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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Web of Lies: Sony’s Latest Superhero Blunder

A Hollywood production or an iMovie creation?
Photo Courtesy / YouTube Sony Pictures Entertainment

“Madame Web,” released Feb. 14, is the latest installment in the Spider-Verse series and the most unsuccessful. Featuring subpar acting and elementary level dialogue, the newest Sony film proved to be an extreme disappointment.

One of the most notable failures of this film was the sound dubbing of actor Tahar Rahim, who played villain Ezekiel Sims. From the first instance of Rahim speaking, there was clearly something off with the timing of the conversations — it looked as if the original dialogue was in a foreign language with an English voiceover. 

This was due to the use of ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement, to ineffectively cover up issues with the original sound in filming. On several occasions, it appeared as if Rahim was delivering lines out of thin air and his voice sounded extremely far away. Laughable and lazy, the use of ADR in this film was a careless replacement for reshooting scenes.

Almost as bad as the sound, the cinematography rivaled that of a CapCut edit. With unnecessary zoom-ins and back and forth shots, the film felt like a choppy merge of iPhone filmed clips. 

The special effects were jarring and unimpressive compared to previous superhero films. In demonstrating Madame Web’s powers, producers could have given viewers whiplash trying to understand and follow the direction of these effects. Overwhelming and chaotic, there should have been a warning for the flashing lights and unstable camera work with her transformation scenes. 

Though every superhero movie is not based on reality, “Madame Web” requires an extreme suspension of disbelief from the audience, to the point where the supernatural elements were not the only hard to believe events. Dakota Johnson embarks on a solo adventure towards the end of the film, and it is this use of deus ex machina that sloppily ties the film up with a loose knot. Too easy and horribly predictable, there is no real conflict that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

As Madame Web, Johnson also develops powers that are ill-represented and difficult to follow as the film continues. She displays no clear “revelation” of her capabilities aside from a rushed side quest in Peru. Even the dialogue being spoken by Johnson about her character’s “growth” is half-hearted and extremely cliched.

There are many internet theories about Johnson being so embarrassed by the outcome of her film that she took the lengths to fire her entire talent agency. Though these are just rumors, it has certainly been inferred on the press tour that the “Madame Web” heroine is not happy, or even knowledgeable, about her role in the film.

In an interview during her press tour, Johnson stated:

“I’ve never really done a movie where you are on a blue screen, and there’s fake explosions going off, and someone’s going, ‘Explosion!’ and you act like there’s an explosion. That to me was absolutely psychotic. I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to be good at all! I hope that I did an okay job!’”

She claimed to have not even watched the film, although this is a tactic many actors pursue when they are uncertain with their performance. This leads us to question if Johnson was grossly misled on what this film would end up looking like.

Either way, it proved to be a blunder among both fans and the box offices.

Despite the obvious issues with the film, it can still be considered a good “bad” movie that fans of the Spider-Verse can at least enjoy laughing at. Captivating, although cliche, “Madame Web” is a must see in spite of, and perhaps because of, its faults.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Rainson, Features Editor & Social Media Manager
Olivia Rainson is a senior English major and creative writing minor serving as the Features Editor and Social Media Manager. She also works at the University Writing Center and is on the editorial board of the Intersections Literary Magazine. Olivia has been with The Torch since the beginning of her sophomore year, and when she isn’t writing, you can find her reading with an iced coffee. Olivia can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]
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