Movie Review

'Madame Web' On Netflix Movie Review: Each Element In The Underwhelming 'Superhero' Film Leads You Into A Web of Disappointment

Outlook Rating:
1.5 / 5

Marvel and Sony's 'Madame Web' has finally landed on Netflix. Is this movie worth your time? Or can you go ahead and give it a skip? Read on to know more.

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'Madame Web' Photo: Netflix
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As a huge Marvel fan, I felt compelled to watch ‘Madame Web’ to check it off my bucket list. However, after hearing all the negative reviews, I decided to hold off and wait for it to be available on OTT platforms. Now that it’s landed on Netflix and is surprisingly performing well on its first day of digital debut, I’ve decided to give it a chance. So, if you’re considering watching this Marvel production, here’s everything you need to know about it.

‘Madame Web’: Story

The story revolves around Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson), a paramedic who discovers the secrets of a rare spider species with healing properties, linked to her and her late mother. Living a careless life, Cassandra’s psychic abilities as a clairvoyant start to trouble her, causing confusion. She soon becomes entangled in a dangerous web of fate, where she must protect Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) from Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), her late mother’s former colleague. Throughout the movie, we witness Cassandra’s journey as she comes to understand her powers and the reasons behind Ezekiel’s desire to kill the three teenage girls.

‘Madame Web’: Performances

While the premise appeared promising, the lead stars in the movie didn’t seem to fully believe in their performances. I mean, this has to be Dakota Johnson’s weakest performance. She’s expressionless and emotionless most of the time, and when she does display emotion, she moves on too quickly. But despite that, you’d still end up cheering for her, even if you could see her next move coming from a mile away.

Coming to the girls, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O’Connor assume important roles, but their portrayals just don’t hit the mark. Despite their essential roles, their on-screen presence lacks the striking impact expected of pivotal characters. Throughout the film, they haven’t been able to deliver any standout moments. On the other hand, one actor I had high expectations for was Tahar Rahim. He had all the potential to be a threatening antagonist. But the script, more precisely the lack of back story, failed him.

None of the other supporting characters particularly stood out.

‘Madame Web’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

‘Madame Web’ kicks off well and will keep you hooked by sparking curiosity about two different timelines. Like Cassandra herself, you too will end up being confused about the visions she’s seeing; the movie will keep you thinking about what’s going on. However, as more characters start to come into the picture, the story starts to feel a bit unclear. It seemed like Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Claire Parker, and S.J. Clarkson struggled with moving the plot forward smoothly. The entire narrative started to feel like it was written out of convenience. Questions arise like what has Ezekiel been up to all these years, how he got his powers, how is Cassandra (mind you, she’s a wanted person) able to travel across continents without getting caught, or how come the police aren’t showing up within seconds if there’s a helicopter that blasted mid-air. There are so many questions, and together, they just don’t give you answers.

In terms of visuals, Mauro Fiore’s camera work isn’t very impressive. There are a lot of snap zooms and medium close-up shots, which can be overwhelming. The camera moves so quickly that it’s hard to understand what’s really happening. Even the editing is way too abrupt. In a superhero movie, action sequences are supposed to be easy to follow, but there are rapid cuts that don’t let you fully absorb yourself into one particular setting. It’s like you’re deep in the Amazon Forests and within the blink of an eye, you’re back in your driveway in New York. So, Leigh Folsom Boyd could have done a better job in ensuring smooth transitions.

One standout feature perhaps is the music. Other than the part where you will find yourself grooving to Britney Spears’ hit ‘Toxic,’ the compositions by Johan Söderqvist not only enhance the emotional depth but also create the nerve-wracking tension required, no matter how predictable. It’s a perfect Marvel score!

But overall, the S.J. Clarkson directorial feels hollow. The movie feels more like an introduction to Cassandra’s powers, with a lot of time spent on her trying to understand what’s happening or come to terms with the fact that she has powers. But even in doing so, the execution has failed. At the end of the day, it serves its purpose of introducing Madame Web as a Marvel superhero, but it’s a straightforward story that doesn’t leave your jaws dropped and leaves you with a dissatisfactory feeling towards the end. But considering how Marvel is making movies these days, I didn’t really have any high hopes.

‘Madame Web’: Cast & Crew

Director: S. J. Clarkson

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, and Adam Scott

Available On: Netflix  

Duration: 116 minutes                

Premiere Date: May 16, 2024

Genre: Action, Science Fiction

Language: English

‘Madame Web’: Can Kids Watch It?

Yes.

Outlook’s Verdict

Overall, ‘Madame Web’ is one big mess. There are quite a few yawning moments, but I’ll have to admit, I’m waiting to see how Sony and Marvel take forward the storyline. There’s a lot of potential for the three future superheroes, and hopefully, their representations will be far better. The movie doesn’t leave a big mark in the superhero genre. Instead, it feels like a lukewarm introduction of the characters in an already exhausted universe.

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