Black Widow Review

Black Widow Review
8 10

PLOT: On the run following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanova (Scarlett Johansson) is forced to reckon with her past when her estranged sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), comes back into her life demanding they take down The Red Room - the program that trained them to be assassins.

REVIEW: Can you believe that it's been two full years since the last Marvel movie hit theaters? We've all come to expect at least one Marvel flick every six months or so, and perhaps it takes absence to remind you how reliable the series really is, as when I saw the familiar MCU logo play at the beginning of BLACK WIDOW, I couldn't help but crack a big smile. Sure, we've had the Disney Plus shows, but a Marvel movie is something else entirely.

Of course, Black Widow was supposed to hit theatres over a year ago, but I digress. This movie is the long-awaited solo spinoff for Johansson's iconic character, making its simultaneous debut in theatres and on Disney Premier Access. Given her fate in Avengers: Endgame, this is a prequel, but it perfectly compliments her final appearance as here we see the character come full circle. The other movies always hinted at the "red in her ledger," but now we get to see exactly what that was, and it gives her a lot of depth, making her sacrifice in Endgame all the more affecting.

Johansson sinks her teeth into the part, but what's refreshing is that she never plays the character for pathos. Instead, she and director Cate Shortland go for a lighter touch. There are heavy moments, notably a strong opening credits montage showing her indoctrination, but the movie is still a blast. Johansson seems to relish the part, and her chemistry with Florence Pugh is on point. Meant to be a major new character in the MCU, Pugh's Yelena is much more than just another Black Widow. She's given her own more cynical edge, and what's surprising is how funny Pugh is in the part, cracking wise and teasing Natasha for her sexy superhero poses (which she can't help but try herself in the climax). She's got a bright future in the MCU, and there's no way anyone walks out of this not wanting a lot more from her.

That said, the movie is almost stolen by David Harbour. He turns out to be one of Marvel's best casting choices since the original Avengers team as Russia's answer to Captain America, Red Guardian. Largely played for laughs, Harbour also gives the character some much-needed depth. Having been abandoned and left to rot in jail, he's gone to seed somewhat in this, only to get sparked back to life when "his girls" come to pull him back into action.

Probably the best part of the movie relates to Yelena and Natasha's complicated relationship with their surrogate parents, Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz's original Black Widow, Melina. Abandoned by them into the Red Room program, the foursome has complicated chemistry, and the family dynamic gives the movie a lot of heart. No one is demonized, and Red Guardian's arc is intriguing; one hopes he'll also become a Marvel mainstay.

The action, which is much more of the John Wick style than the huge tentpole-CGI heavy stuff we usually get from Marvel, is on point. Johansson, Pugh, and Harbour all seem to be doing a lot of their fighting, and the set pieces are dynamic - especially an early battle between Yelena and Natasha. There's also a shout-out to Roger Moore early on that warms my 007-loving heart.

My only issue with the film is that I felt Weisz's role as Melina was slightly undercooked. They hint at more of an arc for her earlier, but she takes a backseat to the other three just because they're all chewing the scenery while she's more subtle. I also didn't find the villain, Ray Winstone's Dreykov, the head of The Red Room, memorable. After Thanos, any villain that's not larger than life can't help but come off a little weak. We do get the introduction of fan-favorite Taskmaster, with some great fights involving the character. However, the reveal is quite different than how the character is in the comics. No matter, it worked well in the film.

Overall, I have to say - I had a total blast with Black Widow. I think director Cate Shortland and her crew nailed it, with the cinematography having that slick Marvel look. The score by Lorne Balfe is probably my favorite of the MCU to date (he should become a house composer for them - along with Loki's Natalie Holt). One thing - if you can see this in a theater- you should. Due to restrictions where I live, I had to make do with a screener. While I was lucky to get it, I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen, preferably in IMAX. If theatres are open in your neck of the woods, this is well worth seeing on the biggest screen possible.

Source: JoBlo VIdeos

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