Now Streaming | Madame Web | 2024

Giving a negative review of Madame Web feels akin to shooting fish in a barrel at this point. The film was a punchline before it was even released in theaters, and its disastrous press tour has been nearly memed to death, with its star, Dakota Johnson, clearly going through contractual motions to the point of embarrassment over the final product. 

Yet no matter how bad you imagine this movie is based on its abysmal buzz, it's somehow so much worse. Madame Web is so shockingly inept that it's hard to believe it's real. Every choice is seemingly the wrong one, from the stilted writing to the lazy ADR to Sydney Sweeney's terrible red wig.

Johnson's Cassandra Webb is a paramedic who inherited special spider powers after her mother was bitten by a spider in the Amazon before dying in childbirth. When she starts having premonitions that she doesn't understand, she ends up protecting three teenage girls who are destined to bring down Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), a superpowered businessman with a shadowy connection to Cassandra's mother.

There's a lot of convoluted plotting here, which the the screenplay lays out for us in often stilted, awkward fashion. It's almost painfully apparent, however, that no one's heart is particularly in this. Johnson's character is supposed to be sulky and unlikable, and honestly good for her for coasting through this dreck and collecting her paycheck, but the ennui from the cast and crew translates to boredom for the audience. One has to wonder who the intended audience for this was, because it seems tailor made to please exactly no one, and if that was the goal, it's the only thing the movie does right.

GRADE - zero stars (out of four)

MADAME WEB | Directed by S.J. Clarkson | Stars Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor, Tahar Rahim, Kerry Bishé, Adam Scott, Emma Roberts, Mike Epps | Rated PG-13 for violence/action and language | Now streaming on Netflix.


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