23 February 2024

Madam Web is among the worst superhero movies ever made

| Jarryd Rowley
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Madam Web is a Sony's newest film in their Spiderman film universe. Photo: Sonu.

Madam Web is an insult to fans of Spider-Man. Photo: Sony.

Watching Madam Web, Sony’s latest attempt at a Spider-Man film that doesn’t actually feature the famous wall-crawler, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away.

Despite the bar already being super low, nothing could have prepared me for the absolute dumpster fire that followed.

Sony has made three of these ‘Spiderverse’ movies previously, (Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius) and while none of them have been any good, they’ve each built their own solid fanbase.

This will not be the case for Madam Web.

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Madam Web follows Cassie Webb, a paramedic who starts seeing visions of the future and, by doing so, witnesses three teenage girls die at the hands of an evil tech mogul.

On paper, this sounds interesting enough. It’s not anything that is super groundbreaking but the idea could have been fun. Instead, what the audience got was two hours of the most cringe-inducing dialogue I’ve ever heard, the stalest acting I’ve ever seen, the choppiest editing I’ve ever witnessed and one of the most devoid of substance scripts ever put to screen.

It is honestly horrendous and, as a result, it becomes a hard movie to review.

I’ll try and start with the dialogue and scriptwriting.

Because the movie is so whacky in premise, it needs a lot of exposition to carry the audience along with what’s going on. The problem here is the characters say things out of the blue with little to no reference to anything else on the screen.

An example of this is in the very first scene of the movie. Set in the 1970s, Cassie’s mother is in Peru looking for a special spider. Her assistant/bodyguard comes up to her and says something along the lines of: “We need to find the spider, I grew up poor and this will make me rich”.

This is awful writing for a couple of reasons. Reason one, the movie made it clear this guy has worked with Cassie’s mother for years. She knows his motivations, why would he just say something like this out loud and unprovoked? Secondly, it doesn’t explain where he grew up and how hard it was for him while also not explaining why the spider is special or how it will help him overcome anything.

This is the case throughout the entire film.

Great film-makers and directors can show and not tell when it comes to delivering information. In Madam Web‘s case, it’s clear that either the director or the studio didn’t believe the audience would be smart enough to understand what they’d be watching or, even worse, the studio was just lazy. For a movie in the superhero genre, which has literally billions of fans, this is downright insulting.

Madam Web has been one of the most poorly review movies ever

Madam Web has been crucified by critics and is one of the lowest-scoring films ever on IMDB. Photo: Screenshot

My second biggest issue is the editing.

The villain in this movie is among the worst ever and partly because of his constant monologues. The reason this wraps around to editing is because none of the words he speaks match his mouth movements.

In some films with loud locations they use something called ADR (automated dialogue replacement), this means the dialogue is recorded later but imposed on the scene they’ve already filmed. Normally this is done for narration or voiceovers or a scene where the character who’s talking isn’t in shot.

For Madam Web, they use ADR for every line of dialogue that the villain says, and it looks awful.

Mix the ADR in with strange zooms, similar to that of a Japanese anime, weird choices of when to cut to a new scene and cinematography that makes you feel sick, and you get a recipe for disaster.

The final thing I’ll touch on is the acting.

In this film, it’s less acting and more just reading the script out loud. The worst offenders are the lead actors Dakota Johnson and Tahar Rahim. Ms Johnson has the emotional range of a pickle in this film. It makes it impossible to care for her character.

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The other is the villain played by Tahar Rahmin. Honestly, this shouldn’t go as an acting credit because all of his dialogue is post recorded and the rest is his stunt double in a mask.

The three girls Cassie is tasked with defending, played by Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor, are also very unlikeable. They’re so whiny and frustrating.

Madam Web is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I strongly recommend that you hold on to your $20 and wait to see something else because this is a complete waste of time and an insult to any Spider-Man fan.

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