Black Widow (2021) movie review
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Black Widow follows the titular hero, Natasha Romanoff, as she goes on the run from the US government only to find herself caught up in a plot that reunites her with her family from a past life. The latest theatrical entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we well as the first one we have had in two years, was released this past weekend to the sweet tune of an $80 million box office haul thanks to some fairly positive reviews and anticipation that goes back to the first theatrical delays of 2020.
As much as I would love to dive into why this film wasn’t made in 2016, I have to work shortly. Which brings me to a quick apology for not having this review up sooner. Things are a pretty busy and we still have the first two Fear Street (2021) films to review on top of everything coming out this next weekend. We do appreciate everyone sticking with us though! Now, on to the movie! Black Widow! Finally here! Assuming everyone is going to go see it regardless of our review, how is it? Eh, it’s fine.
Let’s get something out of the way: This would have been better if it had been released before Infinity War. Throughout the film the action sequences present a heavy layer of tension that feels totally ridiculous knowing that the film can only carry so much weight. Releasing this film before the MCU’s big finale at the time would have created a more intriguing story, as we the audience could wonder what will happen next with the ideas set up in the film. Now I wonder where these characters were during the events of the films that follow it chronologically…
Of course being a Marvel film, it was definitely more entertaining than the previous few blockbusters we reviewed. Is it a little ridiculous? Well at least they don’t go to space in a car… Does it always line up? At least there’s no time travel in this… Which is odd because these are things the MCU has already blown past. What I’m trying to say then is that, despite some ridiculous moments, the more grounded feel for the film was a nice change of pace both for the MCU and for the other big films not streaming and playing in theaters.
As far as the story and pacing goes, there are some pros and cons. The film is consistently entertaining, and despite some choppy editing and a few fights that are hard to follow, the action sequences overall are still better than anything that happened in the latest Fast & Furious & Family Franchise (or ‘FFFF9 Which is Really 10’ for short.) Black Widow also takes a bit more time to focus on drama than I expected. The film presents a genuinely compelling family dynamic that drives the entire second act wonderfully.
That said, as invested as I was in the characters and emotional core of the film, I felt myself very bored with the story itself. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who doesn’t know the actual plot of the film, but I do wish there were more build-up presented in the first act, or on the MCU in general. That or a different approach was needed entirely, as events simply happen to get us to a big finally against two of the worst villains in the MCU for what feels like a very typical reason. The film features a strong opening for Natasha as a character, including a fantastic opening title sequence that, while very well made, could have used a little more of the plot setup. We’ve already sat through a three hour Marvel film; we can add an extra ten minutes to this one…
So speaking of the worst villains in the MCU, Taskmaster is really dull, and Ray Winstone was miscast as a Russian. Fortunately, the rest of the cast picks up the slack for the villains. Scarlett Johansson delivers a strong lead performance which, honestly wasn’t a surprise. Something else that wasn’t a surprise was how awesome Florence Pugh and David Harbour were in this movie! Sure they both aren’t given that much to work with, and Harbour especially could have had a bit more to do, but these two talented stars give wonderful performances that manage to bring most of both the heart and the comedy in Black Widow.
The rest of the film falls in the same perfectly average category that the film does. The score? Yeah it was fine. Visual effects? Not bad. Character arcs? I guess they are fine. Look, Black Widow is perfectly fine. It is Winter Soldier (2014)? No. It is Thor: The Dark Moody One (2013)? No. Much of this film, including the action, performances, and actual story, are very hit-or-miss, while the rest helps balance the movie, creating an enjoyable watch that might not be the most memorably film of the year even, but is still better than half of the rest of the big action films that we’ve had recently… 6/10.
So Black Widow? What did you think? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And like I said before, we have a bunch of reviews coming out soon, so let us know in the comments which upcoming films you’d like us to write about first!
-review by Ryan Prince