Feb 16, 2024


Story: Cassie Webb, a paramedic in New York, discovers that she can see the future after encountering a near-death experience. She inexplicably becomes the protector of three young women who are being hunted down by a mysterious man with ‘spider-like’ abilities.

Review: Sony Pictures has been attempting to leverage the popularity of Spider-Man by announcing several spin-offs. While the Venom films starring Tom Hardy have proved to be successful, Morbius, starring Jared Leto, was met with poor reviews and a subpar box-office collection. MadameWeb is by no means a convoluted mess like Leto’s Morbius, which has become widely regarded as one of the worst superhero films of all time. The new Dakota Johnson-led Madame Web does feature elements that could’ve propelled it to become a compelling watch, but it, unfortunately, lacks a half-decent script to carry it to the finish line.


The film is an origin story for the popular Spider-Man character, Madame Web, but the filmmakers have taken several liberties from actual comic book origins. One could argue that for a film adaptation and relatively modern setting, these liberties do work in the story’s favour, but they become insignificant when compared to crater-sized plot holes that are rife throughout the film. Sydney Sweeney (Julia Cornwall), Celeste O'Connor (Mattie Franklin) and Isabela Merced (Anya Carazon) play the roles of the three teenage girls being hunted down by a dangerous adversary. Fortunately, the young actresses have great chemistry and slip into their roles with ease. If not for the ridiculous and prolonged expositions in almost every scene, their characters could’ve been fleshed out with more compelling arcs. Ironically, for all of its unnecessary expositions, the film does not hint at how these women would take on the mantle of Spider-Woman in the future.


The film’s major flaw lies in the motivations of the villain, Ezekiel Sims. In the comics, Sims is an ally to Spider-Man rather than an adversary. This tweak in the character does fit the film, but Tahar Rahim, despite being a renowned actor, delivers a bland and generic villain as Sims. His dialogues and his delivery are akin to an AI-generated villain, and it takes away the immersive elements of the story. To compound matters, Sims’ recklessness in his attempts to kill the three girls is unintentionally hilarious. The manner in which he gains the resources to tap into the NSA’s surveillance technology is downright ridiculous, and it is amateurish storytelling.


Despite its many flaws, the film does have a few bright moments. Cassie Webb's bonding with the young women and her journey of harnessing her clairvoyant abilities makes for an intriguing watch. It is also evident that the film did have potential before it was torn down by ridiculous creative choices and the most amateurish dialogues. Director S. J. Clarkson and the writers could have benefited from putting more faith in the audience to figure out certain aspects of the story on their own. While Dakota Johnson does exceed expectations in her attempts to carry the film on her shoulders, it ultimately proves to be futile. Adam Scott and Emma Roberts would have also benefited from more screen time as Ben Parker and Mary Parker. For the unversed, Ben is Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s uncle and Mary is Peter’s mother. The Madame Web writers have also somehow managed to butcher the iconic Spider-Man line delivered by Uncle Uncle, “With great power comes great responsibility.”


Verdict: Madame Web has the bones of what could’ve been an intriguing superhero thriller, but the film is shackled by ridiculous plot holes, prolonged expositions, and corny dialogues. The Dakota Johnson-led film does tease a sequel towards the end of the film, but Sony Pictures could likely reconsider their entire slate of Spider-Man films considering the receptions of Morbius and Madame Web.



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