Black Widow (2021) Film Review

Rating 12a
Length 2h13
Release 27.8.2021
Director Cate Shortland
About Natasha Romanoff, a former KGB spy, is shocked to find out that her ex handler, General Dreykov, is still alive. While evading capture by Taskmaster, she is forced to confront her dark past.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

First Thoughts

I’ve now watched this film three times and I really have struggled to put down my thoughts. I’m glad I didn’t do it after my first, or second, watch. There are things I’m still very unhappy about, but …. well you’ll see from my review.

The Good

  • Florence Pugh as Yelena is what saves this film. She is a breath of fresh air as this young woman using humour as her guard. Her interaction with both Nat and her ‘father’ are pitched perfectly.
    Most importantly, her persona leaves me begging for Yelena to have interactions with Ant Man, Peter Parker and Nebula. It is going to be so much fun see her have verbal duels with some of these heroes.
  • David Harbour was always going to be a plus for me. I was a little worried; I’ve heard some of his attempts at accents, and they’re not always pretty. However, his Russian isn’t too bad.
    You can tell that Harbour is enjoying every minute of playing this Red State answer to Captain America. It’s brilliant to see a hero that has already had his time and is perhaps someone who should be sitting out of the fights. Then, you see him fight and realise; he’s still got it.
  • The relationship/ family dynamic of the OG Black Widow family is something I took for granted the first time I watched, but I really enjoyed this different type of dysfunction.
    The “time of the month” scene, for example was a stroke of genius. In that short interaction, you got to see Guardian’s ignorance, Yalana’s dark humour and Nat’s leadership skills.
  • The action, as always is spot on and well placed within the story structure. This film almost mimics a Bond movie with its exotic locations (the safe house in Budapest looks so similar to the last act of Craig’s Casino Royale), motor vehicle chases and a lair final showdown.

The Bad

  • The story is underwhelming. Being placed where it was in the timeline and release schedule means the story had to be somewhat self contained. Not only that, but there was a sense of retcon in order to make this work.
    The biggest thing of that I felt was ‘Budapest’. I’ll be honest, the Mouse House had a hard job on their hands with that. When you mention something so vague; you set of about a million plot bunnies. Nothing will live up to what’s been imagined in the heads of many geek’s in the years since it was first mentioned.
  • My issue with Taskmaster is the way the gender of them was hidden. It was deliberate and I’m pretty certain the person inside the Taskmaster suit prior to the reveal was male. It’s not clever, it doesn’t make the reveal more shocking. It just really makes them just another really weak antagonist.
  • Dreykov was badly cast. You do not cast Ray Winstone as a Russian. That man cannot do an accent to save his life and it ruins the character. Instead of him being this formidable leader, he comes across as a cheap panto villain.
  • O-T Fagbenle is wasted as Rick Mason. How are we only just being introduced to him now? This is such a shame as not only did I love the character, I loved his interaction with both Nat and Yalana.
  • Not the fault of the film itself, but the way in which trailers are made needs to change. It was heavily implied that Rachel Weisz’ character, Melina, had died. It is certainly a shock to both Yelena and Nat that she’s not and I think it’s meant to be a shock for us too. That’s hard for the audience to do though, seeing as she appears heavily in the trailer.

The Ugly

  • Black Widow deserved better. There, I said it.
  • This is a film that has almost zero impact upon the universe, mainly because it was tagged on to Phase 3 and added out of sequence.
    Had the film been released prior to Infinity War and Endgame, there would have at least been a slight element of jeopardy. As it stands, we know Nat can’t be killed and it narrative loses any tension.
    Not only that, but placing this film before Nat’s sacrifice? Jesus, that adds so much weight. Don’t have the same punch after the fact, but in the right order Nat is sacrificing herself for two families.
  • Not a single Avenger comes to help. Yes, I know that this is happening mid Civil War, but Disney, Buba, she’s been the wing woman to all these boy’s ‘adventures’ and you can’t even get one scene? Hell, you couldn’t even get Jeremy Renner in for the flashbacks? Do you not realise quite how shitty that is?!
  • It’s not Nat’s film. Not really. The only way this works, in terms of impact, is that it is a film that introduces Yelena Belova to the Avengers Universe. Yet, even this feels like an afterthought based upon fan reaction to the amazing Florence Pugh.

Final Thoughts

An underwhelming addition to the Marvel Universe that does not do Nat, or Scarlett Johannsen, justice.

Avengers Assemble (2012)

Rating 12
Length 2h23
Release 26.4.2012
Director Joss Whedon
About Nick Fury is compelled to launch the Avengers Initiative when Loki poses a threat to planet Earth. His squad of superheroes
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:


First Thoughts

This was the film in the franchise that truly got me into Marvel. The second Joss Whedon was signed on, my fan-girl self was propped up like a meerkat waiting for any and all scraps made available in the run up to the release. Back then his shitty side was still a cloaked rumour and this outing was a hit.
Then Ultron wasn’t so good and as Whedon left, he made sure he wouldn’t be asked back. Now we know he’s truly a douchebag and slime ball. I think I’ve been stalling my rewatch of this, thinking the film would be tainted.

The Good

  • This has one of the smoothest opening to a Marvel movie to date. Which is even more impressive when you consider the sheer character count involved. It helps that the dialogue helps with those transitions. It’s all rather clever as it also drip feeds the information regarding the Tesseract to the audience too.
  • Agent Coulson is the MVP for me in this film. He’s the heart, the comedy and the geek in all of us. Clark Gregg plays it perfectly and you really feel the weight of his loss after his intermittent appearances so far.
  • The film has the DNA of Whedon; his pop culture references, smart and quick dialogue and wicked action sequences. This film works so well because it gives the audience what it wants: the answer to the ultimate question “who would win in a fight between x & y?”
    The best signature scene would have to be right after Nat has worked out Banner is Loki’s play. The group’s in-fighting had been perfected by Whedon on Buffy and this scene works like a charm.
  • I love that we finally have a Bruce Banner that works. Mark Ruffalo gives us the ideal Banner that blends the intellect, temperament and regret into a believable character.
    We also have to give credit to Ruffalo for The Hulk too. Through motion capture, we’re able to get the balance, or rather imbalance, between the two egos. If we are ever going to see Avengers fight with each other, you need to have The Hulk in the mix.
  • I absolutely love the film score and the introduction of the Avengers theme music. Alan Silvestri has composed many iconic themes, but this has to be my favourite. Not only is it well used here, it is something that has appeared in many other MCU films.

The Bad

  • I do not like the scene in which Rogers hands Fury money. Mainly because it’s clear Rogers has been debriefed by Fury, so knows who he is. So other than it being a racist stab at the ‘man out of time’ aspect of Cap, I can’t see it’s purpose.

The Ugly

  • Coulson is the reason I have trust issues. Obviously this is not so much about this film, but things that came out after the fact. I cried when Coulson died. I saw Assemble in the cinema at least 6 times over the summer of 2012, and I cried every time.
    Then Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D came along and resurrected my favourite MCU character. Yes, on one hand, I was happy. However, it has implications. It makes any death in the MCU reversible. It takes away the importance of his death in this film upon a rewatch. It’s actually so problematic that there are debates about whether Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D is cannon.
    It also means I always second guess any other death that occurs in the universe. Loki’s timeline (even pre-tv show) further cements this emotional detachment. There’s a character much further down the line that I know I would have sobbed at their demise. However, I don’t trust that they’re really gone.

Final Thoughts

Still as enjoyable as the first day I watched it. There’s enough other people involved to be able to see it as a brilliant film without the skank of Whedon.