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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

ClickBates: Madame Web

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Henry Loomis

I won’t lie, I had no hope for the film when it released, but boy, did it exceed my expectations — on its hopelessly terrible quality. Unoriginal storytelling, weak dialogue, even weaker acting, uninspiring visuals and a lack of nuance converge to create this film imitation. After much consideration, “Madame Web” has earned an S&Critic score of 14%, leaving a permanent stain on the careers of everyone involved in its filming. 

The story follows Cassandra Webb, played by Dakota Johnson, as she pieces together strange time-bending visions. She ultimately saves the lives of three soon-to-be superheroines from an evil Spider-Man duplicate named Ezekiel, played by Tahar Rahim. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. The viewer is never truly allowed to understand the logic behind how any of the abilities work. The incessant use of the phrase “with great responsibility also comes great power” is a thoughtless bid to subvert the Spider-Man theme, which completely collapses because Webb has not assumed any significant responsibility by the end of the film beyond one scene, where she makes a sacrifice that causes her to become blind. 

Unoriginal storytelling, weak dialogue, even weaker acting, uninspiring visuals and a lack of nuance converge to create this film imitation.

— Sam Bates `24

Webb being born blind and having myasthenia gravis — a neuromuscular condition which made the character paralyzed and needing life support — is a quality essential to the character in the comics, yet is absent for nearly the entire hour and 45 minute run, making Webb’s movie persona non representative and simply lazy. The comic character is intriguing and nuanced because of her strength with her condition, and ignoring a characteristic that has been essential since her first appearance is a tactless, disappointing method of cherry picking.

The film attempts to incorporate traumatic backstories for nearly every character, yet doesn’t give the time to flesh out these internal conflicts, leaving the viewer never truly knowing what they are supposed to be sympathizing for or why. Ultimately, this leaves the characters feeling dull and the relationships between them forced — and the acting doesn’t help.

Despite being filled with expensive B-listers, the theatrics are atrocious. Frankly, the first five minutes set the pace — Kerry Bishé, Cassandra’s mother, and Rahim lead the viewers in monotonous monologues straight out of a high school play. Johnson and her co-leads were no different, delivering constant melodramatic and awkward speeches fit for a sixth-season CW show — no offense, CW. 

The movie does have some good moments. The occasional joke or imagery can be refreshing, but ultimately, I needed to force myself to even continue watching. No budget can save a film from a team that never cared in the first place.

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About the Contributors
Sam Bates, Copy Editor
Samuel Bates is a fourth-year English major hailing from St. Louis, MO. A former ice cream server, Sam prides himself on being able to form the "perfect scoop." When not working — or sleeping — Sam can be found digging into some new piece of fiction.
Henry Loomis, Graphic Designer
Henry Loomis is a second-year studio art major from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  He loves books, trees, the artist Ellen Gallagher, movies, but especially queer films involving the ocean, and grows more obsessed with Joanna Newsom every day (the songs seem long, but he promises they’re engaging).
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