Black Widow [Grade: B-]

Director: Cate Shortland

Story By: Stan Lee, Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, & Ray Winstone

* * *

Black Widow was the film that officially kicked off my “comeback” viewing in theaters since the pandemic’s debut. The question is, was this film the RIGHT film to be my “comeback” viewing—i.e. was it good? 

I mean, eh… it was safe. Entertaining, but safe for the Marvel I am used to. I wonder is it because of Disney…

I also need to mention that I have not read any of the comics, so I am not 100% aware of what is pulled, exaggerated, and/or dimmed from the Black Widow story at all. This is just my observation of the product as a finished, visual story. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #BlackWidow that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: C

Plot & Story: C

Pacing: A

Character Arc/Development: C

General Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush

Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. First and foremost, though his part was small… I just want to take a moment to objectify O.T. Fagbenie who played Natasha’s “best friend.” My goodness that man was beautiful! 😍😍

2. What’s powerful about this film is the level of badass estrogen! I mean, outside of 3 key men with speaking roles, this film is completely dominated by women! #WeLoveToSeeIt🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

3. Florence Pugh was subtle, yet hilarious. I enjoyed her. 👍🏾👍🏾

4. It seemed that a major theme was around “family.” Whether it was, “there isn’t one set exemplar of what makes “family,” family;” or even, “At the end of the day, “family” is who shows up and shows out for you when you need it.” My issue with this theme is that the film doesn’t really center Natasha’s trauma with family to truly carry this theme through effectively. Yeah, we get this really great series of videos of Natasha experiencing trauma during the opening credits scene, but none of this trauma had to do with “family.” Additionally, from what we learn later on in the  film, this isn’t Natasha’s “first time.” So… that alone says there should’ve been more of an origin to Natasha/Black Widow that focused more on who she is a character and Avenger vs highlighting a moment that could’ve easily been discussed and resolved in 2-3 therapy sessions with a homework assignment—it felt a little forced. 🤷🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

5. The action was nice! Listen, that “sky and debris” fight choreography. Yeeeesssss, Scarlett! 🙌🏾

6. When that “tank” hit the corner, I felt like I was watching a damn video game level with the “big boss” or something. And I want to say that there is actually a game with a very similar big boss scene—where you are trying not to be run over by a huge boulder maybe?? and there are cars flying as the boss crashes into them… 🤔🤔🤔

7. I have a love/hate relationship with Alexei’s character. It’s bad enough that we don’t get much from his character in the beginning, so the actual delivery and real introduction to his character once the film provides him with more screen time felt strange. It was as if his character was no longer for the purpose of the story and theme, but more for the pacing and audience entertainment. 🥴🤷🏾‍♂️

8. Speaking of the story, it seems that this was a story about young girls “taken” from their family then trained and conditioned in the art of assassination find one another in order to bring down the regime that created them. Although this is rather straight forward, the execution isn’t as tightly aligned. The film “Harry Wormwooded” this “car of a story” with explosions, action, and comedy. The motive of villains in many superhero movies can often times be a little messy. To be honest, the whole “take over the world’ thing is so 1980s/1990s cartoony. We are at a point where we can be more intelligent and critical with villain aspirations, but this film chose to simply stick with ideas of “gaining power.” So that felt a little boring/lackluster. 🤷🏾‍♂️

THEN, to add to that, there is nothing really unpacked with the “why’s” of Natasha and Elena. Yeah, we get this “table conversation” about “the mission/assignment,” but for something to be that foundational to the overall movement of this film, we should’ve gotten more than just a “conversation.” 🤷🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

The only “interesting” aspect to the story was the villain’s focus on women/young girls. That alone could’ve been a seed to sprout from in the think tank. 🤷🏾‍♂️

9. The accents were not consistent… 👀

10. Rachel Weisz’s character was also enjoyable. The writing  also did a good job with dropping small crumbs of character development for her in the beginning. 👍🏾👍🏾

11. I appreciated the pacing of this film. It moved extremely well—even Act One was edited in a way that allowed us to get some story without wasting time with getting to the action. 👍🏾👍🏾

12. I REALLY wasn’t a big fan of this antidote’s effect. It’s so “happily ever after” inspired, and I wanted more tension heavy impact. Hell, that is traumatic! Why would anyone just “snap to?” At least with #WandaVision, they were crying for help once individually pulled out of their trance. 🤷🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

13. Natasha’s character development didn’t really support the theme as well as it could have, mainly because the story didn’t really allow me to see Natasha struggle with family relationships. Just because the writers had her constantly say “family,” talk about the Avengers as “family,” and join her sister on this endeavor didn’t mean anything to me. Hell, we got an entire introductory scene of adult Natasha where she technically was borderline headed towards living like a Nomad away from everyone. 

ALSO, Natasha’s motive was never even about “family.” It involved “family,” eventually, but it was initially about figuring out “why she was attacked” which led to a rabbit hole of events and situations that weaved in her “family.” 🤷🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

14. That prison and snow caps scene… Yeeeesssss! 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

15. Okay for weaving in characters from the Disney Plus Marvel series… 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

* * *

Overall, #BlackWidow is Marvel takes on The Giver- meets Spy Kids- meets 2019’s Charlies Angels (which I find to be a MUCH better film, to be honest). A friend DM’d to ask what I thought, and I said to him, “it’s cute…and I hate using that term with a woman dominated cast, but that’s the word that comes to mind…but the action and pacing is strong.” 

The film definitely delivers with the explosions and action sequences, and even provides some comedic relief, but it isn’t a Marvel film that I would find myself wanting to see again. Out of all of the films released for streaming during the peak of the pandemic, this is one that should’ve been on that list vs having the option of being in theaters. It’s not a terrible film, but it doesn’t meet its “summer blockbuster worthy” hype. So if you are with people, and you have to decide between this film and another—choose the other, and come back to this film when there’s no other contenders. 

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