starring Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor
screenplay by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless and Claire Parker & S.J. Clarkson
directed by S.J. Clarkson
by Walter Chaw S.J. Clarkson's Madame Web is a rare and specific variety of disaster, which is interesting because it's largely centred around a rare and specific variety of spider. That is to say, not "interesting" so much as unintentionally ironic or something. Rain on your wedding day, 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, you know? The mass-appealing, notes-driven, "for dummies," not-entirely-accurate pop-cultural definition of a literary conceit. This reminds me of the swoony, heartthrob moment where Ethan Hawke defines "irony" perfectly in Reality Bites. I don't actually remember what he says, though, because I haven't seen that movie since its 1994 release--about ten years before the events of Madame Web, the screen debut of Marvel mutant Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson), who's named after the Greek archetype who can see the future but no one listens to her and Marc Webb, director of the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies. Just kidding. She's named Webb because spiders spin them, with an extra "b" to throw you off the trail but not so violently that you don't know it's fucking with you. Madame Web (one "b," because the picture is more invested in making sure you know it's related to the lucrative Spider-Man franchise than in being such a tedious asshole) opens in 1973, with Cassandra's super-pregnant mom Constance (Kerry Bishé) tromping around the South American rainforest like Sean Connery in Medicine Man in search of a super-spider when...okay, that's enough of that. Anyway, 30 years later, Cassandra is a paramedic who can sometimes see the future, but nobody believes her. You might have deduced that by her name is all I'm saying.