Madame Web Film Review
What Katy RevIewed Next Paramedic Cassandra Webb unlocks psychic powers & protects mysterious young women from a deadly threat. Action-packed origin story for a new hero in the Spider-Man Universe
Madame Web

Madame Web

Madame Web
Overview: Paramedic Cassandra Webb unlocks psychic powers & protects mysterious young women from a deadly threat. Action-packed origin story for a new hero in the Spider-Man Universe
Genre: Superhero, Sci-Fi, Action
UK Release Date: 14-02-2024
Studio: Columbia Pictures (presents), Di Bonaventura Pictures, Marvel Entertainment
Director:  S. J. Clarkson
Top-Billed Cast: Dakota Johnson Sydney Sweeney Isabela Merced Celeste O'Connor
Running Time: 1hr 56mins
UK Classification:
Classified 12A12A
Katy's Score:
41104  (Translation: Poor)
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I have tried to stay away from the reviews of Madame Web as the few I did come across were all negative. Since The Marvels got thoroughly panned online yet the people I spoke to said it was good I’ve started to ignore what reviewers and Twitter edge-lords are saying about movies and shows so I can form my own unbiased opinion.

In this case I should have believed the reviews. But before we get into the issues with the film let’s take a look at what it’s about.

The Plot

Cassandra “Cassie” Web is a paramedic who is partnered with Ben Parker (Adam Scott – Parks And Recreation). Yes, that Ben Parker.

During a call out to a car that is teetering off the side of a bridge, Cassie gets into the vehicle to assist the injured occupant. The driver gets out but when they do the car falls into the river below.

Somehow Cassie is pulled from the sinking car and Ben administers CPR, bringing her back to life. Apparently she was dead for three minutes but that doesn’t stop her going to a baby shower being held for Mary Parker (Emma Roberts – American Horror Story) – yes, Spider-Man’s mother – where some of the most unnatural dialogue I have ever heard uttered on screen is spoken:

Cassie: “I’m Cassie Webb thank you for having me”
Mary: “You’re Ben’s partner, I’m his sister-in-law Mary”

Does Cassie not know whose baby shower she is attending? Did Ben never mention his heavily pregnant sister-in-law to Cassie? It seem like the kind of thing you would talk about while eating a sandwich or something.

Anyway, I digress.

The near-drowning has had an effect on Cassie and she now starts experiencing what seems to be déjà vu where she starts seeing things that haven’t happened yet.

After a scene where she saves a pigeon from flying into a window and dying (with some of the worst CGI I think I have seen and I routinely watch so-bad-they’re-good shark films), Cassie realises that the futures isn’t set in stone and she can change it.

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While taking time off work because, you know, she DIED, Cassie goes to a train station where she has a vision of three teenage girls being attacked by a masked assailant. Cassie manages to save the girls and this pits the four of them against Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim – Napoleon), a man with such limited backstory I had to search IMDB to find out what the character’s name is.

Ezekiel has seen the girls in a vision where they were fighting him in the future and ultimately beat him so he’s now made it his mission to find them and kill the girls before they can kill him.

Cassie must learn to trust her powers and her new found family if she is to stop Sims from killing them and using his own super spider powers for evil.

Well, I assume he’ll use them for evil. We don’t know why he wanted the spider powers or what he’s been using them for apart from stealing some extremely futuristic looking computer kit from the NSA. What else does he do with them? Rob banks? Kill people like a vigilante? We don’t know and it’s never explained.

And for anyone wondering, Madame Web is set in 2003. I thought I’d mention that as that was something else I had to look up as it wasn’t made overly clear and just by playing Toxic by Britney Spears doesn’t immediately clue me in to the fact we’re watch something set over 20 years ago – I still listen to it today, okay? Don’t @ me.

Oh and if you want to be nerdy then it must be set after November 15th 2003 as that’s when the album “In The Zone” was released which had Toxic as a track – it wasn’t released as a single until 2004, but if that’s the case how come the characters were running around in light jackets and crop tops – isn’t New York cold in November? And since when do radio stations play album tracks unless it’s a specialist program?

Also, the guy on the train is playing a Sony PSP (product placement much, Sony?) which wasn’t released in the US until March 2005 so time travel I guess?

Anyway, I digress again.

The Good

I liked the way that they did the future visions scenes where you can tell something isn’t quite right but can’t put your finger on it and then you’re pulled back into “now” in various different ways. This meant is didn’t get boring to watch the flashforwards as they were all filmed a little differently.

The Bad

Pretty much all of it.

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First of all, let’s talk about the characters.

