Review: Madame Web Feels Like It Was Written by AI

Review: Madame Web Feels Like It Was Written by AI

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Spoilers below – you’ve been warned! Did you guys ever see that meme circulating the internet where someone asked a bot to write a commercial for the Olive Garden? If not, you can check that out here. Anyway, that’s what Madame Web felt like to me. They assembled this cool little cast, drew from some cool source material with cool characters…hell, I think they even had a nifty little plot that had some real potential. Then, they typed it all into an AI and told it to write ’em a script with words that sounded human. They added, “oh by the way, we need it to have some elements of action, horror, science fiction, and mystery, but whatever you do, make sure you drop in some cheesy zingers that no one will laugh at during the most awkward possible moments.” I guess that makes sense since the buzz surrounding this movement was generated off of meme culture – he was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders just before she died, after all.

Expectations were so low after 2022’s Morbius and the campaign for Madame Web made the film look as off-putting and shallow as humanly possible. I’d say it’s better than Morbius. That movie had a myriad of problems it couldn’t overcome with any redeeming qualities. Madame Web had its fair share of issues, but the script was so incredibly bad that I don’t know how any actor was supposed to work with it. Dakota Johnson was like Will Levis and this script was like the 2023 Tennessee Titans offensive line. It was written in a way that felt like someone at Sony told them, “okay, you can only go 60 seconds without making some try-hard quip so we can hit our comedy quota.” It was that bad…almost as if…y’know…something that wasn’t human was writing in a way that pretended to be human. It hamstrung the entire experience. Every time I felt like we were settling into a nice little groove, some dumb bit of dialogue floated into the ether, stalling whatever momentum had been built up.

I could sit here and nitpick unrealistic aspects of this movie all day. To be fair, you can probably do that for a lot of stories. But, in this tale, the dumb shit magnified the film’s other problems. I mean, why couldn’t they just play the DNA angle? These spiders have DNA that strengthens their cells…if we figure out why, we might solve cancer! It’s that easy. Instead, it’s the venom that makes you stronger. The venom…which…I’ll have to check my biology notes…is usually designed to kill prey actually makes them stronger? Seems like counter-evolution. Plus, after the subway incident, the media is clearly painting Cassie as the kidnapping culprit. We can assume Ben doesn’t know what we know. He’s hearing that Cassie kidnapped these girls, and yet, he just shows up at the hotel to help out! He even drops in a line like “you don’t deserve this” to Cassie! In the climactic fight scene, they blow up an entire brick wall with was essentially a roman candle. Our main villain, whose accent I still can’t discern, was so vigilant that he could find these girls if their faces so much as flashed at a camera, yet he lost the group when they went to a hotel that seemed to be nearby. They even parked their hijacked cab out front! The whole trip to Peru was weird and rushed. They teased tension between Ezekiel and his hacker that they never paid off. The CGI was flimsy.

The bottom line effect here is a movie that is just plain sloppy. After seeing the finished product, all of the reports of its turbulent production make a lot of sense. This thing was rushed. They reset the movie from the 1990s to the early 2000s after it had already been filmed. It has the stench of carelessness for the craft and very much feels like a cash grab at any rub the Spider-Man character can give it. Still, for as much as I hated, there were a couple of things that I felt gave it a little juice. And, it’s frustrating to see interesting elements in a film that just can’t get out of its own way.

I like a good little cat-and-mouse dynamic. I liked some of the chase scenes. The clairvoyance stuff felt like a neat approach to the superhero movie, playing through multiple scenarios at any given moment. It felt like a more grounded story, set up well for good character development even though that never really happened. Conceptually, I like the old story of a hero getting back to their roots to discover who they really are. There was an interesting plot in there somewhere, and on a basic moviegoing experience level, it moves surprisingly fast and at an hour and 54 minutes. I didn’t feel like it overstayed its welcome. Most of all, I liked Johnson. She brought an air of “I don’t even want to be here” to the role that felt like the chunk of the movie we were supposed to relate to and find ourselves in. At least, that was the case for me. Again, I don’t know who could’ve worked with this awful script, but Johnson didn’t feel out of her depths as the lead in a comic book movie to me. She did everything short of look directly into the camera and give us a wink and a nod. I was laughing with Dakota Johnson…not at her, and that’s a big distinction for a movie in which you’re trying to find any possible nugget to hold on to.

Because of those things, I’m going to take it easy on this film a little bit. It might’ve even worked had it been released 30 years ago. There’s certainly a timeline where this thing becomes a cult classic in 1996. But, there was enough there for me to find at least a handful of moments to latch onto regardless. Perhaps my expectations were so low that finding any beacon of light in the darkness feels like a surprise. At its best, Madame Web plays like 2004’s Daredevil. At its worst, it had me pointing and laughing, asking “who the fuck greenlit this?” It is somehow both an abysmal 2/5 and a surprising 2/5 for me.

The real question in the aftermath of its release is just what the hell Sony thinks they’re doing. This is dud after dud after dud now. I have no idea what they have going right now that would instill any sort of confidence, and I’m real nervous about that Kraven movie that’s coming out. If you keep putting out bad movies, eventually, people will stop seeing them (as evidenced by Madame Web‘s performance at the box office). Whatever charm they put together for Venom has been long forgotten.

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Listen to “Ep. 143: Madame Web (Spoilers)” on Spreaker.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.

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