FILM REVIEW — “Madame Web” spins a sloppy web

Published 12:02 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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“Madame Webb

Columbia Pictures

Directed by C.J. Clarkson

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Starring Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeny, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, Tahar Rahim and Adam Scott.

Rated PG-13

2 Stars

There’s a moment in the new comic book movie, “Madame Web,” when our hero says, “Stay here and don’t do anything stupid.”

As soon as I heard her utter this line, somewhere deep in the back of my mind I heard Morgan Freeman respond, saying, “And then, of course, they did something stupid.”

The people in the theater must have thought that I was crazy for laughing at this serious moment of the movie. They didn’t know that I was laughing because my subconscious was confirming what I’d already realized — that this movie is a series of nonsensical action and jarring storylines.

In short, “Madame Webb” is a confusing and lackluster mess of a movie.

Dakota Johnson stars as Cassie Webb, a New York City paramedic who starts having visions of future events after she survives a near-death experience.

Most notably, she has visions of a man (Tahar Rahim) who is obsessed with tracking down and killing three seemingly random teenagers (Sydney Sweeny, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor). You see, he’s been having dreams that these three teens will grow up to become Spider-Woman superheroes and eventually destroy him.

His plan is to kill the girls before they get superpowers, but Cassie uses her knowledge of the future to thwart the man, even though the three teens keep doing “stupid” things that put them in harm’s way.

That’s the basic plot of this movie. Our main characters do something, Cassie sees that it all turns out disastrously and so she directs them to do something different.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Roll end credits (without a cut scene).

I wish that I could say that the film offers some campy fun, but it’s staged as a simple origin story. I’m sure this was intended to be a launch pad for upcoming Spider-Women movies with Cassie playing an arachnid Splinter to a pack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Spiders, but I have a hard time believing this movie will be successful enough to merit further adventures.

What’s more, I get the sense that the cast knew they were working on a one-and-done movie as well. They appear to be sleepwalking through the movie, giving us flat performances instead of digging for something deeper.

In their defense, the script doesn’t offer much in the way of character motivations. It’s also filled with odd sequences that derail any story momentum, such as when Cassie abandons the girls to run off to Peru in order to commune with some ancient Amazonian Forest warriors.

Don’t worry, she returns just as the bad guy starts his next attack.

“Madame Web” ends up being one of those lazy comic book films that coasts buy on shiny spandex suits and a series of uninspired, but frequent action sequences.

I will admit that I like some of the film’s elements, but I am mostly left shaking my head at the thought this could have been the start of a cool, female-centered comic book franchise. But with “Madame Web” spinning such a mediocre movie, I wouldn’t hold your breath for a sequel.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia. Sean welcomes your comments via email at