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Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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Joined 4th Oct 2021
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Well, I saw my first movie of 2024, Night Swim, and it was a dud, though not at least a painful one. It was a typical January horror film, though of the mediocre school as opposed to outright schlock. It tells a Stephen King-esque tale of a haunted swimming pool in the new backyard of Ray (Wyatt Russell) and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) and their two children. Ray is an ex-baseball star whose career has been stopped short by ME, so when the pool seems to rejuvenate his ailing muscles he’s delighted. But it also has a nasty habit of luring moggies to their doom and violently interrupting midnight games of Marco Polo.

I described this as a King-style plot because his career started out with a lot of stories about everyday objects - hotel rooms, cars, laundry machines - taking on supernatural malevolence. Night Swim feels in its premise and basic familial setup like a story from his first collection, Night Shift. But director/co-writer Bryce McGuire, assisted with the screenplay by Rod Blackhurst, just doesn’t give it the oomph that it needed to reach King’s level.

There are roughly two ways to tell a story about a haunted swimming pool. The first is as campy schock, like an ‘80s movie where the filter comes alive and sucks someone’s insides out through their trunks, while others crack their heads open running by the pool. (DESPITE the warnings!) Maybe a lifeguard gets garrotted by his own whistle.

The second is as a more subtextual ghost story. The pool and its rejuvenation abilities are a metaphor for the father’s ambition as well as his thwarted athleticism. Beneath his humble facade is an egotist who resents his wife and children, almost blaming them for his ailment. He prizes his nightly swim above all else, and forges a parasocial bond with the pool, not caring when it almost kills another swimmer…

Night Swim’s tone is too dour for the former approach and its characters too thin for the latter. Though sold with a 15 certificate here, it’s clearly been workshopped to fit a PG-13 in the States. It could even have passed as a 12A here, since there’s no sex or foul language and its “strong horror” (to quote the BBFC) is really of the mildest hue.

The basics of a good horror story are there, but it aims firmly at mediocre. I never felt as though the pool really had a mind of its own, or was cursed or whatever. An issue which wasn’t helped by characters making stupid choices like when one crawls across the diving board to pull an inflatable near. A standard January horror.

Rating: 2/4

more reviews at ijustsaw.art.blog

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
England 5awards
Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424


I just saw The Boy and the Heron and it was great. A fantasy drama out of Japan, it’s set mostly around the bombing of Tokyo during the 1940s and follows a young man whose mother dies and whose father then takes him to the countryside to set up home with a new wife. But her sprawling estate contains mysteries, and a talking heron who leads the boy to a strange tower, from which one of his stepmother’s descendants disappeared long ago…

The animation is frequently beautiful, evoking storybook landscapes in the classic Studio Ghibli style, reminiscent of back when Disney was still putting effort into its animated features. Like a lot of the best fantasy stories, The Boy and the Heron utilises folklore in connection with strong characters, whose emotional lives are symbolised in the fairy tale adventures they have. I saw the subtitled print and the performances felt authentic, as they inevitably would when coming from their original Japanese actors.

The fairy tale creatures that populate the world beyond the tower are one of the film’s most entertaining features. My favourites are the ghosts who represent the souls of the unborn, cutely plump little widgets, although they’re given a run for their money by the human-sized parakeets, who straddle a line between comic foils and Lovecraftian monstrosities.

Writer/director Hayao Miyazaki is responsible for any number of animated masterpieces and The Boy and the Heron continues favourite themes, such as children and families and how the young overcome trauma. The fantasy world created in this film is exciting and original, working both literally and subtextually. Although the story takes place within the shadow of WWII this isn’t a war film, viewing the conflict more as many a child would, as a strange and terrible thing in the background of their life.

There’s an Alice in Wonderland quality to some of the adventures, and the relationship between the titular characters is delightfully odd. The plot and characters in general are heartwarming too. It’s always a pleasure to see a wistful and emotionally intelligent fairy tale on the big screen; these days it seems as if only the Japanese are still making them. As time goes by it seems less and less likely that Hollywood would ever take a gamble on anything as truly romantic and individual as this. They’d feel the need to add a cardboard villain, simpler stakes, and an obnoxious comic relief character. Putting The Boy and the Heron up against new Disney releases like Wish is just humiliating to the latter.

