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The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

Madame Web: Rotten Review

Madame Web: Rotten Review

As someone who is very involved in recent film news, I’ve been well aware of the reputation S.J. Clarkson’s “Madame Web” has been getting. The film, which is a partnership with Marvel Studios and Sony, got a lot of press in the summer of 2023 when Sydney Sweeney, Dakota Johnson, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor were cast as the main four leads. Even with a stacked cast, as it premiered, audiences and critics alike thought the film was horrible in more ways than one. Overall, three major things made Madame Web ridiculously bad — dialogue, story and an array of technical issues. 

Dialogue, the heart of a good movie, was Madame Web’s biggest failure. From the film’s first scene to the climax, the dialogue felt forced and for a lack of a better word, cringe. The four main leads’ attempts at “teenage humor” made me want to stop watching the movie and leave the theater. Even though the delivery of the dialogue was the main problem, the writing set the four leads up for failure. Most of it felt unnatural, and the way certain everyday interactions were written dispersed me from the experience. For example, Johnson’s character, Cassandra Webb, dies for three minutes, gets brought back to life and the dialogue afterward feels as dead and lifeless as she had been three minutes earlier. Although we’re supposed to believe that the four main characters are supposed to be in a “found family” situation, their interactions proved otherwise not only due to, of course, their dialogue, but also due to the film’s story arch. 

It was impossible to care about any of the characters in the film. The three girls rescued by Cassandra, Julia, Anya and Mattie were one-dimensional. Even though the entire film’s story is about them, I could not care less whether they died or not. There was no time given for the audience to connect with them, so at the end, when all three of them almost die at the same time, it’s impossible to really feel scared and then relieved when they eventually survive. 

There is no reason to like Cassandra besides her job as an EMT. For those who haven’t read her comics and have only seen this film, she comes off as a hero who is not willing to be one in the first place. She flip-flops between caring deeply for the girls, but later leaving them in the middle of the woods to fend for themselves. Though her last scene highlights how much of a family they are, she had never once displayed that before. There was no lesson learned and no arch between the four main characters, so why should an audience care?

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 Besides Ben Parker, played by Adam Scott, there is not a character to like. Even though he doesn’t get enough screen time, Ben Parker, later known as Uncle Ben, is the highlight of every scene he’s in. He manages to make the writing somewhat good and natural, and even though I knew that he wouldn’t die until his future nephew became Spider-Man, I truly cared about what happened to him. 

I also think that the movie spent so long trying to build relationships with no avail, that when the end fight eventually came, it felt extremely rushed and forgotten about. It was almost as if the writers forgot that the movie needed an ending. The big reveal of Cassandra’s powers was confusing and laughable, and the villain’s eventual demise wasn’t because he got outsmarted by the heroes. He accidentally tripped, fell and a piece of metal landed on top of him. It was the first time I thought that a movie was too long and too short at the same time. 

Madame Web was an awful almost two-hour watch, and it could have been saved with more scenes on developing each character and the characters together as a group. Though the film’s story and dialogue were something visibly bad to all who watched it, some subtle technical things took me out of the immersion of watching the film. Weird zoom-ins that attempted to highlight the uneasiness of some scenes and the fact that actors, mostly the film’s villain, visibly mumbled their lines for them to later be voiced over in post-production made me lose my mind in the theater. It happened so many times that I debated on keeping count and it somewhat felt intentional.  If it wasn’t, it is still incredibly unbelievable — did they not have a sound crew? 

Some other things that bothered me were the constant reminders that the film took place in 2003, like a billboard of Beyonce’s “Dangerously In Love” and a radio station in the background of a scene talking about Britney Spears’ new hit single “Baby One More Time.” I’m not sure why they kept reminding the audience of when the story took place considering that a title card saying “New York – 2003” shows up five minutes into the movie, but it was at times distracting and I was often looking into the background for more weird references. The fight scenes lacked any real action and besides Dakota Johnson’s ambulance wheelies, there wasn’t much fighting happening in this superhero action film. Marvel is known for their crazy fight scenes, and when you compare something like “Shang Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” it feels like a step back when it comes to original and interesting superhero movies. Sadly, Madame Web is exactly what critics and audiences have been saying: ridiculously awful.

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About the Contributor
Clara Resende, Staff Writer
Clara Resende is a senior and staff writer of “The North Star.” This is their first year on staff. They have covered student life and entertainment news. Outside of the newsroom, they enjoy watching movies and writing about them. They are excited to become a more experienced writer and get to know everyone!

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