Madame Web


Street Date 4/30/24;
Sony Pictures;
Box Office
$43.82 million;
$34.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $49.99 UHD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence/action and language.
Stars Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott, Kerry Bishé, Zosia Mamet, José María Yazpik.

Campy at best, confusing at worst, but mostly tepid bordering on dull, Madame Web represents yet another misguided attempt to expand the live-action cinematic world of Spider-Man without actually involving the web-slinger. However, unlike the surprisingly popular “Venom” movies (who has his own following from the comics) and the unfortunate Morbius, Madame Web at least technically includes an appearance of Peter Parker.

The story takes place in 2003, which would make the film a prequel to the others if they are meant to connect to each other, and centers on Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson), a New York paramedic who becomes clairvoyant after a near-death experience. Her powers relate to mystical spiders in the Amazon jungle being researched by her mother (Kerry Bishé), who died giving birth to her in 1973 after being betrayed by another explorer, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), who was seeking the secrets of an ancient tribe of spider-people.

In the film’s present, the older Ezekiel, who now has spider powers, has a vision of being killed by three girls (Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor) in spider-themed costumes. So he sets about hunting them down. In a moment of serendipity, he finds them all on the same train, which coincidentally Cassie happens to be on as well. When Cassie has a vision of his attack, she kidnaps the girls to protect them, setting her down a path of learning to understand her own powers and the secrets behind them.

Really, any attempt to describe the film doesn’t do it justice. It really has to be seen to be believed. Between Johnson’s aloof performance and a screenplay that buries itself in illogical plot threads, Madame Web is the kind of film that drinking games are made for, which should draw in any number of viewers curious to see if the film is as big of a train wreck its critical and box office response make it out to be.

Among the bonus materials included with the film’s home release are 26 minutes of rote behind-the-scenes footage spread across four featurettes: 

The seven-minute “Future Vision” offers a general making of the film; the nine-minute “Casting the Web” profiles the film’s stars; the five-and-a-half-minute “Fight Like a Spider” details the film’s stunts; and the five-minute “Oracle of the Page” delves into the influence of the Marvel Comics source material. Supplementing these is a four-minute featurette that points out numerous references to the comics.

Also included are a single brief deleted scene and a four-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

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