Soma Santoki brings a nuanced vocal performance to the boy and Masaki Suda a great comedic energy to the heron. The mysterious tower and its origins deserve to linger in cinematic memory as a Wonderland-esque landscape. Some of the physics of the other world might be a little confusing but since the film leans into its fairy-tale nature anyway, I never struggled too hard to suspend my disbelief. The Boy and the Heron has the iconic power of great fantasy literature.

Rating: 3.5/4

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Ahavati
Tyrant of Words
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I am so glad you started posting your reviews again! They are fabulous!

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
England 5awards
Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424

Ahavati said:I am so glad you started posting your reviews again! They are fabulous!

Thank you! I appreciate that. xxx

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
England 5awards
Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424


I just saw Poor Things and it was fantastic. In a sense, it’s like the “adults only” version of Barbie (2023) and gives a lot more of what I hoped for from that film: a fundamentally feminist narrative woven subtly within a fantasy tale. Both films are about a woman living a relatively charmed life - but as a prisoner of her specific environment. Something inside them longs to explore the outside, and they do, becoming fully-rounded human women in the process. Poor Things is set in a fantasy version of Victorian society and tells the simple story of a woman’s growth and self-discovery, in a remarkably odd and imaginative fashion. It’s funny, filthy, beautiful, moving, and one of the best films I’ve seen in the last five years.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Tony McNamara, based on a novel by Scottish author Alasdair Gray, the film stars Emma Stone as Bella Baxter, a “pretty r****d” in one man’s words. A Frankenstein-esque creation of Dr Godwin “God” Baxter (Willem Dafoe), she has been made from the corpse of a woman whom we see in the film’s first shot throwing herself from Tower Bridge. Baxter’s assistant, medical student Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef), falls in love with Bella. But her longing for freedom is wetted by Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a “pretty moron” who takes her on a Grand Tour of Europe during which her childlike state matures, and she finds herself becoming a person apart from what men have always wanted of her.

This is a film with a lot of very frank sex and language, including a refreshingly nonexploitative but still explicit lesbian scene, yet it feels so much more mature than most other Hollywood films which deal with similar material. Lanthimos has explored such themes before in The Favourite (2018), his film about Queen Anne’s fictionalised (and probably fictional) semi-lesbian relationships with her ladies-in-waiting. Both films are leavened by black comedy, although Poor Things reaches further into fantasy. Bella Baxter’s sexual escapades across Europe could have seemed sordid or fetishised in another director’s hands, but Lanthimos handles them with good humour, honesty, and maturity.

The visual look of the film is gorgeous, using saturation, desaturation, black-and-white, fish eye lenses, and other techniques to mirror the emotional as well as physical landscape. The settings are characters in the plot. London, Lisbon, and Paris are evoked with as much magic realism as, say, Mordor or Narnia.

Perhaps most importantly, the characters are developed or revealed with a keen understanding of and compassion for their natures. This is a feminist text, but not preachily so. Bella Baxter is at one level a comment on the heroine of Victorian literature, the abused and “ruined” woman who must kill herself to earn our sympathy. Without even realising what he’s doing, Dr Baxter - himself a victim of a sadistic patriarch - rewrites Bella Baxter’s story so that she’s not just a prettily tragic suicide, but a New Woman, divorced from men’s hangups about sex and sexuality and who finds the tools to self-actualise. She’s every woman, but also her own woman. Not just a poor thing, or a pretty child, but a human undefined by her sexual choices and how her successive male jailers interpret them.

Rating: 4/4

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Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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I just saw The Beekeeper and it was fun. I had my doubts given that it’s directed by David Ayer, whose track record hasn’t been great. He’s long seemed kind of a hack to me, given films like the travesty that was Bright and the total junk-food-for-the-mind first Suicide Squad. But a film like The Beekeeper suggests that when he’s paired up with a competent writer (Bright’s scribe was the execrable Max Landis) and isn’t subject to a company that doesn’t know what it’s doing (like DC’s movie division), he’s a B-movie action director of the old school.

This movie could easily have starred Charles Bronson or Jean-Claude van Damme in the ‘80s, although it would have been stripped of its political subtext, crude as it already is in Ayer’s vision. The baddies would have been street thugs or the local mob, as opposed to the uppermost echelons of power that come into play here. Jason Statham plays Adam Clay, a beekeeper of indeterminate origin whose neighbour falls prey to telephone fraud. Devastated by the loss of millions from her charitable fund, she takes her own life, and this motivates Clay’s rampage. It transpires that he’s a beekeeper both literally and figuratively, belonging to a covert spy agency themed around bees that operates outside the system.

