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Madame Web review – Sony is showing these characters a lack of respect

S.J. Clarkson directs Madame Web. The film stars Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, Isabela Merced, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, and Adam Scott.

Sony keeps pushing on with their Spider-Man Universe without the key ingredient, Spider-Man. We’ve had origin films for some of the superhero’s most famous villains, to varying degrees of quality, yet they’ve all been missing the Spider-Man to pit themselves against. Even more bizarrely, they’ve taken these villains and just turned them into heroes instead. It worked for Venom in a way, but not at all with Morbius. Now we have Madame Web, a film that might not feature Spider-Man himself but includes some form of spider-people.

Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) is a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women (Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor and Isabela Merced) from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.

Madame Web gets off to a decent start. Spiders are being researched in the Amazon or something along those lines. It isn’t long, though, until the film spirals out of control and feels like two to three different films fighting against each other to stand out. This makes for an incoherent mess, where the writers of such disasters as Gods of Egypt and Morbius back up that work with yet another dire effort. Honestly, leaning into the era of the early 2000s is fine, but at least make an effort to make it a better film than some of the superhero films from that moment in time.

The distinct lack of effort Sony puts into making these films engaging enough should be the most worrying sign. Willing to throw away millions on a product like this just for the sake of memes is a bizarre way to run a studio, and the chaos was very much felt throughout this entire production. It’s actually laughable by the end, cackling to myself in the final ten minutes, sitting in disbelief at what was happening. Which, might I say, felt like the four actresses reuniting on an SNL skit to take the piss out of the film.

There’s no weight to any of the films either, with action sequences (if they can be called that) passing by without any feeling of significance to the plot. It’s odd as this story has the potential to be something major for the Spider-Verse, but this is an utter failure to launch.

To some extent, the performances are almost a saving grace for the film, and even then, they’re not all that. Dakota Johnson spends half the film looking bored beyond belief and the other half as if she’s having a blast playing the role. It’s so jarring, and it gives no consistency to the character. The trio of Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor try to find some chemistry together with Johnson; however, there’s only so much that can be done with the material they’re given. You’ve seen the most interesting aspects of their characters in all of the trailers, and, believe me, there isn’t a lot more going on for them in the film.

Then there’s Tahar Rahim, the villain of the piece. A talented actor dealt such a shorthand here with such a weakly written and underdeveloped villain with an utterly terrible case of ADR on show. Something like this makes you feel no one actually vetted the final film to look out for these kinds of things.

“With great power comes great responsibility” are words that Sony should take heed of moving forward with the Sony Spider-Man Universe if it even continues. Honestly, these characters deserve so much more respect than the studio is giving them.

Madame Web review – Sony is showing these characters a lack of respect

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