Madame Web: Stay At Home

Charlie von Peterffy ‘24 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Madame Web is by far the worst installment in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU). Void of any soul, heart, creativity, or even proper technique, it is miraculous that this movie came to fruition. Attempting to recreate the charm of mid-2000s superhero flicks, Madame Web presents a cardboard cut-out of the superhero formula with one-dimensional, one-liner-filled characters to fill the space. It captures everything wrong with those early experiments and worse—providing a strong example of superhero fatigue and the increasingly visible need for Sony to stop what they’re doing. The actors, writers, and visionaries behind this failing universe display zero interest or motivation in their roles and narratives, respectively.

The story is thin and corny. Following EMT Cassandra Web (Dakota Johnson) as she slowly discovers her power to glimpse into the future and project herself both through time and space, it tries to structurally weave a web between the flow of the film and the connections between Web herself, the evil Spider-Man Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), a pre-Peter Parker birth Ben Parker (Adam Scott) and the rest. Despite Madame Web’s anti-hero status, it also attempts to imitate early-2000s superhero flicks through a safely optimistic formula. However in doing so, viewers are fed cheap explanations, laughably bad action sequences and writing (starting right off with hilarious crash zooms in the initial conflict that kills Web’s mother mixed with over-dramatic actors and a sloppy conversation), and unconvincing themes of familial trauma. While the core ideas come through, they do so in the most painstakingly obvious fashion, with characters telling the audience what to feel and expect. It moves dreadfully slowly in this near-laughably silly fashion for under two hours, keeping everything in constant shuffle without much intrigue or excitement.

The characters and actors are also equally canned. While none of Madame Web’s four heroines are exactly enticing––Johnson acts consistently embarrassed throughout, and the other three appear disinterested except during their very random trauma dumps that go nowhere––Rahim is by and large the worst of all, with Sims equally horrific as a character. Not only is Rahim incredibly hammy and over-the-top, but his lines are poorly synced and always only refer to his villainy. Half the time he appears on screen (unless under his mask), it is to say how he will get the Spider-Women before they can kill him, his lips disruptively quivering out of sync well after he finishes speaking. While the other four are bad, Sims isn’t just poorly written or performed but unfinished in this final product. Ben Parker and his family also serve no purpose other than to create a weak connection between Web and the future Spider-Man (though which one, whether seen or unseen, is anyone’s guess), which further reinforces the film’s underbaked feel.

The visuals are also quite shoddy. There’s good reason hardly any action is shown: webs look shiny, unshaded, and cartoonish; fire looks distorted and unaffected by surrounding environments; choreography is choppy, as each slight movement results in a new camera placement at a very rapid pace. Even Web’s supposed visions of the future are outlined in a cliché, silverish hue that sloppily hums viewers between potential realities. It feels as if pre-2000s visuals and tech were also used, though not to the nostalgic effect hoped for.

In all, Madame Web provides little more than another strong example of why Sony needs to stop this cinematic universe. Just about nothing other than some good jokes here and there land successfully. Sony, please, just stop. Give these properties back to Marvel and focus on games.

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