Jeremy Irons shows up to add a splash of charisma and Josh “Hunger Games” Hutcherson is surprisingly effective as a single-earringed, Hawaiian-shirted, crypto-blathering f***boy. The story is very silly in the old B-movie tradition, but it’s also well-paced and efficient, which is more than can be said for some of Ayers’ work. I think what’s different here is that he’s not weighed down by fantasy tropes and superhero lore that he’s not au fait with and doesn’t care about. This time his writer is Kurt Wimmer, who’s also devolved into hackery before. Here, though, they focus their aim and make a functioning piece of disposable entertainment.

The script has some expository howlers – like when Statham talks about how targeting an elderly person is worse than targeting a child (if you say so…), or a telephone scammer playing the sympathy card to con an old woman by pretending that he has kids; he then mutes his earpiece so he can laughingly say ‘I don’t have kids!’ (Just be done with it and give him a twirly moustache, top hat, and hot air balloon to ride around in.) None of that really matters as the film is rattling off its ultra-violent set pieces, though.

If it feels like it’s missing a sense of real pathos that would make the various murders hit a little harder emotionally, that’s not really the genre this is working in. The only thing I missed from the old formula for these films was the love scene, where if you were lucky you’d see some nudity. Modern audiences don’t seem to like sex on screen, though, and may have even become more puritanical than the last generation. Which is a shame since in previous outings Statham’s been happy to give a little tease. Muscular middle-aged bodies are an awful thing to waste.

Rating: 3/4

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Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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I recently saw American Fiction and it was good. The directorial debut of Cord Jefferson, it stars Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious "Monk" Ellison, a literature PhD and novelist whose upper-middle-class Black experience is a hard sell for publishers looking to flog books.

With his widowed mother’s medical bills to pay, however, he decides to turn out what will come to be called F**k by “Stagg R Leigh”, a ghetto-set melodrama pandering to stereotypes of Black life in America. And the culture eats it up, putting it forward for literary prizes...

American Fiction has been marketed as a raucous satire but it’s better understood as a tragicomedy with satirical elements. At its core is a moving drama about a family, including Ellison’s gay brother Cliff (Sterling K. Brown). Wright’s performance is brilliant, presenting a protagonist who’s not always likeable and sometimes a sneering, conceited ass.

To be honest, I wasn’t enthused about this film because it seemed like an anti-“woke” screed, and its prologue appeared to confirm this. It sees a white, green-haired, flannel-wearing college girl objecting to the n-word appearing on the whiteboard of a Southern literature course. Maybe college students like this exist in America, but I haven’t met many in the UK, and the “nitpicking student feminist with dyed hair” stereotype is one that’s been used to talk over women’s issues for a while now.

Thankfully, the film becomes more nuanced. What I ended up liking about it is that it does challenge preconceptions. No one is truly the villain of this piece, and the story works to consider different perspectives.

For what it’s worth, as a general reader, my own two cents on the themes around publishing are that recent trends aren’t so much about race or identity as they are the need to engage and entertain again. From what we see of “Stagg R Leigh”’s novel, it opens with a murder scene in which the killer explains his pathology to his random homeless victim. Scenes like that draw people in, regardless of what race the characters are.

Mainstream writers have been pilfering tropes from their genre colleagues and studying their craft for decades now. It was back in 2002 that Michael Chabon denounced "the contemporary, quotidian, plotless, moment-of-truth revelatory story” so endemic to literary fiction. Put bluntly, writers in the mainstream became too bourgeois for things like plot, suspense, and imagination.

Interestingly, American Fiction is based on a book from 2001 called Erasure, by Percival Everett, which alternates chapters from F**k with the main narrative. The film takes a more conventional narrative approach, although it does dip into meta-fiction for its ending, which I liked.

One thing I did find funny is that one of the film’s comedic set pieces has a white Hollywood screenwriter share his latest project, a horror movie about a latter-day plantation wedding where slave ghosts attack the guests. This is presented as absurd (it’s called Plantation Annihilation)… but is actually the plot of “Brooms”, my favourite short story from 2023’s Edge of Here, an Afrofuturist collection by Kelechi Okafor.

Admittedly, her take was more subtle than whatever Plantation Annihilation would have been.

Rating: 3.5/4

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Ahavati
Tyrant of Words
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Thank you for this. That film is on my watchlist.

