The Hindu (Mumbai)

‘Madame Web’: Dakota Johnson springs no big surprises in this origin story

While not an overstimul­ated marathon peopled with angstridde­n growly metahumans, this Dakota Johnsonled superhero movie is an easy watch and just as effortless­ly forgettabl­e

- Mini Anthikad Chhibber

The fourth film in the SSU (Sony’s SpiderMan Universe), following the Venom films and Morbius (ugh), Madame Web is vaguely amusing. This is not a film that would drive you to bite your arm in frustratio­n nor will it have you staring at the screen in shock and awe. At a relatively short running time of under two hours, Madame Web tells the origin story of Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson).

Differing from the comic, Madame Web shows Cassie as a young woman in her 30s discoverin­g her psychic abilities and not an elderly woman on life support. The movie starts in the ‘70s in the Peruvian Amazon with scientist Constance (Kerry Bishé) very pregnant with Cassie, looking for a rare spider with miraculous healing powers. She finds the spider, and betrayal in the form of explorer Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim).

Cut to 33 years ahead and Cassie is working as a paramedic in New York with Ben Parker (Adam Scott). After a couple of instances of Cassie’s social awkwardnes­s including one at a baby shower for Ben’s sisterinla­w, Mary (Emma Roberts), she meets with an accident and everything changes dramatical­ly for her.

Suddenly burdened with psychic powers where she can somewhat see the future, Cassie wonders if she is losing her mind. Elsewhere, Ezekiel is living in his digital cocoon and seems to spend his illgotten superpower­s obsessing over his death. He sees three young women, Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Anya (Isabela Merced) and Mattie (Celeste O’Connor), as the cause of his downfall. He bullies his tech support team of one, Amaria (Zosia Mamet), to track the teenagers down.

Cassie with her déjà vu, presque vu and jamais vu, realises the girls are in trouble and reluctantl­y takes them under her wing. The rest of the movie sees the fab four fleeing Ezekiel and Cassie making a quick trip to Peru (no jet lag or neverendin­g immigratio­n lines for superheroe­s) to meet Santiago ( José María Yazpik) from the secret spider tribe in Peru, Las Arañas, to learn about her past, heritage and sundry things.

Madame Web has some serviceabl­e action sequences, the women are all competent and it is nice to see Severance’s Scott as a younger Uncle Ben. Rahim wades into his wickedness with gusto. Including the birth of Peter Parker in the movie can be looked at as cute or cringey mythmaking depending on your frame of mind. Madame Web is not an over stimulated threehour marathon peopled with angstridde­n growly metahumans and it does not have a mid or endcredit sequence.

That is about all one can say for this film that one would most probably forget by the time one reaches the parking lot or the bus stop.

Madame Web is currently running in theatres

 ?? SPECIAL ARRANGEMEN­T ?? Dakota Johnson in ‘Madame Web’
SPECIAL ARRANGEMEN­T Dakota Johnson in ‘Madame Web’

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