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Arts and Entertainment

Madame Web fails to catch viewers

By: Staff Writer Sahas Goli

Released on February 14, Madame Web is the newest installment of the Sony Spider-Man Universe (SSU). Rather than following the appreciable appeal of Venom, however, Madame Web seems to have swung in the direction of its more infamous peer, Morbius. With a woefully inadequate plot and underwhelming cinematography, the movie struggles to present a coherent narrative to viewers.


The movie centers around Cassandra (Cassie) Web (Dakota Johnson), a paramedic in New York City who awakens her prophetic powers after a near-death experience. Using her ability, Web sees a future in which villain Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim) kills three young girls, Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney). Web sets out to protect them and, in the process, discovers more about herself and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of her mother.

From a production standpoint, Madame Web fails to deliver the quality seen in other SSU movies, such as the Venom duology. The fight choreography is repeated at multiple points in the movie, and the cinematography is constantly interrupted by shaking and perspective shifts reminiscent of an amateur nature documentary. The climactic action scene of the movie, which often possesses most of the animation budget, has noticeable computer-generated imagery (CGI) elements that break the immersion of viewers. There are some notable uses of audio to create tension, but the soundtrack is mostly unremarkable cinematic music seen in any action movie.

The narrative of the movie is underdeveloped as well; viewers are constantly left questioning basic plot elements. Events and conflicts in the film are driven by the protagonists’ poor decisions, a narrative choice that feels more at home in a horror movie than a superhero one. This approach undermines the characters’ competence and growth, creating a sense of frustration for viewers. From the beginning to the end, there is hardly any exposition regarding the world and its characters. Sims is not introduced at all, and viewers must simply accept that a murderous supervillain is hunting the protagonists without any further premise. This plot fails to make him more than a MacGuffin meant to drive the plot.

Web’s exploration of her supernatural abilities, a staple of any superhero movie, is also done quite poorly. Initially, it is presented as a prophetic ability that shows Web’s possible futures. Later in the movie, she travels to Peru in an archetypal training sequence to learn more about her past and abilities. However, even though the audience is supposed to be learning about her backstory alongside her, the training sequence only raises more questions and further confuses viewers. In the final fight, her abilities change in a contrived way into telekinesis, suddenly saving everyone and resolving conflict to create an unsatisfying ending.

Despite its other bugs, the silver lining of the film lies in the skill and delivery of the actors and their dialogue. In between moments of action, the banter between the cast feels like genuine conversation. From combative remarks to playful quips and all the awkward moments in between, O’Connor, Merced, and Sweeney bring out the zeitgeist characteristic of teenagers. Viewers can see the personalities of each character, learning about their backgrounds from their words and interactions.

Ultimately, Madame Web feels like an incomplete movie, as if a storyboard for a much larger movie were cut down to the current 116 minutes. Viewers must assume character motivations and plot details using stereotypical tropes because the movie itself provides no information. The movie fails to make up for this with any exceptional production either. However, the actors have made the most of what they are given through their performances. A large step down from the Spiderman movies Sony is known for, Madame Web does not signal a promising future for the Sony Spiderman Universe.

Rating: C

Graphics by: Glamour Magazine, AMC Theaters, API Time

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