Spider Baby

Cassandra Webb is a paramedic/ambulance driver. “She’s not going room temp on my watch,” Webb categorically states as she weaves in and out of New York City traffic.

Immediately I realize when I OD on the saccharine goodness of Madame Web, the newest Sony Marvel film, I want Webb to be my ambulance driver.

Over the course of Madame Web Cassandra (Dakota Johnson) learns that she has a mysterious power of pre-cognition passed to her by her mother (who died during childbirth). She has foresight into the potential death of three teens that plays out in movie terms like a deja-vu. Cassandra has visions of events happening about 30-seconds before they actually occur.

There’s actually a mid-1950s Faith Domergue film (from England) called The Atomic Man where a scientist after being exposed to radiation can see “seven seconds” into the future. There’s also a ’60s spy spoof with a similar plot device titled Dimension 5. Neither uses the trope as well as Madame Web.

Cassandra uses her newfound ability to save a pigeon that had flown into her closed apartment window at terminal velocity. She opens the window and a few seconds later the bird flies into her kitchen and then flutters out.

(I actually witnessed a similar event at an apartment I had in the ’90s when a sparrow flew into a window on my second floor apartment. I heard a dull thud and looking out saw what appeared to be a dead bird lying next to a bird turd on the top of the air condition unit. My first thought was “This bird literally knocked the shit out of itself.” A minute later the bird started moving, shook it off, and flew away proving that there’s good in the world.)

Actresses in their 20s, one of who is current “It Girl” Sydney Sweeney, pass for youngsters. There hasn’t been such a leap of age faith since 30-year-old Jeremy Piven played a college senior in PCU.

You may wonder why Cassandra abandons the three teens in the woods of New Jersey while she goes back to search her NYC apartment but that’s a minor quibble in this mostly enjoyable comic book styled romp. 

The ending obviously is the set up for a better sequel that has a distinct X-Men vibe. Of special note is a Columbia Pictures logo at the beginning that celebrates that studio’s centennial.

By the way, Madame Web is a very Pepsi film. Characters drink or hold Pepsi unless they’re gulping Mountain Dew. One character is even killed by Pepsi. Pepsi has a North American contract for exclusivity at Regal Cinemas, so that’s probably the best place to see the film.

Madame Web opens wide in theaters on Valentine’s Day.


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