It’s finally here; after years of campaigns, multiple behind-the-scenes scuffles and making it through the pandemic, the long-awaited “Black Widow” movie is finally here, as it dissects what the hell Natasha did in Budapest as well as reunite with her long-lost family in an attempt to stop Taskmaster after violating the Sokovia Accords. Since this takes place after Civil War and before the events of Infinity War, I sort of had to accept that this was gonna be nothing more than just a filler movie.
My concern was everything else: given how long people were clamoring for this movie to be released, would it live up to the hype? Did it give Scarlet Johansson the send she deserved for how long and how much she contributed to the character? Was it gonna be any better than Captain Marvel?
I’d say Yes as far as being better than Captain Marvel. But as far as being a well-needed send off…..I’d beg to differ.
Similar to The Winter Solider and FATW, it’s supposed to be a very bleak, very dark tale billed as a domestic drama that focuses on Natasha’s guilt over making it out of Russia, abandoning her “family,” and reinventing herself. A tragedy and an apt portrait of an identity crisis seemed to be right up the realms in regards to Natasha’s character and there were a few quieter moments where they understand the essence of what that means when it’s just Natasha and her family talking it out.
Speaking of which, Scarlett’s final performance as Natasha as serviceable enough for the material given and while Rachel Weisz and David Harbour are solid, it’s Florence Pugh who steals the show emphatically. The rest of said cast honestly felt really indifferent to me.
Through bits and pieces, the film actually sticks to the movie it promised to give us in some ways but when you take into consideration the direction this movie went in and how stripped down and barren it feels, you can sense something is amiss. Cate Shortland is a very talented director and she gave us brief glimpses and hints at a story that feel refreshingly more bleak, dour, depressing and harrowing but it's mostly anonymous here. How telling is it that people like Sam Raimi and Taika Watiti are able to get more creative control over their MCU movies and Cate Shortland couldn’t?
If this isn’t a damning sign of how most MCU movies feel more and more like the same, then I don’t know what to tell you.
The cinematography is fine. It’s average and basic in every which way; even in situations where they switch to a different angle in a different location to change the perspective, none of the shots really stand out.
Sure, the atmosphere does help set said bleak story in motion but the tone contradicts that in the worst of times. Bloody cheesy one-liners rob a good chunk of the emotional weight or longevity this supposedly bleak story is supposed to sustain; they just don’t fit to me. The rest of the dialogue I don’t mind and there are some moments that I get a chuckle out of me. Action sequences were…inconsequential, as none of them also stood out in any which way.
There are multiple instances where the film has to hold your hand to spoon feed the narrative towards you, pointless flashbacks are present with strange editing choices throughout, Taskmaster is essentially shitted on left right and center even after a reveal that made sense for the story’s progression, the actual antagonist of the film doesn’t serve any better and the way they both go out is STUPIDLY mystifying, unfortunately further solidifying this movies final act as one of the worst final acts in MCU history, with lackluster foreshadowing and terrible CGI and green screen spread incredibly thin.
This is just another mid-teir movie in this franchise that serves as just another cog in the MCU wheel: it’s functional in every which way but nothing about it serves its’ purpose well due to all the hype it sustained and it’s a piss-poor way for Scarlett to go out after 11 years of portraying this character. You constantly tease and finally pull the plug on a movie everybody’s wanted to see for decades and THIS is the best you can give us?
I will say this does have more effort than some of these other reviews are claiming; it does try to take what it has and make it work rather than pretend there was something of substance out of absolutely nothing. To me, the film is fine but stripping away its full potential will forever leave a bitter taste in my mouth; it’s purely passable, nothing more.