Madame Web

Madame Web
Original title:Madame Web
Director:S. J. Clarkson
Running time:116 minutes
Release date:14 february 2024
Cassandra Web is a Manhattan ambulance driver who is said to be able to see into the future. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forms a relationship with three young women destined for extraordinary futures... if they can survive their deadly present.

Mulder's Review

In the current context of superhero fatigue, Madame Web attempts to return to the limelight, bringing with it a mix of unintentional humor and sincere fun. Directed by S.J. Clarkson, the film explores the world of Madame Web, played by Dakota Johnson, in a story that blends the absurdity of comic book origins with the difficulty of balancing sentimentality and absurdity in contemporary superhero cinema.

The film is set in 2003, a peculiar choice of setting marked by an eclectic soundtrack and forced pop-culture references that attempt to create a nostalgic atmosphere. However, these temporal elements seem arbitrary and don't contribute significantly to the overall narrative. The lack of commitment to the chosen time period adds to the film's sense of disarray, leaving the audience to question the relevance of the 2003 backdrop.

Dakota Johnson plays Cassie Webb, an FDNY paramedic in Queens, who discovers her precognitive abilities following a venomous spider bite suffered in the womb. Despite a few moments of dry humor that enhance the film, Dakota Johnson's performance seems somewhat unsuited to the role. Most of the time, she manages to inject charisma into even the clumsiest lines, but this isn't enough to compensate for the film's overall lack of coherence and direction.

The supporting cast, notably Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O'Connor and Isabela Merced as the trio of aspiring Spider-Women, are under-exploited. The characters they play are given little space to develop, resulting in a lack of emotional connection with the audience. Despite the film's attempt to establish a broader Spidey-verse with potential spin-offs for these characters, their arcs fall flat, leaving viewers lacking depth and substance.

Tahar Rahim, who plays the film's antagonist Ezekiel Sims, struggles with both character development and performance. The attempt to establish Ezekiel Sims as a menacing force is hampered by Tahar Rahim's somewhat caricatured portrayal and a poorly executed ADR. The character lacks the depth and nuance necessary to make him a convincing adversary, which contributes to the villain's lackluster presence in the film.

Madame Web also struggles to find its tone, oscillating between unintentional comedy and tense seriousness. The conflict between CGI-rich sequences and more down-to-earth moments creates an uneven visual experience, preventing audiences from fully immersing themselves in the story. The film's final act, in particular, sinks into chaotic CGI that doesn't fit with previous attempts at a more down-to-earth aesthetic.

The script, attributed to several writers, features clunky dialogue and predictable plots. Characters are weighed down by explanation-heavy lines, which doesn't make it easy for the talented actors to breathe life into their roles. The film's attempts at humor are often forced, and only Dakota Johnson manages to salvage a few moments thanks to her unique ability to inject charisma into even the clumsiest lines.

Despite its ambition to expand the Spider-Man universe, Madame Web falls short. The film's lack of clear vision, combined with its mix of elements from different eras and genres, results in a forgettable addition to the superhero genre. Madame Web struggles to disentangle itself from its own web of mediocrity, leaving audiences waiting for a more coherent and engaging superhero experience. In the ever-expanding landscape of superhero films, Madame Web becomes a cautionary tale that shows even the most promising trailers can't save a film from the pitfalls of poor execution and misguided creative choices.

Madame Web
Directed by S. J. Clarkson
Written by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Claire Parker, S. J. Clarkson
Story by Kerem Sanga, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Based on Marvel Comics
Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Starring Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O'Connor, Isabela Merced, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott
Cinematography : Mauro Fiore
Edited by Leigh Folsom Boyd
Music by Johan Söderqvist
Production companies : Columbia Pictures, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release dates : February 12, 2024 (Regency Village Theatre), February 14, 2024 (France, United States)
Running time : 116 minutes

Seen February 14, 2024 at Gaumont Disney Village, IMAX Theatre

Mulder's Mark: