Madame Web (2024): Is it a Web of Wonder or Absurdity?


Here we are with Madame Web for the one that I was excited about. Madame Web, the iconic trailer came out. We were blessed with the line “he was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders just before she died.” That line isn’t in the movie. That’s okay. There are at least a dozen even crazier lines. Before I get too excited, let me just say, that I think this might be the worst movie I’ve seen since Noah Santino was robbed. That’s saying a lot.

Dakota Johnson’s Casting: A Mismatch?

Madame Web is the latest entry into the Sony Cinematic Universe. It tells the story of a New York City paramedic named Cassandra Web. What happens when she begins to glimpse the future? It’s so black. It’s just shitty that Raven stars Dakota Johnson, so let’s start there. You see, I can’t read Dakota Johnson as an actor or as a person. I can never really tell how serious he is being both on and off-screen. It’s what she’s doing, I love it. It’s hilarious to me. Whoever’s idea it was to cast her as the lead in a superhero movie is even more hilarious.

Performance Critique: Tahar Rahim’s Peculiar ADR

At least to me, her whole thing is this dry kind of delivery. She acts nonchalantly. Nothing is serious to her and nothing is a joke. Her type of acting feels wildly out of place in this film. You can almost see Adam Scott start to act more like her as the movie progresses. I don’t blame him. How are you supposed to do these scenes with someone saying lines like that? They’re on a completely different wavelength for the movie.

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Dialogue and Writing (Madame Web)

She turns this movie into something she’s never seen before. I don’t categorize this as a superhero movie, it feels like something stranger than that. The worst performance here, by far, is Tahar Rahee as Ezekiel Sims. I don’t doubt he’s a great actor outside of this, but they did something with him here that is inexcusable. Something was wrong.

It sounded like ADR, which is fine. That happens. It’s some of the worst ADR I’ve heard in recent years. That’s surprising in such a big studio. But what confused me was the fact that it was like that. It wasn’t just that first scene that seemed to be ADR, it was every one of his scenes. I counted them in a moment.

Setting and Period: Lack of Authenticity

I mean, there were maybe three lines of his that felt kind of normal. There were even scenes in the back half where he was walking and his mouth wasn’t moving but he was talking. They just didn’t get any shots of him talking; it was the audio that was messed up. So, in an $80 million movie, maybe I got distracted. There’s a reason why he sounds like that or why his mouth doesn’t move. But my god, once you notice it, he makes every scene of his hilarious. It seems a little sketchy, but not as sketchy as the prying eyes of hackers.

Technical Aspects: Visual and Editing Critique

The performances are just the tip of the iceberg. Again, how much can we blame the actors when they have to read such strange lines? This line isn’t even in the film, but that’s how the dialogue operates here. It just trails off and feels like it never ends. Even when the dialogue flows correctly, the lines themselves are ridiculous. For example, there’s a line where Dakota Johnson feels kind of lonely. She goes through a box of her belongings and says to herself, “Hope the spiders were worth it, Mom.” I’m underselling it. But, how can you not laugh a little at that line?

Character Development: Lack of Superhero Moments

In a room, supposed to be emotional, saying, “Hope the spiders were worth it, Mom.” My personal favorite was laughing even on the ride home. It was when Dakota Johnson entered her apartment. She’s worried about some documents. Her cat meows. She goes, “One second, Cat.” Did they not have time to give the cat a name? Is the cat’s name Cat? Do people refer to their pets that way? Plus, she’s delivering it in that Dakota Johnson (Madame Web) way that’s like everything about this is normal. There’s no urgency to this situation.

Soundtrack and Score: Issues with Integration

I’ll admit, the more I explain it, maybe it’s not that strange on the surface. When you think about them for a second, you start to realize there are not many normal interactions in this movie. It’s amazing. The movie is set in 2003, an aspect they put astonishingly little effort into. For a second, it seems like their only reference is Beyonce.

There’s like two different Beyonce posters. You have to wonder, is that the only thing they remember from 2003? Anyway, I think we’ve established that the writing and dialogue here are ridiculous. If I had access to the film and could quote it directly, I’d be going all day. These are just a few examples out of many, many, many lines that I thought were insane.

Cinematography (Madame Web)

But let’s talk about the technical aspects. For an $80 million superhero flick (Madame Web), you’d expect it to at least be sort of a spectacle. Even Venom, which isn’t great, was interesting to look at. I thought Venom himself looked kind of cool. But no. Oh no, not. The big climax of this film is one of the most hidden things I’ve ever seen. Are they even trying with the green screen anymore? It’s more noticeable than it’s ever been. It feels like we’re going downhill. It’s distracting ugly, and, most importantly, disorienting. It’s one thing to look hidden.

Madame Web
Madame Web

Reflection: Enjoying the Film Despite Its Flaws

But when I have no clue where we are in the scene, that’s a bigger problem. There’s no sense of space. The edit is beyond choppy. The digital zooms and pans are absurd. It makes it hard to feel invested in anything happening on screen. There’s no sense of scale to it. Isn’t that the whole appeal? Sorry, spoiler alert. Are we at a point where you don’t get to see the main character be a superhero until the final 30 seconds?

I know it’s the first film and it’s mostly to set up a bunch of other movies. It just seems so pointless and unfulfilling to me. These original films that were supposed to turn into trilogies and franchises used to be special. Now they’re just pieces to a bigger thing. Why do people like these movies? What’s the joy in just constantly watching setups for years? How depressing.

Technical Mishaps and Cinematic Style

The song’s beat is super janky because it plays over the film’s score and other action noises. It’s like a mess. Oh man, I almost forgot the camera work. Near the beginning, they choose to use a handheld, crash zoom style. This style is like in “The Office” or “Succession,” and it’s for the opening action scene. They do it for about 10 minutes, then never again. It’s like a different director entirely. It adds nothing to the scene. If anything, it’s distracting and a little disorienting. I’m serious, this is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. But let’s wind down a bit.

Embracing the “So Bad, It’s Good” Phenomenon

I’ve seen a handful of bad movies these last few years: “Mean Girls,” “Exorcist Believer,” “Thor,” “Jurassic World Dominion.” But looking back, those were total slogs. This, on the other hand, is on another level. This is my favorite kind of bad movie. It’s a lot of people’s favorite kind of bad movie because it’s so bad that it becomes a pretty good time. Every scene in this thing had something new to offer, something offensive.

Memorable Moments: Highlighting the Absurdity

It was a bad choice to wrap my head around. I didn’t even get into the whole, like, table dance thing. Sydney Sweeney and her gang stand up at a diner table and dance for some boys. They’re dancing so awkwardly. It’s so great. There’s a long scene where Dakota Johnson’s teaching them how to do CPR. It goes on for so long. It’s weird. The reveal of Madame Web’s superpower, which is built up like this huge thing, ends up being the most underwhelming superpower I’ve ever seen in a film.

Conclusion (Madame Web)

It’s just the ghost of her helping out the girls. It was a fascinating 2 hours. In 15 years, when this gets the midnight screening treatment, you bet your ass I’ll be seated. I will happily watch this again. At the end of the day, I was a little bit happy to see that this is where we’re at with superhero movies. I know that this side of the genre operates on a different level compared to whatever they have going on at Marvel and DC.

But, damn, is this hilarious. I never saw Morbius. Is that bad? As bad as this? Jesus. I hope this genre is on its way out. Because if this is the best they can come up with these days, why even bother? If I took away anything from this experience, it’s that New York City is a whole new level of crazy these days. And that’s what I have to say. Thanks for watching. Please go watch Madam Web.

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