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‘Madame Web’ Review: A Tangled Mess All the Way Through

While I was watching the latest installment of the Sony Spider-Man Universe (SSU), Madame Web continued to make me question its choices as the two-hour runtime went on: Why was that scene edited like that? Why were certain lines delivered that way? Why was a script that felt muddled and lacking depth ever greenlit? These were just some of the uncertainties that continued to cast shadows over the entire movie. Stick around as we untangle these queries and crawl through the intricate web of decisions, examining the resulting film with a keen eye.

Curious about Madame Web’s role in the SSU and who she is? Discover more here.


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Unraveling the mysteries of Cassandra Webb aka Madame Web

Cassandra “Cassie” Webb, played by Dakota Johnson, is a paramedic in New York City who begins to show signs of clairvoyance. As she navigates revelations from her past, she finds herself responsible for safeguarding three young women destined to become Spider-People — played by Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O’Connor — shielding them from the sinister Ezekiel Sims, portrayed by Tahar Rahim.

Madame Web heavily references the early 2000s era it is set in. From the blaring Britney Spears hit “Toxic” during a fight scene to a prominent Beyoncé poster, and mentions of Martha Stewart’s legal troubles, the film immerses viewers in 2003. The numerous Pepsi-Cola ads, even in critical scenes like the climax, were a bit too conspicuous. The overt product placements detracted from the movie, making it hard not to cringe at their frequency.

A series of missteps: The arachno-mess in Madame Web

Easily the most significant issue I found in the movie was its lackluster ADR (automated dialogue replacement), a common practice in films for matching studio-recorded dialogue with on-set recordings to fix errors or aid sound mixing. Madame Web was the first film I watched in theaters where I noticed the actors’ mouth movements blatantly didn’t sync with their words, a basic flaw that shouldn’t occur from a studio of Sony’s repute. The film’s main offender was its villain Ezekiel, whose poorly dubbed lines, paired with robotic delivery, resulted in an unimpressive and forgettable performance — not to mention the complete lack of explanation for his motivations.

Another puzzling aspect was the introduction of the Spider-People clan in Peru, a creation absent from the comics. This departure from established source material, spanning over 60 years, raises questions about the filmmakers’ lack of research into the character and Spider-Man lore, opting for the easier route of inventing new content. Paired with the reveal that Cassie’s close friend and coworker, Ben Parker (played by Adam Scott), is now uncle to a noteworthy nephew named Peter, this new story element carries negative undertones suggesting appropriation of the ancient Peruvian tribe in the form of future Spider-People’s suits.

With great potential comes little viability

While I admittedly entered the movie with low expectations, the premise still held potential for me. Picture Cassie, the future-seeing protagonist, facing off against Ezekial, the poison-touched antagonist, in a battle of wits versus strength. The concept hinted at intriguing possibilities, especially with Cassie’s ability to foresee the future. Imagining combat sequences where she anticipated every blow, taking out enemies strategically, or delving into the complex consequences of altering the past could have been compelling. Yet, disappointingly, none of these ideas materialized. What we received was a lackluster and shallow experience, falling short even of being entertainingly bad. Madame Web stands out as one of the weakest comic book adaptations, exemplifying Sony’s struggle to salvage its failing concept — the SSU.

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Want to learn more about the future of the SSU and what Sony has planned for their upcoming Kraven the Hunter film? Check it out here!

See Madame Web for yourself and let us know what you think the future of the SSU will be on X (formerly Twitter).


Ben Ahrens_Author Headshot 2Ben Ahrens is a versatile Silicon Valley-based writer, content marketer, photographer, and graphic designer. His passion lies in crafting engaging stories for the entertainment industry and embracing the tech culture of the Bay Area to uncover the next ground-breaking innovations. When not weaving words, you’ll find him curating the perfect playlist for every occasion or exploring the diverse landscapes of Northern California.

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