Movie Review – “Black Widow”

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally available, after COVID-19 related delays.

Cast and Crew Information

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
Rachel Weisz as Melina
David Harbour as Alexei
Ray Winstone as Dreykov
William Hurt as Secretary Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross

Story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson
Screenplay by Eric Pearson
Directed by Cate Shortland

Availability Information

Currently in theatres (where they are open) and streaming on Disney+.

Premise

Between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Natasha Romanoff makes some startling discoveries about her past and the realities of the present.

High Point

“I guess you’re just not strong enough, so I’ll have to do it myself.”

Low Point

It’s hard to mention this without spoilers, but… no wig?

The Review

This isn’t as original as one would hope. As the twenty fourth film in the franchise, there are some elements that are expected (post-credits scene, villains, etc.) but we always hope to go somewhere new. While this does some of that, and adds original elements by departing from the letter of the source material while still maintaining the spirit, much of what we see here plays directly into expectations. It plays into them well, but for the most part, we still know what’s coming. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are well done, and plentiful. This movie was a long time coming. Had it been up to me (or Kevin Feige, or almost anyone except Ike Perlmutter, who actually had the authority to make the call) the Black Widow’s first solo film would have been made between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The upside to getting this so late in the franchise is that the box office track records of Wonder Woman and Avengers: Endgame were established, so this got a far larger budget than it would have had previously. (The budget was 33% higher than the budget for Thor: The Dark World, for reference. Remember, this is a lead character with no supernatural abilities, so it’s easier to make her movie cheaper.) There are a suprisingly high number of action sequences in this compared to what I expected. There are very few scenes without some type of visual effects, but they all seem natural. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is predictable, but no less enjoyable. It’s like an episode of Columbo: you know who the killer is, you know what detail is bothering Columbo as he hunts the killer down, and you usually know how he’s going to nail the person, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch when it finally happens. The same goes here: by the end of the first act, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how it’s going to play out, especially since it takes place prior to movies we’ve already seen, but it’s still a fun ride to take that is logically consistent. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is a big part of why this works. Despite the volumes of action, there are character arcs for our lead players, and Johansson, Pugh, Harbour, and Weisz all deliver the performances needed to make this story work. While Oscar nominations are unlikely, they are far more likely than Golden Raspberry nominations. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is rock solid. Marvel Studios have an excellent grasp of the mechanics of filmmaking, and Cate Shortland brings it all together. I’m new to her work, but I’ll be watching for her name in the future. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is excellent. They are in control of the ride, and even when you see the turns coming, it’s fun to go through them. I give it 5 out of 6. If it were just a little less predictable, it could have hit a perfect score.

Overall, it’s another enjoyable chapter in the franchise. If you like the previous films, expect to like this one. If you didn’t like the previous films, I doubt this will change your mind. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Black Widow receives 35 out of 42.

6 replies on “Movie Review – “Black Widow””

  1. lost says:

    What I noticed was that they went with a regular opening titles sequence at the start instead of just a title card and holding the opening titles to the end. It makes sense that they did given the cold open and what played behind them.

    And then there was the lampshade on the heroic posing.

  2. Jethro says:

    It was hard for me to get hyped about this movie, given that it was released after Endgame.

    Aaaan with that said this movie was still a bit disappointing.

    There were some cute moments. But it has the one cardinal sin that is just unforgivable: All the fight scenes are super-quick-cut-you-can’t-figure-out-what’s-going-on. We’re talking 2-second cuts throughout. Yes I timed them.

    Even worse — the final fight features Black Widow in her traditional black catsuit fighting multiple opponents also dressed in black. And this annoyed me because she was wearing a white catsuit right before that! If you’re going to do 2-second-cut fight scene at least have the protagonist easy to spot!

    Ignoring that, this movie was pretty formulaic, to be honest. I’d also liked to have seen more Taskmaster. We really only saw Taskmaster fight Black Widow way at the beginning of the movie, and barely saw the character’s special skills. In the second fight in the movie we see none of them, possibly because Taskmaster is fighting someone who has not shown any special fighting skills themselves.

    I think a lof of the “THAT WAS AWESOME” reviews are coming from people who saw it in a movie theatre and are just really really happy to be back in a movie theatre.

    • For the record, I saw it at home on Disney+.

      • Jethro says:

        And if I may… criticise your criticism… I think you overscored this. For example, you literally say “the acting wasn’t great, 5/6” and “the story was predictable, 4/6”. And those are the sections I agree with you about!

        Oh, also one thing I forgot to mention above is that if you’re watching Moonraker and the power goes out, that is undoubtedly a good thing.

  3. “Well, the boss said we have to have the regular Same-on-Same fight at the end, but I want us to go bigger…”

  4. JD DeLuzio says:

    I saw it at the drive-in,* which generally enhanced it, but we enjoyed the film. It’s yet another MCU chapter that’s overblown, has decent acting, treats the laws of physics as a list of suggestions, and entertains if you go in expecting an MCU superhero movie. They did do a few interesting things with the families (and sisters, in particular) concept, and with continuing to show how a world with superheroes functions. And yes, the production blew me away. The film features quite a bit of globe-trotting, including some sequences that could have been done closer to home quite easily, but weren’t.

    A good Marvel movie. Not the best Marvel movie.

    *Teens camping in a reverse-parked truck? Check.
    Little kid in pajamas? Check.
    Marijuana smell wafting by? Check.
    Bare feet out a car window? Check.

    That was almost a full Drive-In BINGO before the movie even started. I suppose “Retro Dancing Hot Dog in Concessions Promo” would be the free space.

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