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“Madame Web” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

madame web 2024 (via Primetweets)

“Madame Web” is not the unmitigated disaster that its clunky trailer or its calendar spot in February would suggest.  

It’s a low-stakes superhero origin story with a thoroughly amusing Dakota Johnson performance at its center. But the feature debut from longtime television director S.J. Clarkson gets visually chaotic within its (literally) explosive conclusion, and much of the dialogue along the way consists of leaden exposition. Sometimes that can be used to comic effect, as Johnson’s Cassie Webb must repeatedly explain to people the bizarre things that are happening to her, her exasperation growing each time. But often the information dumps in the script credited to Clarkson & Claire Parker and “Morbius” writers Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless are unintentionally hilarious in their banality.  

Maybe that’s inevitable, though, when you’re introducing a new character to a wide audience. Still, within these oversaturated times for comic book movies, “Madame Web” is blissfully breezy in its pacing, which helps make it a more enjoyable watch than some of the super-serious, end-of-the-world fare we often see. 

A flashback to the Peruvian Amazon in 1973 reveals an extremely pregnant Constance (Kerry Bishé) searching for a rare breed of spider that’s known for its healing properties. Flash forward to 2003 and the child she was carrying, Cassie, is now a paramedic in New York City (Queens, specifically, which also happens to be the home of one Peter Parker). But during a bridge rescue with her fellow EMT, Ben (Adam Scott), she ends up tumbling into the river, triggering her version of a Spidey-sense. Now her mind is filled with confusing visions as she finds she can see the future — except no one believes her. (Her name is Cassandra, after all.) At one point, she literally has blood on her hands as she envisions someone’s death but doesn’t know how to prevent it. We’ve seen this reliving of events with multiple chances to get it right many times before, from “Groundhog Day” to “Final Destination” to “Happy Death Day,” but while the premise isn’t exactly novel, “Madame Web” finds some compelling avenues into it.   

The sequence in which Cassie fully begins to grasp her unwanted abilities — and realizes she must use them to save three teenage girls from being brutally attacked on a train waiting to leave Grand Central Terminal — is legitimately suspenseful. Wealthy and obsessed Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim, star of “A Prophet” and “The Past”) can also see the future and knows these three will end up killing him when they get older. (His explanation of this nightmare vision to a woman he’s just slept with drew some unintended laughs at a recent press screening.) 

The constantly on-the-go Cassie must become the reluctant protector of these disparate teens: shy Julia (Sydney Sweeney), bookish Anya (Isabela Merced) and rebellious Mattie (Celeste O’Connor). Johnson has such a way with a blasé, deadpan one-liner that it makes you wish the entire movie consisted of her dealing with these annoying kids, her impatience increasing with their impertinence. She brings a refreshing, grounded quality to her superhero vibe. Sweeney, Merced and O’Connor are mostly locked into one-note roles (and they’re all way too old to be high school students), but, together with Johnson, the four of them have a decent amount of chemistry. 

Clarkson, whose many TV credits include the Marvel series “Jessica Jones,” keeps things moving at an exciting clip with fluid camera movements and high-energy transitions. A car door will slam shut, leading to another door flying open elsewhere, that sort of thing. And the moments in which we see Cassie’s powers entering and illuminating her flow with a trippy, mysterious sense of wonder. 

It’s the big, noisy action sequences that bog “Madame Web” down. Yes, they’re crucial to the genre, but they’re also the least interesting part. And you don’t need to be clairvoyant to know that more movies in this series are in store. 

Madame Web movie poster

Madame Web (2024)

Rated PG-13

116 minutes

Cast

Dakota Johnsonas Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Webb / Madame Web

Sydney Sweeneyas Julia Cornwall

Isabela Mercedas Anya Corazon

Celeste O’Connoras Mattie Franklin

Tahar Rahimas Ezekiel Sims

Mike Epps

Emma Roberts

Adam Scott

Zosia Mamet

José María Yázpik

Kerry Bishéas Constance

Josh Drennenas Mr. Cornwall

Director

  • S.J. Clarkson

Screenplay

  • S.J. Clarkson
  • Matt Sazama
  • Burk Sharpless
  • Claire Parker

“Madame Web” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

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