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424

Ahavati said:Thank you for this. That film is on my watchlist.

Tell me what you think when you see it!

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424


The first thing I noticed about The Zone of Interest was its certificate. 12A. The equivalent, I suppose, of PG-13 in America. Most adult-oriented films about the Holocaust (or any genocide) would presumably earn a higher rating given what it needs to depict. Schindler’s List (1993), which I was shown in school, is a 15.

But that’s the thing about The Zone of Interest. What a film in the Holocaust “genre” (if it can tastefully be so termed) would normally need to depict is deliberately backgrounded here. Strip away all of the historical context and ominous atmosphere, and what you’re left with is a beautifully shot and acted family drama which is completely without interest.

Just ordinary middle-class people, including a cleaner’s daughter who’s “landed on her feet” and married a government big shot, experiencing mundane daily dramas. She wants to stay in the countryside with their children. He’s being transferred by his bosses. They dine, they laugh, they fight.

The only thing is, just over the wall that borders their house, the command to drown a man for stealing an apple can be heard. Moreover, a stout, sharp-suited engineer has arrived with plans for new ovens which can burn greater “loads”. And other people’s clothes show up to be divided among the household…

Written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Martin Amis, which was about an Auschwitz officer’s obsession with the commandant’s wife. None of that plot description appears to be present in the film, which is the right choice. The essential plotlessness of Glazer’s film is what gives it its power. Christian Friedel plays Rudolf Höss, the real-life longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz (executed in 1945). Sandra Hüller is Hedwig Höss, his wife, who survived the war and lived until 1989.

Other characters, some real and others possibly fictionalised, flit in and out, but Rudolf and Hedwig are our zones of interest. And their zone of interest is the beautiful home they’ve acquired in the leafy, bucolic Polish countryside. The real “plot” of the film has nothing to do with affairs of the heart between officers, commandants, and their wives, but rather the slow, subtle unpeeling of the Höss family - depicted as ideal and serene in the painterly opening shots, a perfect illustration of the Third Reich’s “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” slogan, but over time poisoned by their proximity to the constant belching flames and ash that fill the sky from the camp next door.

We never see inside the camp, just as Hedwig and her children wouldn’t have seen it, but we know what’s going on there. Take the two Höss sons, one still in single digits and the other an adolescent romancing a local girl. In the opening shot of the family by a sun-soaked lake, the older boy carries the younger in brotherly affection. Towards the end of the film, he locks him in a greenhouse in an act of random sibling cruelty. Somewhere inside the children, they’ve absorbed and normalised the evil going on mere feet away. It doesn’t matter how “innocent” you are, how coddled you remain. You can’t live next door to murder and not be tainted.

I was reminded of a story I recently heard about a Russian grandmother celebrating the low price of strawberries, not caring that they’re cheap because they’ve been stolen from a devastated Ukraine. Or the TikTok clip of an Israeli leaving their home to the sound of missiles aimed at Gaza, thanking their government for the safety they feel knowing that those weapons will soon be striking their targets. Those targets being people, homes, communities.

Holocaust media has in recent years started generating a type of fairy tale literature that interprets the largest atrocity of the 20th century through a lens of simplistic goodies and baddies. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The Tattooist of Auschwitz. These are stories of magical innocents trapped in the castles of sneering villains. What’s so remarkable about The Zone of Interest is that more than any other recent work of its kind, it strips away morality and sentiment to show a mundane set of people just like you. It’s not about Nazism. It’s about you.

The Hösses aren’t so different to you and I in their family dynamics, their hopes and dreams. Hedwig talks of farming after the war, of visiting spas in Italy, of raising her children in the best conditions possible. Her fur coat may once have belonged to the woman her mother cleaned for, now probably over the wall, in the pits. Her children may play with gold teeth, no doubt extracted from unwilling mouths. Still, how many of us can say that we haven’t benefitted from barbarity in some fashion? We might not be as complicit as the commandant’s wife, or next door to the children sewing our clothes, and yet… we all have our zones of interest: ourselves.

Inevitably, much has been made of the “banality of evil” in connection with this film. The phrase was coined by the philosopher Hannah Arendt in her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem, about the trial of Holocaust organiser Adolf Eichmann, whom she described as neither a sociopath nor fanatic, but merely a dullard with no ideas beyond improving his station. (Like an extreme version of a middle-manager for a morally questionable insurance group, perhaps.)

