Madame Web Blu-ray Review

3 Stars Recommended only for superhero completists, and maybe not even for all of them.
Madame Web Review

After a 44 year wait, the character that premiered in The Amazing Spider-Man no. 210 finally has a film adaptation in Madame Web.

Madame Web (2024)
Released: 14 Feb 2024
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 116 min
Director: S.J. Clarkson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced
Writer(s): Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Claire Parker
Plot: Cassandra Webb is a New York metropolis paramedic who begins to demonstrate signs of clairvoyance. Forced to challenge revelations about her past, she needs to safeguard three young women from a deadly adversary who wants them des...
IMDB rating: 3.8
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Amaray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 04/30/2024
MSRP: $38.99

The Production: 3/5

Audience demand for more Spider-Man movies without Spider-Man actually making an appearance has been met with again with Madame Web(2024), the most recent film in the expanded Spider-Man film universe.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this film is only sort of the train wreck of its reputation.  It has its share of gaping plot holes, but it is entertaining in its own way in the same way that a Michael Bay Transformers film can be stimulating, if you take out all of the giant robots and suspend your disbelief while the characters flee from one peril to another.
Madame Web Screenshot
Madame Web stars Dakota Johnson(Fifty Shades of Grey) as the incidental character from Spider-Man comics given her own film.  Most fans of Marvel Comics know that Madame Web made her first appearance the November 1980 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man no. 210.  Madame Web is essentially the origin story for the title character, a clairvoyant who is blind and aged by the time she meets Spider-Man in the comics.  In this film, Johnson plays Cassandra Webb as a woman in her 30s coming to terms with the powers given her after her mother gave birth to her in the Amazon jungle thanks to the help of a tribe of spider people.  From the preceding description, you will know if this is your kind of film or not.
As Madame Web develops her powers in the Spider-Man universe circa 2003, she avenges the murder of her mother in confronting Ezekiel Sims(Tahar Rahim), and becomes the protector of three orphans who will become avenging spiders in their own right:  Julia Cornwall(Sydney Sweeney), Mattie Franklin(Celeste O’Connor), and Anya Corazon(Isabela Merced).  This group of 4 are destined to be together to become avenging spiders, even as the film teases an ending that never actually arrives.  The cast is rounded out by Emma Roberts, Zosiah Mamet, and Mike Epps.  Adam Scott also appears as a pivotal character better known to fans of The Amazing Spider-Man.
Madame Web Screenshot
On the plus side, S.J. Clarkson(Jessica Jones) provides active and energetic flow to the storytelling with the assistance of cinematographer Maura Fiore(Spiderman: No Way Home).  Together, they provide the film with a vertiginous energy that is well suited to the story being told, such as it is.  The film is best enjoyed if you sit back and do not think too much about the plot.  (Is it possible that people born after 1990 do not know what newspapers are, or the frequency of their publication in 2003?  We live know in an era of instant delivery of news via the internet, but seriously, how often is the Daily Bugle published in the universe of Madame Web?  This is just one plot hole to mull over.)  Overall, Madame Web is a slickly produced film with a mediocre story.  Madame Web also has some very blatant product placement from a major soft drink company, but I do not want to give out any spoilers to ruin the film for anyone.
Madame Web Screenshot
I remember the excitement of possibilities discussed following the publicity of future Spider-Man spinoff films.  The Web-head has a great rogues gallery of villains and supporting characters, so many fans were excited by the possibility of The Sinister Six or Kraven the Hunter hitting the big screen.  Venom was an obvious choice, but who ever expected such deep cuts from the mythology as Morbius and Madame Web?  Is there really much of a film audience for these characters, even among comic book fans?  Anyone might have expected that these spinoffs might feature Spider-Man in a cameo role at minimum.  The concept of the studios producing Spider-Man films without Spider-Man just seems like a deliberate dilution of the brand, but what do I know?  This is just my two cents.  I know that I am more of a fan of Spider-Man than the average movie viewer, and I barely wanted to see this film.  That being said, Madame Web has some entertainment value and is well produced for all of its flaws.  It plays with your expectations to create just enough surprises to keep it interesting.
Madame Web Screenshot

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Madame Web Screenshot

Madame Web appears on blu-ray disc in 1080p  via the AVC codec in its original 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio.  Fine detail is great, with solid blacks without any black crush and good shadow detail.  Colors are vibrant and video presentation is consistent throughout.

