Summary: Cassandra Webb is a New York metropolis paramedic who begins to demonstrate signs of clairvoyance. Forced to challenge revelations about her past, she needs to safeguard three young women from a deadly adversary who wants them destroyed.

Year: 2024

Cinema Release Dates:  14thFebruary 2024 (Australia), 14th February (Thailand), 14th February 2024 (UK), 14th February 2023 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: USA, Canada

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Screenwriter: S.J. Clarkson, Claire Parker, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless

Cast: Kerry Bishe (Constance), Jennifer Ellis (Chloe), Mike Epps (O’Neil), Kathy-Ann Hart (Susan), Dakota Johnson (Cassandra Webb), Zosia Mamet (Amaria), Isabela Merced (Anya Corazon), Celeste O’Connor (Mattie Franklin), Tahir Rahim (Ezekiel Sims), Emma Roberts (Mary Parker), Adam Scott (Ben Parker), Kris Sidberry (Ann), Erica Souza (Loma), Sydney Sweeney (Julia Cornwall), Jose Maria Yazpik (Santiago)

Running Time: 117 minutes

Classification: M (Australia), G (Thailand), 12-A (UK), PG13 (USA)


David Griffiths’s Madame Web Review

The idea of a film centring around the character of Madame Web is certainly a surprising move from Marvel. In the comics the character is an older woman, which obviously isn’t the case here, and after watching the film you quickly realise this film perhaps unintentionally changes the Spider-Man lore that has been set up in the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies.

Sure, Madame Web is an ambitious film because despite what some of the publicity around the film has stated this is pretty much the origin story of four characters, not one, but whether or not the film works or not is going to come down to whether or not you are a comic book lover or not.

If you are a casual cinema goer than perhaps Madame Web is not going to be action-packed enough to really impress you but if you are a hardcore fan of this section of the Marvel Universe then you are going to be pretty impressed at how the filmmakers here bring this beloved character to life on the big screen.

Directed by first time feature film director S.J. Clarkson Madame Web begins with Constance (Kerry Bishe – Argo) deep in the rainforests of Peru searching for a rare spider that has the ability to heal humans by giving them super-human strength. Shorty after finding the spider she is shot by of one of her companions, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim – A Prophet), who wants the spider’s power for his own greedy needs.

As she lays dying Constance is helped by a local tribe and she gives birth to a baby daughter before passing away. Before she passes though one of the tribesmen, named Santiago (Jose Maria Yazpik – Beverley Hills Chihuahua) promises to help her daughter should she ever return to Peru looking for answers.

The story then jumps to 2003 where her daughter, Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson – Fifty Shades Of Grey), is working as a paramedic alongside her good friend Ben Parker (Adam Scott – Parks And Recreation). She is great at her job but after an accident sees her nearly drown she suddenly finds herself having strange premonitions of the future – including seeing a work colleague die – which begins to affect her mentally.

These premonitions, and perhaps a little bit of fate, soon bring her face-to-face with three teenagers – Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney – Euphoria), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced – Dora And The Lost City Of Gold) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor – Ghostbusters: Afterlife) – whom she realises are being hunted down by Ezekiel.

Now you may have noticed the name Ben Parker there and that is where Madame Web becomes interesting for fans of the Spider-Man universe. If you are expecting Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield to show up as Spider-Man then you are in for a surprise – given that the film is set in 2003 they are a no show. However Spider-Man exists here…kind of.

Adam Scott’s Ben Parker is certainly Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben and it is safe to assume that the nameless woman he goes on the date with is the future Aunt May. Also we see in the film that his sister, Mary Parker (Emma Roberts – We’re The Millers), is pregnant with a baby that is easy to work out is in fact Peter.

The way that the team of screenwriters have incorporated the Peter Parker storyline into the film is pretty ingenious but it also leads to a big problem with the film as well – if the teenagers here end up becoming the first Spider-Women (as seen in Ezekiel’s premonition) why are outlets like the Daily Bugle so surprised when Spider-Man shows up later on – surely J. Jonah Jameson would have been all over it?