Banality is a part of what’s going on in Glazer’s film, though not the whole picture. A more apposite word, I think, would be something like everydayness. The scenes of daily domestic drudgery are reminiscent of the 1975 French feminist film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, wherein the titular character goes through her routine - making beds, cooking dinner - until she goes insane.

Hedwig doesn’t go insane (in the conventional sense), though watching her and her parlourmaids run the household, day after day, brings to mind the same sort of encroaching madness. The film is scored with distant screams, flames, and crackling gunshots, enough beyond auditory presence to not disturb the family at a conscious level, so much as linger in the shadows while they fill their days with distractions. Until the physical effects appear, like when a canoe trip results in hasty scrub downs for the children, following a downpour of ash from Auschwitz’s chimneys.

Occasionally, Glazer pauses his painterly realism to use symbols. Midway through, we see a sequence of flowers in the commandant’s garden, crawling with bees, until the screen turns entirely red and with a constant low roar on the soundtrack. In a sense, it feels a bit like the famous shots of poppy fields used to suggest World War I, except with a perverse and sinister undertone. Stop and smell the flowers, until the blood pours in.

In this symbolic vein, The Zone of Interest has one of the most quietly haunting endings that I’ve seen. Without spoiling it, latter-day footage from Auschwitz is intercut with one character descending a large, empty, echoing edifice. Without insisting on any such meaning, it’s almost like a ghost story. A vision of the “future” gives shade to the “present”, as if in one terrible moment that character sees through time. And realises the legacy of all they’ve contributed to. The Zone of Interest is one of the darkest films about the Holocaust that’s ever been made, despite and because it never looks over the wall bordering Höss’ garden.

Rating: 4/4

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Ahavati
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Another great review! I have discovered that many films that are on British channels such as Netflix are not offered on American. One of my mentors from Manchester recommended a film that wasn't available here. It's interesting and I'm unsure why.

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
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Ahavati said:Another great review! I have discovered that many films that are on British channels such as Netflix are not offered on American. One of my mentors from Manchester recommended a film that wasn't available here. It's interesting and I'm unsure why.

All kinds of weird studio reasons. We often get American films late when they’re not XYZ superhero/franchise fare. Thank you for your kind words

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
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You know superhero movies are in trouble when studios start downplaying the fact they’re superhero movies. Sony’s marketing for Madame Web has focused on its supposed properties as a “suspense thriller”, which is a bit like trying to sell I Spit on Your Grave as a screwball comedy. Of course, anyone sensible knows it’s going to be a bad film even if they’ve somehow insulated themselves from the buzz around it. It’s distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It tells you it’s a bad movie as soon as the Sony logo appears, just as you know what you’re getting when you walk into McDonalds. The most you can hope for is pleasant mediocrity, the worst Morbius (2022). In line with the company’s frankly admirable thick-headedness, they’ve once again proved their commitment to consistency and churned out a product so dull and moronic that it’s become the focus of memes.

Where Morbius was slated for its stupid dialogue, non-sequitur scenes, bad effects, and overall insufferable lameness while trying to be cool - like, well, what it is: a bunch of non-creatives tossing out elements and placement deals for various products their filmmaking team then have to work in - Madame Web seems to have come under fire more generally for its sheer naffness and enervation. For example, the trailer line, “He was in the Amazon with my mom, when she was researching spiders, right before she died.” This seemingly innocuous dialogue became so known a meme an interviewer unwisely brought it up with its deliverer, star Dakota Johnson, who was merely baffled that anyone would find it notable. It does indeed seem strange at first, but I think what people were responding to was the sheer banality of the line, and the trailers in general. Audiences have grown so used to characters in these films making portentous statements in breathy voices that it’s passed the point of parody and lines like that feel redundantly expositional and clunky.

Comic book movies have become decadent. Theirs was never the most quality-conscious genre anyway, though some excellent entries by talented filmmakers built up financial returns that, coupled with a rising mainstream appreciation of nerd culture, evolved into a box office behemoth that’s decades old now. The law of entropy, however, has come into effect, and these films have grown lazier and lazier as they’ve become progressively more detached from anything other than a corporate egg-and-spoon race. Madame Webb is very much a dropped egg.

