Madame Web Parent Guide
This disappointing film offers a messy narrative, clunky dialogue, and painfully bad acting.
Parent Movie Review
Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson) thinks she’s going crazy. Ever since she briefly died while rescuing a man trapped in a car, she’s been having premonitions of the future. And not just flashes of insight, but full-blown visions of imminent events. When she foresees a man trying to kill three teenagers on a train, she grabs the girls and runs.
It turns out that the would-be killer is Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), who intentionally acquired superhuman abilities from a spider bite in the Peruvian Amazon. Along with speed, strength, and the ability to walk on walls, Ezekiel also has recurring dreams about his death. Every night, he sees the same three women murder him and he’s determined to find and kill them first. Ezekiel soon realizes that his future assailants are just teenagers without superpowers, but that doesn’t stop him from harnessing massive computing resources to identify and destroy Julia, Anya, and Mattie (played by Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O’Connor).
Still adjusting to her new foretelling abilities, Cassie must learn quickly. She’s also going to need to take a trip back to Peru to clear up the mysteries of her past and understand the range of her powers. If she masters her abilities, she might be able to save them all – but at a high price.
Madame Web ise one of the most unsatisfactory films I’ve ever seen – and that’s saying a lot. For once, the problem isn’t with the plot, which is a bit loony but could be finessed into a thought-provoking meditation on time, the future, and personal agency. Instead, this production offers a messy narrative, clunky dialogue, and some of the worst acting I’ve observed on the big screen. It feels like bad community theater and sounds like the actors are reading their lines for the first time.
None of the cast are good, but Tahar Rahim is notably bad. His voice is so flat and toneless that he sounds like an AI translation for a foreign language video clip. A superhero movie needs a terrifying villain and Ezekiel isn’t one. Violent and despicable he may be, but he doesn’t dominate the screen like Thanos did in previous Marvel movies (or Jafar in Aladdin. Just saying.) What Madame Web offers us instead is an unimpressive antagonist facing a confused protagonist with three useless sidekicks – and don’t even get me started on the ridiculous spider people jumping around the trees in the South American jungle.
As for negative content, Madame Web is what you would expect from a Marvel movie. Profanity is limited, alcohol makes a brief appearance, and there is no sexual content. There are, however, frequent, highly choreographed fight scenes, sometimes with fantastical weapons. Plenty of people die, but deaths are not gory. Most disturbingly, Ezekiel frequently grabs his victims by the neck and chokes them, which might be triggering to victims of gender-based violence.
I’ve never been a believer in premonitions, but I have one for Madame Web. Despite the sequel baiting at the end, I predict that the web snaps and the story arc ends here. I may be wrong, but I think the box office results for this dud will kill off potential sequels more effectively than spider toxin.Directed by S.J. Clarkson. Starring Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release February 14, 2024. Updated February 14, 2024
Watch the trailer for Madame Web
Rating & Content Info
Why is Madame Web rated PG-13? Madame Web is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence/action and language
Violence: There are frequent scenes of physical combat including choking, punching, and throwing, both in real time and in visions of future events. A person lethally shoots, stabs, and poisons people. A woman is shown dying as her veins turn black from poison. A main character steals a car. People manipulate energy to use as a weapon. A car falls over a bridge, trapping a person inside. An ambulance’s defibrillator is used as a weapon. A car accident happens on screen and a dead person is seen afterwards. There are brief glimpses of people with bloody injuries. A woman dies in childbirth.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: The script contains a dozen terms of deity, three scatological curses, three anatomical terms, and two minor profanities. There is a sexual hand gesture.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol in moderation at a social event.
Page last updated February 14, 2024
Madame Web Parents' Guide
Have you ever wanted to see the future? Why? What long term consequences do you think would result if you could see the future?
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For better spider-based superhero movies you can watch the Tom Holland series: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. The story gets a new twist in the brilliantly animated Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.