Madame Web Movie Review

What’s it about?

After a near-death experience, New York paramedic Cassie Webb starts developing clairvoyant powers that work basically the same as that Nicolas Cage movie Next. She soon finds herself protecting three 25-year-old teenagers from a poorly-dubbed villain for poorly-defined reasons. Despite the deliberately ambiguous marketing, this is a Sony “we’ve got the rights to Spider-man’s villains” movie, not an MCU movie.

What did we think?

Anthony Sherratt thinks: There are some fun moments in Madame Web; some very good acting, a fun subtle background subplot, and some genuine tension. Editor’s Note: No, it doesn’t.

Unfortunately, it also has abysmal villain dialogue and some woeful exposition. Seriously, when your spider movie jumps straight to ‘this spider’s bite will grant superpowers’ in the first few minutes of the movie, you don’t understand show-don’t-tell. Or pacing.

The bad guy could have been fun but only acts and speaks in cliches. That’s when you can understand him anyway. It feels like he’s been dubbed as there’s constantly something wrong with both sound levels and words not always matching his lips.

Dakota Johnson does a great job as the troubled but likeable lead and has great chemistry with Adam Scott who plays Ben Parker. The cast does their part but the script is a bit loose and fast. Still, it’s mindless fun; it’s just a shame there’s a bit more emphasis on the mindless.


Peter Linning thinks: Producers of the Bob Marley biopic take note – If you’re going to make a bad movie, at least have the decency to make it so fucking bad that it’s entertaining. The entire movie feels like someone was given the audio and video for a movie, and then told to assemble it into a completely different movie. Madame Web is almost overwhelming in its shittiness and I genuinely cannot wait to see it again.

From the very first minute of the movie we’re barraged with expository dialogue, crappy CGI, and sound editing so bad that it’s actually bizarre – I’ve never identified more ADR in a movie, and I’m sure I didn’t catch it all. Almost all of the villain’s lines are blatantly dubbed, and probably a quarter of all the movie’s dialogue comes from a character who is off-screen or whose back is turned in an attempt to explain why the characters are doing whatever it is they’re doing. The movie’s attempts at dynamic editing are liable to give you a headache, and if that doesn’t do it then the overuse of Dutch angles and post-processing zooms might do the trick.

The supporting actors are doing what they can with a dud script, but Dakota Johnson is fucking atrocious in the lead role, alternating between a flat monotone and a completely insane off-kilter delivery that doesn’t seem to match the context of the scene at all. It’s not even that she’s phoning it in (which would still be unacceptable), it’s that her performance is so alien that it’s hard to believe that there were takes worse than the ones used in the film.

The movie looks bad, sounds worse, and has a terrible plot that only gets worse the longer you think about it. There are so many unique elements in the movie that don’t make any sense, that trying to break them down would essentially just be a retelling of the events of the movie.

I’m not a huge believer in “so bad they’re good” movies, but Madame Web is so bad it’s fascinating. Get some friends together and watch it as soon as you can see it without paying money.


A crime against cinema and humanity.
Anthony has been reviewing movies for over 25 years (it may be longer now as he may have forgotten to add an extra year on). He lectures in journalism at the prestigious Queensland University of Technology and in addition to freelance writing, works with the charity Hands Across The Water. In a busy life, insomnia is his friend.
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