To be honest though a slip up in the universe like that is the least of Madame Web’s issues though. This film will divide audiences because of other reasons. On the one hand it has great characterisation allowing its four female leads to really explore their characters but on the other hand the fact that the director’s only previous experience comes from television is blatantly obvious when you are watching the film.

The film lacks those huge action set-pieces that made people fall in love with the early Marvel movies like The Avengers. The frustrating part is those dramatic and suspenseful moments are there in the screenplay but just aren’t brought to the screen in a way that will have audience members sitting on the edge of their seat. Instead the audience is left feeling like they are watching the latest Marvel TV series where the action sequences are toned down to save money.

Like said previously though the one thing that you can’t fault here is the characterisation and Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor really get a chance to run with their characters. If they do decide to franchise this part of the universe it will be exciting to watch those actresses flesh out their characters more.

Adam Scott is also a worthy addition playing the likable Uncle Ben but unfortunately Tahar Rahim is reduced to playing another forgettable Marvel villain who seems to share the same predictable desires as a character like The Green Goblin. It seems a waste because an evil version of Spider-Man could have been something pretty special.

As a standalone film Madame Web works. Dakota Johnson is strong in her role but with a lot of the action feeling like it was written for television don’t expect this to be a film that will be enjoyed by anyone that is not a hardcore comic book fan. What we can all look forward to though is when Sony decides to bring Kraven, Madame Web, Morbius, Venom and Spider-Man together for one hell of a film.

David’s rating Out Of 5

Alex First’s Madame Web Review

Imagine if you had the ability to see into the future and could change the outcome.

That is the contention at the centre of Marvel’s latest superhero movie, which the studio would like to turn into a franchise.

Brought up in foster homes, Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) is a paramedic.

All she knows is that her mother Constance (Kerry Bishé) died during childbirth, while investigating the special healing properties of a spider in the Amazon.

In fact, she was killed by her guide, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim).

He wasn’t interested in using those special properties for the greater good.

Rather, he had purely selfish desires, which were met when he stole the one spider Constance managed to find and bottle.

The spider venom gave him incredible strength and speed.

Nevertheless, he is plagued by a recurrent nightmare that three masked young women will track him down and kill him.

To that end, he vows to murder them before they get to him.

Their downfall becomes his obsession.

But what he doesn’t count on is Cassie Webb’s awakening to her origins and her linking up with the women in Ezekiel’s nightmare, all of whom are still teens.

I speak of Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor).

In comic book form, Madame Web is depicted as a blind old woman in a wheelchair.

In the film, Cassie is young, active and agile.

Madame Web was co-written and has been directed by S.J. Clarkson, who cut her teeth in TV and is making her feature film debut.

For all the inevitable comparisons, Spider-Man Madame Web isn’t.

I quite liked the intriguing origin story, but vast leaps of faith are necessary to buy the premise and some of the dialogue is clunky.

A narcissistic bad guy is pitted against a driven hero whose life is upended when she unexpectedly discovers she has premonitions.

Overlay that with teen angst and you have a pretty bizarre narrative.

I got the impression that Dakota Johnson wasn’t all that sold on the material either, but did what she was directed to do.

And the girls squabbling and making up seemed to be a waste of acting talent too.

Tahar Rahim’s villainous persona smacks of a one trick pony.

Adam Scott has a largely thankless role as Cassandra’s good natured paramedic partner and friend, Ben Parker.

Emma Roberts hardly has a significant part to play as Parker’s pregnant sister-in-law, Mary.

So, let me summarise by saying that Madame Web struggles throughout to maintain credibility.

Neverthless, while I mentioned that Madame Web is no Spider-Man, it is an origin story. Presuming the studio goes ahead with future instalments, the link to the latter will become more apparent as the story evolves.

Alex’s rating Out Of 5

Average Subculture rating Out Of 5

Other Madame Web Reviews

You can read our Madame Web review that appeared in The Phuket News right here – https://www.thephuketnews.com/madame-web-spins-new-tale-for-spider-man-91307.php