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“Madame Web” is in a sticky situation

(Photo courtesy of: Rolling Stone) “Dakota Johnson stars as Madame Web in Marvel’s newest comic-to-film adaptation.”

Savannah Baker
Connector Editor

Marvel Studio’s continues their disappointing film release streak with “Madame Web”, their recent collaborative project with Sony. The action, sci-fi film is the newest addition to Marvel’s Spider-Verse, but does not have any direct connections to any of the Spider-Man films.

“Madame Web” follows lead actress Dakota Johnson as Cassandra “Cassie” Webb, a New York City paramedic, who suddenly gains psychic abilities after a near death experience. With Cassie’s new power, she finds herself in the role of a protector as she keeps safe three young women—played by Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor—who are the target of the film’s antagonist, Tahar Rahim as Ezekiel Sims. The film acts as Cassie’s origin story who later is to be known as Madame Web.

While Johnson’s performance as Cassie is not of poor quality, it is not a memorable one either. Co-stars’ stars Sweeney, Merced, O’Connor and Rahim follow suit with mediocre performances. Although, these mediocre performances can be linked to all the characters’ flat and stereotypical personalities.

None of the film’s characters are compelling or complex. Their stories are cut short, and the audience is not given the full opportunity to connect with the characters on an emotional level. The filmmakers attempt to create Cassie as a deadpan character filled with dry-wit humor, but the humor fails to land and instead makes Cassie an unlikable protagonist.

This trend continues with character and relationship building throughout the film. While the characters’ relationships do change, they have sudden shifts in their dynamics between the plots conflict, climax and resolution that make their relationships dull. The audience does not actually get to see the relationship building.

The flaws of “Madame Web” do not end there, as the plot contains major holes. When the film tries to backtrack midway through the story to fill plot holes, it is rushed and executed poorly. This leaves audiences with more information and less context.

When it comes to the film’s sound, the audio is an apparent issue. As Rahim is in the frame and speaking, the audio initially seems out of sync with his dialogue. But as Rahim’s screen time increases, it is clear the filmmakers used automated dialogue replacement (ADR) to dub over the original dialogue. The ADR is not executed well and is quite a distraction for viewers as it is not hard to miss.

Sound continues to be a disruption as the film’s soundtrack does not match the tone or mood of the plot. Having an action-packed fight scene to “Toxic” by Britney Spears seems appealing in theory, but it did not work in practice for this film. The music and the visuals do not relate to one another, nor do they enhance the audience’s emotions.

One of the most problematic areas of the film lays within the disability representation. The film adds to the negative ideal that those with disabilities need to be “cured” or “fixed” while also using the “disability as a superpower” and “magically disabled” tropes. It is disappointing to see these portrayals from two huge companies with high ethos.

Overall Grade: D

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