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🕷🕸⋆A Web-tastic Web-tastrophe ✮⋆˙A Madame Web Review 。°🕸🕷

"I can see the future...kind of."

Production Company: Columbia Pictures

Streaming Service: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: February 14, 2024

Rating: PG-13


WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ! PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION


Review:

Hey readers, I know I'm like really late to the Madame Web conversation, but I have several thoughts. First thing you have to know about me is that I love Spider-Man. He's literally New York's hero, hello? Spider-Man (2002) was my childhood favorite movie, and I would watch it over and over again -- something I still do when I'm feeling nostalgic. Growing up, I was obsessed with the characters and collected all the comics I could get my hands on. Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Doc Ock were all special characters that I held in my heart. The storylines and movies are lowkey sacred to me.

Spider-woman is a very special character for me, especially as she has had so many different iterations over the years like Jessica Drew, Gwen Stacy, and Julia Carpenter. Seeing some of these characters come to life in movies like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, blew my mind, so I was genuinely so excited for Madame Web to come out. I mean, I was so, so geeked to see three of these Spider-Woman iterations (Mattie Franklin, Anya Corazon, and Julia Carpenter) come to life on the big screen! That being said, Madame Web was no Spider-Verse. WTF, Sony...


2024's Madame Web was a bit of a trainwreck. From an entirely unconvincing villain with almost no characterization to one of the worst acting performances of Dakota Johnson's life, Madame Web dragged my morale down to the gutters over its nearly 2-hour runtime. That being said, I have never laughed harder at a Marvel movie before. Not gonna lie, I so wanted to hop on the hate train of Madame Web when the critics first tore it to shreds. However, I can't deny that I really enjoyed parts of it. While a bit nonsensical and even ridiculous at times, the movie was engaging and told an interesting story -- or at least brought interesting characters into the eye of the public. Our story begins deep in the Peruvian rainforest in 1973, with our protagonist's mother, Constance Webb, searching for a famous spider with special healing properties. Spoiler alert: she finds the spider. Then, her snake of a partner, Ezekiel Sims, shoots her (A PREGNANT WOMAN DAYS FROM CHILDBIRTH) point blank and leaves her for dead, spider in tow. Then these scary ass spider-people, las arañas, emerge from the treetops and carry her to this special pool of water where she dies giving birth to her daughter, Cassandra. Las Arañas were super cool, but I wish they further explored their background and significance.

Cut to Manhattan, New York, 2003. Dakota Johnson's detached, aloof, and awkward Cassie Webb is hilarious! Miss Johnson did not want to be on set or even a part of this production, and it shows. I mean, I can understand her awkwardness as a result of being a product of the NYC foster system and being an orphan, but Cassie is like allergic to being personable. As an EMT, Cassie is all-business, which is perfect. But as a human with basic empathy? Not so much. At one point, her patient's son gives her a drawing he made, and she looks so confused/irritated by it... AS IF SHE DIDN'T SAVE HIS MOM FROM DYING???? (P.S. This is Sydney Sweeney's step-brother.) Also, Julia's stepbrother is soooo fake. To make a drawing of your "whole" family to give to an EMT and not even include your dad's other child is weirddddd. He has a daughter, like you literally live with her 🙄🙄 Also, also... Why did they change Carpenter to Cornwall? It's so unnecessary and weird. Julia Cornwall is Spider-Woman? I don't even know who that is.

Cassie's partner is fellow EMT Ben Parker. Sidebar: Adam Scott is #NotmyBenParker. I had to do a damn double-take when I heard that in the theater. First of all, why was Ben flirting so heavily with Cassie when he's literally May's husband??? Ben is literally obsessed with his wife, so his interactions with Cassie implied they had a history or at least weirdly palpable tension, and that's weird. With Mary, too, honestly!! "I'm staying with Mary for a few weeks while Richard is out of town..." side-eye, Richard. Second, where was May? To have Ben and MARY PARKER in the movie but not May or Richard (his own brotherrrr) is crazy. Crazy disappointing!! Also, this is a personal complaint, but Emma Roberts as a blonde, pregnant Mary Parker was an interesting direction to take considering she and her husband Richard are literally CIA agents. I understand that she is pregnant with the future Spider-Man, but I wanted to see more of her backstory and characterization in the movie if she was going to be a part of it. That being said, Emma Roberts definitely brought a sense of humor to the role, and it's cool to know that she is the Mary Parker who gave birth to the Tom Holland version of Spider-Man, as we know very little about his parents or even Uncle Ben in terms of his film trilogy.

TBH, the Sony Marvel films are so disappointing overall that it's kind of rage-inducing at this point. Crucify me if you want, but I do not love Venom! And we're not even going to discuss Morbius. I mean, where is Peter Parker when we need him?? The standards for the Sony Marvel movies have majorly fallen since 2002. Where was Sam Raimi when we needed him most? That being said, the critics of Madame Web have described the movie as "forgettable," which is kind of crazy to me, as I personally believe this movie will go down in cinematic history. Guarantee that this movie will become a cultural phenomenon and an underground classic, much like 2004's Catwoman. It definitely had its moments! For example, I loved the costumes. This was a bit of a hot mess... emphasis on HOT. Everyone looked so good it was crazy. Anya Corazon, for example, cutest ever. Isabela Merced, they could never make me hate you!! Mattie Franklin was definitely serving 2003 energy in Adidas, and Cassie's leather jacket ATE. Y2K-inspired realness. Also, I loved the dynamic of the three girls by the end of the film, but in the beginning, there was a weird amount of tension and animosity, which was unnecessary IMO. Like when Julia introduces herself, Mattie says "We don't need your whole life story." Like, damn, she's just trying to be friendly after she was kidnapped by an unstable psychic. I HATE, HATE, HATE, sarcasm as a coping mechanism. It feels like a cheap way to establish that a character has trust issues. Give us a little substance, pls 🙈

