Sony animation Spider Worms the films have been incredible, which is more than can be said for the studio's efforts to create its own MCU-adjacent live-action film series centered around Spider-Man. This process got off to an awkward start with Venom and its sequel before failing with that of 2022 Morbiusand it now completely crashes and burns with Madame Web, a tortuous saga that unfortunately goes in circles trying to craft a competent tone or coherent action sequence. Whatever its heroine's clairvoyant superpowers, she's a debacle incapable of seeing – and therefore avoiding – her every subsequent misstep.
Madame Web (February 14, in theaters) begins in the Peruvian Amazon circa 1973, with Constance (Kerry Bishé) searching for a rare spider with potentially magical healing powers (thanks to its peptides!). After finding what she's looking for, Constance is quickly betrayed by her bodyguard Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), who wants the spider and its abilities for himself. Left for dead, Constance is saved by the legendary jungle spiders, who take her back to their spider cave, put her in a swimming pool, and force their pet spiders to bite her, which doesn't protect her from death but him. allows you to be born. baby to live. It's as absurd as it sounds, and director SJ Clarkson stages it with all the grace of a runaway train, its instant zooms, whiplash cinematography, canted angles and overly theatrical lighting making this embarrassing and comical prologue.
Thirty years later, in New York, Constance's now-adult daughter, Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) – yes, that's her last name, and no, no one jokes about that – is a paramedic working alongside Ben Parker (Adam Scott), aka the future uncle of the original Spider-Man Peter Parker, whose name is never spoken but whose birth (thanks to Emma Roberts' future Mary Parker) is a tangential factor in these proceedings disordered. Cassandra is a fearless lifesaver even though she is far from a people person, as she demonstrates when she rudely accepts a thank-you gift from a young boy whose loved one Cassandra brought to the hospital. Awkwardly played by Johnson, Cassandra is dedicated to her altruistic profession and is also something of a loner – a contrast that never comes together and is not helped by the lead nor under- or over-acting. every moment of the film, thus transforming it. in a showcase of unintentionally hilarious expressions and utterances.
Written by Clarkson, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless and Claire Parker, Madame Web is full of bad dialogue poorly delivered by talented men and women stuck with lousy material and equally lousy management, and no one is more poorly served than Rahim.
The film's villain, Ezekiel, is blessed with spectacular speed and strength (and the ability to dispense poison through his touch), as well as nighttime visions of his death at the hands of three mysterious women enhanced by spiders. Therefore, he works to prevent his imminent demise by locating and assassinating these individuals. At first, this mission motivates him to seduce and assassinate an NSA agent (Jill Hennessy) so that he can steal her techno-surveillance systems and track down his potential assassins. His later efforts are marked by one absurd detail after another, beginning with his skill in fashioning perfect drawings of his homicidal dream trio for his featureless henchwoman Amaria (Zosia Mamet).
Rahim is a native French speaker, but that doesn't excuse the horror of his largely ADR line readings, which seem to have been filtered by an AI voice program. Madame Web then draws more attention to this nouveau-spaghetti Western aesthetic device by hiding Rahim's mouth in darkness in almost every shot in which he is not wearing his costume – which is an obvious, pedestrian riff on the iconic costume from Spider-Man. These two outfits are so similar that coincidence could not explain it, and yet Clarkson's film offers no different explanation, apparently because it assumes that all moviegoers would naturally assume that if they acquired extrasensory abilities of arachnid, this would be the only design choice for a costume.
While saving a man from a car on a bridge, Cassandra suffers an accident that triggers latent psychic powers which she soon uses to save Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Mattie Franklin (Celeste O'Connor) and Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced ) of Ezekiel. on a Metro North train whose sumptuous interior is undoubtedly the most fanciful facet of this unreal film. Defined solely by their cartoonish appearances and behaviors, Julia is the awkward white nerd, Mattie is the brash black skateboarder, and Anya is the nondescript undocumented Latina, and all are linked by their lack (literal or figurative) of parents.
Luckily, in Cassandra, they have a surrogate mother, although before they can accept her as their caregiver, they have to engage in a lot of irritable back-and-forth that would make an average '90s teen TV series cringe. , Sweeney fares worst, being asked to squirm and stutter awkwardly while dressed as a flirtatious schoolgirl, and it's easy to imagine that if her star had been as bright at the start of production (in 2022) as it is now, it would have quickly done so. passed on the thankless part.
Madame WebCassandra's story involves Cassandra gaining the trust of her charges and, in doing so, protecting them from Ezekiel, whose failure to kill three average teenagers quickly becomes a referendum on his third-rate villainy. Clarkson's compositions are clunky, his musical elements are inelegant, and his flourishes are period-specific (a Beyoncé album billboard, a reference to American idol) tense and unnecessary, since there's no reason to draw attention to 2003 except to point out that it happens about two decades before everyone's favorite wall-crawler arrives in New York .
Cassandra's eventual trip to Peru to reunite with her spider benefactors is ridiculous, as are the means by which she exploits and ultimately uses her gifts of divination during a finale that doesn't understand how dynamite works and sadly screams until at the conclusion of Sam. Raimi 2002 Spider Man.
Ultimately, it all comes down to Julia, Mattie, and Anya demonstrating that they were attentive when Cassandra taught them how to properly perform CPR. Based on Madame WebHowever, Sony's Spider-Man universe is now completely lifeless and in no need of resuscitation.