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Laramie Movie Scope: Madame Web

Weak superhero origin story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 21, 2024 – First of all, this should have been called Spider Woman, but then again, there are at least five other movies with Spider Woman in the title, so maybe that's the reason this one got a different name. Secondly, the main character doesn't have the usual spidy powers, no web-slinging, no super strength, super quickness, fast healing, or wall climbing abilities. She's just kinda normal, except for the precognition.

The main character, with the loaded name of Cassandra Webb (played by Dakota Johnson of the “50 Shades” franchise) is an emergency medical technician, which is already heroic. After nearly drowning during a rescue, she suddenly begins to see future events. This is another departure from the usual Marvel superhero norm, in which super powers manifest at puberty. Webb is over 30 when her power of precognition shows itself.

Once Webb can see the future, she immediately starts to have visions of awful things, like the death of her boss in an accident. It is always something dramatic like that. One day, she is riding a train when she has a vision of a spider-man kind of character appearing on her train and murdering three young women sitting nearby.

Using her power of precognition, she takes actions to save the lives of the three women, Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney of “Anyone But You”) Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced of “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O'Connor of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”). The four women become bonded when Webb saves their lives twice from the evil spider-man, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim of “The Mauritanian”).

Not only does Sims have superpowers, but he also has the wealth and power to steal an advanced facial recognition system to track down Julia, Anya and Mattie. Repeated nightmares convince him that the three women will kill him in the future. He plans to kill them before they get their powers. There is, however, no hint of any spider powers in any of these three young women, or any clear path they have to attain such powers.

Webb's powers, and those of her adversary, are linked through a rare spider found in the Amazon basin. Webb travels to the Amazon, where her mother had gone to do research on these spiders, and there finds the legendary guardians of the spiders, who inform her how the spiders are linked to both her past, her mother, and to Ezekiel.

There are way too many coincidences in this story, and too many holes in the plot. There is more bonding of the members of this female squad than there is action, perhaps a byproduct of the women who wrote (Claire Parker) and directed (S.J. Clarkson) this movie. The other screenwriters, besides Parker and Clarkson, who wrote the script, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, were writers of another poorly-received Marvel origin movie, “Morbius.”

Still, it's not a bad movie for all that, just a mediocre one that is bound to raise the ire of the kinds of misogynistic fan boys who power the box office success of the more successful male-dominated superhero movies. One of the few exceptions is the success of “Wonder Woman,” although the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984” was more feminine, and far less commercially successful. Another popular theory is that there is a kind of superhero audience burnout, as well as after-effects of the Covid Pandemic.

I think it all comes back to the writing. If a movie has a well-written script, it is already more than half way to being a good movie. Marvel Studios movies are no longer well scripted. There has been a noticeable script quality decline in recent years. As I mentioned before, this script isn't bad, it held my attention throughout, it just isn't as compelling, lacking the kind of action, humor and drama of the best Marvel movies. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2024 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]