Julia (Sydney Sweeney – Anyone But You), Anya (Isabela Merced – Instant Family) and Celeste O’Connor (Ghostbusters: Afterlife) are supposed to be teenagers. Anya even says the following at one point:

“Until I’m 18 I can’t exist and there’s no way I’m getting deported too”

So these girls aren’t even 18 and yet they’re played by actresses that are 26, 22 and 25 respectively. Are you telling me there were no suitable actresses under the age of 20 in the whole of Hollywood?

We get some very clunky exposition about the girls while they all sit in a motel room and it didn’t make me care about them or connect with them one bit. Sure, they don’t have perfect lives but who does? Your Dad was deported, sucks to be you. Your Dad doesn’t want you living with him? Sucks to be you. Your parent’s didn’t really want you so you live with a housekeeper? Sucks to be you.

And speaking of exposition, the way we find out about some of Cassie’s backstory is by her reading a remarkably well preserved journal to her cat. Yes, her CAT.

And when it comes to Ezekiel Sims, we know hardly anything. He stole a spider and now has spider powers but how? Does he need to use the spider regularly or is it a one and done? What is this mysterious “fate” he is running from? And how did he see the future – is it like Cassie where he sees it all the time or did he just have a single vision? We don’t know because the 4 (yes, count them FOUR writers) don’t know or care either.

Speaking of 4 writers, it’s almost as though they had a rough plot and then went to live at the four corners of the Earth to write their allotted acts without ever talking to each other. The script is quite disjointed, there’s no character development (aside from Cassie’s powers) at all and we have characters such as Ben and Mary that looked like they were supposed to have more substantial roles and then just randomly pop up as a plot device when needed.

It’s almost like they quickly skimmed the comics and were like “Nah! We don’t need to know any of that, let’s do our own thing” and boy did that “thing” suck.

The Awkward

And now we come to the acting.

Oh boy!

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I don’t know if Dakota Johnson has ever seen a Marvel film because I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself in to.

Now I will hold my hand up here and say that I am not a fan of hers. I found Fifty Shades Of Grey hilarious (not in a good way) and she was passable in Ben And Kate but I really don’t rate her as an actress – certainly not one I’d pick as a lead in an action movie.

Then we have Sydney Sweeney. I didn’t mention it in my review of Anyone But You but she was slightly wooden when compared to her co-star Glenn Powell but I put down to the fact that he was playing an extremely charismatic character. It turns out it wasn’t that and monotone delivery seems to be her go-to mode of acting.

Merced and O’Connor are the only two that bring some personability to their roles but they’re hardly on screen so that really doesn’t save anything in the end.

Also, considering that Cassie is a paramedic, she doesn’t know how to do CPR very well, teaching the girls to do it (in my view as a First Aider) incorrectly which is rather worrying. You need to ensure that you’re fast enough to pump the blood around the body and this is never explained (she just says that when the next person takes over you need to keep the same rhythm). The recommended way to perfom CPR is 30 pumps and then 2 rescue breaths (although you can forgo the rescue breaths). Let Vinnie Jones show you the correct way to do it:


And finally, let’s talk product placement.

Cassie wanders through the baby shower scene waving a can of Pepsi around – I hope she opened it over a sink because that bad boy is about to explode. It was so obvious it was painful, even more painful than that Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.

It gets even worse though – the entire final action sequence is set against the backdrop of a HUGE retro PepsiCo sign. They should have just put the actors in Pepsi merch and have done with it.

Final Thoughts

The plot is so contrived I was laughing at one point. As an example if Cassie’s mum died in Peru how did Cassie get to America? Why not leave her in Peru with the spider people instead of dumping her in US Foster care only for her to come back later? How could people who live in trees afford a plane ticket?

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Did they not realise when writing the script they were ripping off Spider-Man or were they attempting to pay homage to it and missing the mark completely?

Spider Man Who Lives In A Tree In Peru: “You are the only one who can change the future… and when you take on the responsibility great power will come”

Um! Excuse me! Ripping off Uncle Ben much?

And as for the directing, why they chose this director I don’t know.

From what I can see this is S.J. Clarkson’s first feature film. Why on earth would you put a first-timer in charge of an $80 million film which is supposed to act as a tentpole movie for a future spider-girls series.

I really don’t think directing 8 episodes of EastEnders and two episodes of Jessica Jones are enough to build up the skills necessary to handle a film of this size and nature.

Sure she was hampered by a clunky script (which, hilariously, she also helped to write) but she couldn’t direct her cast out of a paper bag if she tried. Her directing style was formulaic, static, brought nothing new to a heavily oversaturated genre and she couldn’t get any emotions out of the cast at all.

I really, really, wanted this movie to be be good, especially after the bashing The Marvels got, but there was little of note to find in what is an extremely mediocre superhero film with very little superhero action and even less of a plot.

The movie is truly a car crash from start-to-finish which is ironic as the car crash scene was probably the best thing about this film.

Watch this if you want to scream “Do you not know how to emote?” at the screen every 5 minutes.