Madame Web Screenshot

Audio: 4.5/5

Madame Web Screenshot

Madame Web plays in English audio in DTS-HDMA 5.1.  Dialogue is always audible over sound effect and music, with some nicely placed directional audio on the soundstage.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Madame Web Screenshot
Special features include all of the following:
Future Vision(6:51):  Director S.J. Clarkson discusses production of Madame Web.
Casting the Web(9:09):  Principal cast members including Dakota Johnson discuss the casting process for Madame Web.
Oracle of the Page(4:54):  Producers discuss adapting the comic book version of Madame Web to the silver screen.
Gag reel(4:31):  Flubs and gaffs by the cast during production of Madame Web.
Fight Like A Spider(5:31):  The cast talk about training and fight choreography for Madame Web.
Easter Eggs: The Many Threads of Madame Web(3:55):  Director S.J. Clarkson shows off some of the obscure references in Madame Web.
Okay, so who does the research for these things?  The director, co-writer, and executive producer Clarkson points out that the reference in the film to the “Romita” corporation is an homage to acclaimed Spider-Man artist John Romita, Jr.(!).  Really?  I mean, she is not wrong, exactly, but brownie points and bragging rights go to the first reader to point out in this thread what the glaring problem is with this observation.  She also mentions that Madame Web first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #210, with a cover date of November, which she states was published on November 1, 1980(!).  Oh, boy.  Seriously, who writes this crap?  A comic book in 1980 with a cover date of November would have been available on the rack at 7-Eleven no later than September of that year.  By November 1 of 1980, the issue with a January cover date would have already been on the comic rack.  If you do not believe me, ask your grandpa.  Dumb stuff like this makes me feel old;  just for that, I deduct half a star from my rating of the special features.  May I humbly offer my services as consultant for the next film?  I will say that Clarkson is a talented director, but a Spider-Man expert she is not, nor is the research writer of this featurette seemingly cribbed from an incomplete wikipedia article.
Deleted Scene “You Died”(0:41):  Dakota Johnson and Adam Scott in a brief scene snipped from the final cut.
The following trailers appear by default at the beginning of the Blu-ray disc:  Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse(2:38), Gran Turismo(2:33), and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire(2:33).
Also included is a paper insert with validation code for digital copy of the film via the Movies Anywhere app.  The blu-ray edition reviewed did not have a slipcover.

Overall: 3/5

Madame Web Screenshot

Madame Web is an unlikely spinoff from Spider-Man with many action set pieces connected together by a pedestrian story.  Madame Web is a decent popcorn flick but may not be a great candidate for repeat viewings.  There is really nothing bad to say about the video and audio presentation on blu-ray disc.  The special features are interesting, even if the “Easter Eggs” featurette is poorly researched, as set forth in greater detail in the special features section of this review.

Remember when I said that this film might not stand up well for repeated viewings?  One thing I did not mention is (Spoiler alert!) the characters played by Dakota Johnson and Adam Scott are paramedics.  The paramedics in this film perform more cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)within an hour and 56 minutes than many paramedics perform in a year.  A good drinking game can be made with audience members taking a shot every time someone performs CPR in Madame Web.  This may or may not enhance your enjoyment of the film.  You could even base the drinking game on taking a drink of the soft drink promoted repeatedly in Madame Web, every time someone performs CPR or the soft drink logo is displayed on screen.  Enjoy!

Timothy has worked background in theatrical features and television, just for the fun of it, in films directed by Peter Segal and Christopher Nolan. His favorite film star is Bugs Bunny, and Timothy has discovered that most of the problems in life can be solved successfully (strangely enough) by asking “What would Bugs Bunny do?” Timothy has been involved with the Home Theater Forum since 2007 and has reported from Comic Con, interviewed Bruce Campbell and Danny Trejo, and reviewed classic animation and new theatrical releases on disc.

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Chip_HT

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 28, 2004
Messages
1,104
Real Name
Chip
The director, co-writer, and executive producer Clarkson points out that the reference in the film to the “Romita” corporation is an homage to acclaimed Spider-Man artist John Romita, Jr.(!). Really? I mean, she is not wrong, exactly, but brownie points and bragging rights go to the first reader to point out in this thread what the glaring problem is with this observation.

Are you trying to say the homage should have referred to John Romita, Sr.?

I mean, I understand that the elder Romita is more of a legend in the comic field, but JRjr actually worked on more comics that directly influenced this movie - including the aforementioned ASM #210, as well as the early 2000s run that introduced the Ezekiel character.
 

Wayne Klein

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
529
Well…not as bad as O thought it would be but still not a good film. On par with “Morbius”. Maybe they should stop trying to build a Spider-Man universe. That hasn’t really worked out for them though “Venom” was pretty good.
 
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