Film review: Madame Web

After a highly traumatic near-death experience, New York City paramedic Cassandra Webb begins to show signs of clairvoyance and in turn, must protect three young strangers from a potentially powerful foe who wants them all dead.

From Columbia pictures comes the forth in the supposed Spidey Sony Marvel Cinematic Universe, helmed by first time big screen director S. J. Clarkson. Set in 1973 in the jungles of Peru, and then skipping to 2003 Queens, New York, the film was initially designed to surreptitiously introduce us to the world of Spider-Man’s mother Mary Parker (and her brother-in-law Ben Parker) and the origins of the powers given to her by the highly poisonous, yet medically powerful Peruvian red spider.

With the current superhero movie trend quite rightly showcasing strong female protagonists, we have four this time… with Dakota Johnson as Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Webb heading the group of apparent orphans as our all-seeing hero. Co-starring Sydney Sweeney (Anyone But You) as Spider-Girl Julia Cornwall, Isabela Merced as Spider-Girl Anya Corazon, and lastly Mattie Franklin as another Spider-Girl played by Celeste O’Connor.

Although the Madame Webb character has been ‘sexed up’ and made 30 years younger, the movie in turn bizarrely ignores Spider- Man’s existence completely who’s age in 2003 would have been 19. Originally, the film was to be set in the early 1990’s, which would have made far more sense. And with Spider-Man’s future uncle Ben Parker played by forty-something Adam Scott the timeline once again is frustratingly off by another 10 years. However with both Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield and now Tom Holland’s takes on the character all existing in previous Sony Spider-Man outings, this isn’t the first time the timeline has been messed with/rebooted.

With all superheroes comes the need for supervillains and in this case we have the frustratingly one-dimensional high-flying businessman Ezekiel Sims played by Tahar Rahim (BBC’s The Serpent). The deadly spider-stealing murderer of Cassandra’s mother Constance Webb, played by Kerry Bishé of the series Halt and Catch Fire.


Okay, let’s sadly do this one last time. Sony have almost broken the cinematic universe that initially gave us great Spider-films such as “No Way Home” and the breathtaking “Into the Spider-Verse”, but have now wandered off the well-trodden path and fallen flat on their faces. This film has far too much early info dumping, leaving us feeling robbed of the end point where the heroes are meant to be fully realised. Additional runtime to flesh out the characters would have been welcomed here and in turn allowed us to want that second ‘Cassie Webb’ adventure, which I fear will never come about now.

As with my previous review, the trailer is wholly misleading showcasing the Spider-Women characters that never really come to fruition to any great degree. The mid-point action scenes never really hit those emotional highs expected from a film with a healthy $80m budget, which by the way is struggling to break even. With a badly written script that doesn’t realise the characters to their fullest be they hero or villain, the whole affair is left hugely lacking and has now even become a source of mockery on social media. Well, there’s no such thing as bad publicity… I guess?

“When you take on the responsibility, great power will come”, says Cassie at one point… butchering a far more iconic quote. The disappointment here is that production values are mostly good if not great and well placed when Cassie is thrust into her mind’s eye where the future is revealed bit by bit. In the closing scenes, the action finally gets to where we expected it to be 30 minutes prior within the final act. A second film is teased at the end, which will most likely never see, our heroes briefly arrived fully formed only for their powers to be cut short.

With Columbia Pictures celebrating their 100th anniversary, Charlize Theron and Amy Adams – who were originally meant to star – have fortunately escaped this mess. The Sony Marvel universe will continue on regardless and hopefully learn that prequels need to arrive at a recognisable end point to make sense and need us wanting more.

Madame Webb 2: Future Visions, could be amazing if they just changed the writers, the editors and the director. Here’s hoping.






Author: Piers, Maidstone Store

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