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Derrick Dunn

Madame Webb fails to swing high

The first superhero film of 2024, “Madame Webb,” directed by S.J. Clarkson, will swing into theaters courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Clarkson co-wrote the screenplay with Claire Parker, Matt Sazama, and Burk Sharples. Dakota Johnson top lines the film as the titular character, which depicts her origin story in a standalone universe.

Cassandra “Cassie” Webb (Johnson) works as a paramedic in Manhattan and possesses clairvoyant abilities. After an accident, she develops psychic powers that allow her to see events that will happen in the future within the “spider world.” Cassie needs to confront her past, including accepting the death of her mother and also protect Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor), and Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) from the evil Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), who has a connection to Cassie’s past. Sims is an explorer and a fellow clairvoyant who gained enhanced strength and health abilities by obtaining a powerful spider. He can also see the future and obsessively searches for the young woman Cassie is trying to protect, who can become Spider-Women.
The “Madame Webb” press release stated that the directors wanted a more grounded and gritty approach than many previously released superhero films. Regretfully, though, given the negative response to “Moribus,” the creatives behind “Madame Webb” would be a flop no matter what. The decision to appoint S.J. Clarkson as the director of “Madame Web” is the first red flag. Her resume lacks experience in the superhero genre and breathtaking action sequences, which has led to uncertainty about the movie’s destiny before the cameras even started rolling.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many questionable decisions that have accumulated like debris, dragging the film into disappointment. The story and dialogues lack depth, making it too predictable and killing any chance of suspense or intrigue. As a result, what could have been a great addition to Marvel’s cinematic universe ends up being a forgettable experience. As for the acting, the ladies have genuine chemistry, and it’s a shame that we don’t have a better film.

Dakota Johnson demonstrates an interpretation that only offered partial compensation for what seemed to be a deficient script and direction, reminiscent of a destination not fully reached. On the public record, Johnson initially committed to a different film concept, and some essential elements were misplaced during editing. Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, and Isabela Merced embody their teenage roles with organic finesse, which undeniably infuses life into the film. Aside from Adam Scott’s presence, other male roles follow formulaic performances; notably, underwhelming is an AI-dubbed antagonist character that leaves much to be desired. The question remains: does “Madam Webb” succeed as a compelling movie? The answer lies disappointingly in the negative.
If someone like Kathryn Bigelow had wielded her directorial prowess differently, this film could have seamlessly established itself within SSU’s roster more sophisticatedly. Nonetheless, its failure at the box office unfortunately overshadowed its potential.

Final Grade: C-
“Madame Webb” is in theaters now.

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Madame Webb fails to swing high