Genre: Action/Comics/Fantasy
Director: S.J. Clarkson
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Emma Roberts, Isabela Merced, Adam Scott
Runtime: 2 hrs
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Sony Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 15 February 2024

Synopsis: Meanwhile, in another universe…” In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who may have clairvoyant abilities. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women destined for powerful futures...if they can all survive a deadly present.

Movie Review:

Based on Marvel Comics, the plot unfolds in Peruvian Amazon in 1973 with a brief backstory on Ezekiel Sims and Constance Webb, a spider researcher, before making a quick cut to New York with an ambulance meandering through the bustling streets.

No less than an everyday superhero in her waking life, Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) who’s a paramedic by the day, evolves into a superwoman with divinatory powers as soon as she plunges into deep waters in the midst of a rescue mission and her life is riddled with premonitions thereafter. Stuck in a time loop that’s dubbed as an unfathomable sense of déjà vu, Webb discovers her ability to use her mind that comes with infinite potential to manifest herself at various places at the same time.

So, is the web spun by Madame Web too delicate to beckon the audience to the edge of their seats or it’s just another Spider-Man-less movie in the Spider-Verse based on the reviews given from the chauvinistic Marvel wannabe critics’ perspective?

Quit feeling like you’ve been living under a rock for not being acquainted to Johnson’s character. If you had imagined Madame Web to look a lot more like Stan Lee’s wife, (Joan Lee voiced Madame Web in 1994 Spider-Man TV show), that’s not it. Not on Cassie’s watch at least! In the original pulp form, Madame Web who’s an ally of Spider-Man and a telepathic mutant gifted with clairvoyance is basically a visually-challenged senior citizen with a neuromuscular autoimmune disorder that necessitates her connection to a spiderweb-like life support system. Also, she does not actively fight villains. But in the latest entry in Sony's Spidey-adjacent slate of films, they’ve just made her glimpses into the future a more heightened version of Spider-Sense.

Let’s talk about Ezekiel Sims who isn’t even a Spiderman or one in the alternate universe to begin with. But he possesses similar powers acquired in a more supernatural fashion. Sadly, the 116-minute actioner has subverted the comic arc of his character and the entire Madame Web lore. Did the makers of the film do him dirty? Kinda! Endowed with powers to stick on to any surface and wall-crawling, Sims played by Tahar Rahim dons the dark version of the classic Spider-Man costume (unlike in the comics where he never wore one) and that might imply the merging of characters, Morlun and Ezekiel, in Madame Web. The only common ground seems to be shared by the comic version and the live-action portrayal of “Zeke” who is well-versed in occult is his wealth and Spidey supremacies. The peculiar yet formidable character’s would-be victims who are just teenagers, possess the power to become Spider- Women and he’s threatened by that and the nightly visions he has about his oncoming demise. As weird as it already is, Sim's lip movements weren't in sync with the audio and his malefic character gets dialled down each time he whips out the victim card with the “I had nothing to begin with” dialogue that drips heavy with pity party.

**SPOILER ALERT** We’d be more than glad to spoil it for anyone who’s still lost on what the whole arachnidian flick is about. Madame Web depicts the existence before Peter Parker’s era (before he was even born). The paramedic that is partnered up with Webb is the younger version of Uncle Ben (Adam Scott). Julia Carpenter (Sydney Sweeney) has basically the same powers as Spider-Man, except that her snares are psionic webs spun from thin air. Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) leans more to Miles Morales, where she possesses venom blast powers and, oh, she flies too. Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) is more like Miles as she can camouflage just like him, but with organic webs.

Set in early Y2K for the most part, Sony's first female-fronted film in its Spider-Man universe certainly lends an element of nostalgia with the absence of radically annoying technology and the selection of tunes grounds it even more, thus setting the tone and ambience. While the psychological thriller with meek and modest CGI lacks some levity, it's highly commendable that Johnson was bold enough to take on the role of a cape-less hero, given her hallmark deadpan look.

Is the modern comic book adaptation on par with Disney’s Avengers? Well, it could have been more ambitious and eccentric than it turned out. Nevertheless, thanks to the edits owing to some creative reimagining, cinematography with darker tones and, of course, the featured soundtracks that propel the suspense-driven thriller to an endurable spectrum. What truly makes up for the weak dialogues and shabby plot that doesn't boast of complex stunt sequences and futuristic cars is actually the bittersweet ending where one needs no prophetic vision to foresee a sequel. All in all, it’s a fine blend of Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow, Nicholas Cage’s Next and a hint of Quantum Leap series punctuated with periodic flashbacks of Final Destination.

Movie Rating:



(A powerhouse of feminine badassery? Nah! But a notable chemistry among the foursome connected by a wisp of gossamer thread is what hails Madame Web as a worthy watch)

Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas


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