The “plot” of the film is that in 1973 Constance Webb (Kerry Bishé) is researching spiders when her assistant Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim) kills her and uses the creature she finds to gain superpowers. Just before she dies she gives birth to Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson), who thirty years later is a New York paramedic alongside Ben Parker (Adam Scott) - yes, that Ben Parker - when her latent psychic powers are activated by a plunge off a bridge into the waters below. She thereafter finds herself drawn to three teenage girls - Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Anya (Isabela Merced), and Mattie (Celeste O’Connor) - becoming their protector as they’re hunted by Sims. He’s plagued by visions of their coming maturity into Spider-Women, at which point they’ll kill him.

Madame Web has been eviscerated by critics and fans. Its biggest issue, though, is that it simply has no story or characters. What I’ve described above might sound like a plot, but it’s really just a rather senseless pseudo-narrative. Very little makes sense. For example, at one point Johnson’s character steals a NY cab, which we then see in the middle of the woods, where she leaves the three girls for several hours while she figures out her superpowers. Firstly, I don’t know New York, but I’d wager it takes some time to drive out into the middle of nowhere. You can’t just turn off 5th Avenue, cruise for a bit, and find yourself in Deliverance (1972) country, before leaving your guests there to listen out for banjos while you pop back to your apartment.

Secondly, the guests in this case are three vulnerable underage girls, one of whom is a runaway and another the child of deportees, fending for herself outside the system, who at one point admits that she doesn’t officially exist. And Web decides to leave them in light clothing in the woods near a truckers’ rest stop, for several hours, with the sun setting. Jesus Christ. It would honestly serve her right if she came back to three slaughtered Jane Does. And then she has the nerve to call them entitled brats for going to the rest stop where it’s warm and they can eat!

Bad guy Sims, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to have aged at all in the thirty years since Richard Nixon was still POTUS. I don’t recall the film saying that that’s a side effect of the spider venom, but who knows, maybe it is.

Still, he has no personality or even backstory. Sims might be the emptiest character I’ve seen in one of these movies. No personality, no motivation, and no real connection to the world around him. At least the villainess of The Marvels (2023) was a star tyrant with a grounding in science fantasy tropes. Hilariously, Madame Web implies that Sims gains access to incredible global surveillance tech by seducing one NSA woman. He does have a great body for a man who lived through the age of disco, to be fair, and the sort of smouldering intensity to give you confidence that you’ll be begging for mercy. I’d probably hop on board, national security be damned.

Dakota Johnson, on the other hand, is a fine actress but she needs better representation. Between this and the Fifty Shades films (2015 to 2018), she’s becoming typecast as Mary Sue-ish, pseudo-vulnerable whinge-bags without depth or wit. Her stellar work in the arthouse horror remake Suspiria (2018) was so refreshing partly because of its contrast with the lifeless misogynist caricature she’d been playing for three years. Madame Web in this context feels like a step back, even if she’s no longer being tied up and edged by abusive men with mummy issues.

The three girls are fine, delivering the clunky expositional dialogue about as well as anyone could have. None of the characters have character. They’re all just screenplay constructs to dangle in front of effects. And the effects are dreadful. The scene where Madame Web realises her powers, aside from being another facet of the narrative that makes no sense (she plunges into a river in a car yet somehow is outside of it immediately, and we don’t even see her rescue), is filmed with CGI that looks like it’s from a TV show.

Madame Web is a dull, pathetically shoddy piece of work. It might have been something if it wasn’t an origin story but focused on Madame Web as a blind old woman, like she is in the comics, directing her Spider-Women to solve crimes. But that would require creativity, and you check creativity at the door when you agree to write for Sony Pictures.

Rating: 1/4

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Ahavati
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I LOVE Dakota Johson ( I love her parents too ), but something told me this movie was not her wheelhouse. As much as I enjoy her acting, I cannot in all good conscience see her as an action hero. I guess I should watch the film and determine that for myself; however, I really appreciate you posting this. It confirmed my initial thoughts upon seeing the trailer and reading other reviews.

Casted_Runes
Mr Karswell
Fire of Insight
England 5awards
Joined 4th Oct 2021
Forum Posts: 424

Ahavati said:I LOVE Dakota Johson ( I love her parents too ), but something told me this movie was not her wheelhouse. As much as I enjoy her acting, I cannot in all good conscience see her as an action hero. I guess I should watch the film and determine that for myself; however, I really appreciate you posting this. It confirmed my initial thoughts upon seeing the trailer and reading other reviews.

I like her too, I just wish she’d get a better agent

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