Onto my major concern with this movie: Ezekiel Sims. Where do I begin... Ezekiel Sims was truly the least compelling villain of all time. I mean, Marvel is kind of notorious for having engaging and interesting villains. We love them, we hate them, or we can see their motivations and understand their complexities and nuances. Vulture, for example, became a supervillain trying to provide for his family. Or Norman Osborn's Green Goblin, who essentially takes over his body and uses his to murder and terrorize. Ezekiel Sims had genuinely no substance. I wasn't really able to empathize with him, especially after he shot a pregnant woman in the middle of the jungle 😑 Even after he explained how haunted he is by his nightmares, I was still struggling to care. Essentially, (and for reasons unclear to the audience), Ezekiel has a recurring dream of his death/murder at the hands of three Spider-Women decades in the future. To quote the NSA agent, and my favorite character, "that's a buzzkill." At the same time, I couldn't hate him either. Be it the acting, or the directing, but I don't think his performance stirred up emotions in anyone (except maybe amusement). Seriously. No characterization, no flavor, no believability. Please. Compared to Doc Ock? The Green Goblin??? He wishes. Additionally, Taham Rahim's dialogue never matching was crazy. It was not synched up the whole movie. Like laughably bad dubbing. How this could happen in the 2020s when this movie had an 80 million dollar budget is beyond me. One last complaint... he was barefoot the whole damn film😭😭 So what he has spider powers?? Peter Parker doesn't walk around Forest Hills with his dogs out!! Nor do any of the Spider-Women, if we're pointing out plot holes. Walking on the streets of Manhattan and Queens with no shoes on isn't just insane, it's also dangerous. Ezekiel Sims has clearly never heard of broken glass, needles, or piss. "Comic accurate" my ass. It was so far from comic accuracy, that I found myself asking what was the point. BARE FEET ON THE METRO NORTH IS BEYOND CRIMINAL!!!!! Sick and twisted...


More plot holes:

Aside from Dakota Johnson's bad acting, her interactions with the three teenage pre-Spider-people was... strange, to say the least. Picture this: Cassie has been slowly recognizing her powers of precognition (that manifested after she accidentally died on the job) when she finds herself pulled to Grand Central station. There, she sees visions of these three teenage girls' deaths and starts tweaking on the train. Ezekiel has found them and he wants to kill them before they grow up and have the chance to murder him as fully developed and powerful Spider-Women. Then, she essentially kidnaps these three girls in a stolen taxi cab and brings them to a random forest in New Jersey?? She then proceeds to leave them there for hours with no food, water, or way to communicate with her. 2003 was just a different time, I guess. What's even crazier was her leaving these three teenage girls alone with her partner and his pregnant sister-in-law for a week to fly to Peru later in the movie. They're basically Peter's spider-aunts. EVEN CRAZIER was her basically adopting these three teenagers as a blind paraplegic woman who hates kids...

Furthermore, the stolen taxi cab was the star of the show. She took a STOLEN taxi with a NYC medallion on it for like five different joyrides as a wanted kidnapper. AND left it in plain view in her front yard. Where was NYPD? I guess, fiction isn't too far from reality in this case.


What I liked:

I actually loved the 2003 setting of the story. I know that the producers and director initially wanted a 90s setting to make the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man the baby in the movie, but the Y2K-energy was still very welcome and did its best to breathe a little life into the movie. From Beyonce billboards to Britney Spears mentions, the 2003 energy was strong and interesting. One of my favorite scenes was the one where "Toxic" is playing while Ezekiel is using his poison powers on Cassie. It was a good reminder of the setting, while not being heavy-handed. It was also so funny when Julia commented on Mattie having a phone since that was pretty uncommon for teens during that time.

Additionally, I was a big fan of the little easter eggs in this movie. For example, Mattie tells the group that her Uncle Jonah would be able to help them. Jonah as in J. Jonah Jameson?? Very cool reference. Also, in the diner scene, a man is seen reading The Daily Bugle which was amazing to see, as it is a big part of Spider-Man's world and story.

Another personal favorite scene was the CPR scene, as it showed Cassie's humanity and care for the girls. She never had a mother in her life, but she became a mother figure to each of the girls. The scene was sweet and simple, doing its best to humanize Cassie's generally emotionless persona. Also, Constance Webb was iconic!! The fact that she ventured deep into the rainforest to save her unborn daughter was very sweet and compelling. When she found out Cassie was going to be born with a medical issue, and realized American medicine wouldn't help, she took matters into her own hands. "What are you offering besides tissues?" was crazyyyy. Go Madame Web's mom!


Concluding Thoughts:

This movie was so basic for using "Dreams" by the Cranberries in the end credits. BASIC. And disrespectfully, this movie did not earn it. How many times are studios going to pull out "Dreams" for the credits, thinking it's the perfect song for nostalgia? Personally, I would have leaned into the early-2000s energy and chosen a song from that era for the end credits.

To wrap things up, Madame Web was not as bad as I anticipated, yet in some areas, worse. Was it the worst superhero movie I've ever seen? Maybe. Was it a slap in the face to diehard Marvel and Spider-Man fans? Maybe. But was it genuinely hilarious and did it make me laugh out loud numerous times? YES! Maybe, don't watch if you are expecting seriousness, good acting, or production value. But maybe do watch if you want some light-hearted fun and a good laugh at the movies! Everyone should laugh every once in a while :)


Rating: ★★/★★★★★


Reviewer Name: Sophia Troetel

Date of Review: April 5, 2024

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