REVIEW: Black Widow

Do you remember watching Black Widow in the cinemas on May 1, 2020? Me neither.

Even though that was the original release date, we had to wait WELL OVER A WHOLE GOD DAMN FREAKIN’ YEAR to watch Scarlett Johansson kick ass in Black Widow.

Thanks a bunch, COVID. (Oh, also, thanks for locking me up in my house for over a year, preventing me from seeing my loved ones, but mainly for stopping me seeing ScarJo.)

I don’t know how – I must have been Gandhi in a past life – but Disney treated me to a screener of Marvel’s latest instalment, and, at risk of pissing off every Florence Pugh fan in the world, I was not expecting to enjoy it.

And then I watched it. How wrong was I?

Black Widow is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first film in Phase Four of the MCU. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff deals with her family’s broken relationships to tackle a conspiracy which is threatening the entire world.

(My mum reads all of my articles, but I can tell, after that paragraph, I’ve totally just lost her.)

The beauty of the MCU is that all of their films feel, tonally, very different. I will always stand by my baby, Thor: Ragnarok, for being one of the most zany, funny entries in the entire series. It is one of the greatest films ever made. Period.

But I also loved how adult Black Widow felt; the film opens with an airy, dramatic recital of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (almost like a John Lewis Christmas ad), as we see grainy footage of children screaming, as they’re being tortured and trained into what will become Black Widow agents.

This film is clearly intended for a much more mature audience; the action is a lot more brutal. The first time we see Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, she almost guts someone with a blade, as blood pours to the ground. There’s also a lot more swearing than other Marvel movies. And, most importantly, there’s subtitles.

People were afraid to watch the critically-acclaimed, Academy Award-winning Best Picture Parasite because it had subtitles. That means Black Widow is more sophisticated than Bong Joon-ho’s black comedy.

That’s not to say that this film won’t appeal to younger audiences; in fact, at times, Black Widow comes across as a bit too simplistic. As Natasha and her family flee the US for Cuba, we see her longingly staring at an America flag, and at an American football game. We get it. The only way it could get more Yankee-fied is if Don McLean’s ‘America Pie’ played on the rad-

Oh. It did? Ah. That’s a shame. It’s more on the nose than the ice cream on my nose right now. (Yes, I made a mess whilst eating my 99 Flake, but you try eating an ice cream whilst writing a review.)

Earlier, I said I thought I wasn’t going to like it. I was worried it was going to be too fight-heavy. Whilst I love Marvel, and the entire Cinematic Universe, when it all becomes a big fight, I get lost. I adored WandaVision, up until the end when it involved just glowing orbs smashing into each other; I couldn’t even make it through the entirety of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, for the same reason.

Going in to Black Widow, I knew there was going to be a lot of combat – after all, Natasha is a spy and an expert in hand-to-hand combat – but I just didn’t expect there to be THIS much combat. For the most part of the film, either Natasha or Yelena are fighting; there’s only a couple of moments where the characters grow in deep heartfelt conversations. As I mentioned, I love Marvel’s sense of humour, and it took nearly an hour for the first proper gags (which see Florence’s character hilariously roast Natasha’s for her superhero pose.)

Whilst the constant fight sequences can seem repetitive, that’s not to say they’re not gorgeous to watch; there are some incredible set pieces, involving avalanches and cars being launched off of bridges, and the actual choreography between actors is something I’ve not really seen in Marvel before. Rather than just throwing punches and kicks, they’re flipping over each other, and putting people in headlocks with their legs. The fantastic acrobatics make these sequences so much more exciting.

At times, it almost seems a little too over-the-top. The final act is pretty much ripped straight from the Saints Row video game franchise.

People who know me that I cannot wait for the day to changed The Movie Dweeb into solely a Florence Pugh stan account, and her stint in Black Widow just reinforces that idea. Both her and David Harbour are incredible additions to the film. Their charisma just carries every scene they’re in, and I would wholeheartedly watch an entire Yelena or Red Guardian standalone movie.

If you’ve been longing for the release of Black Widow for years, impatiently counting down the seconds until you can watch it, you’ll love the film. If, like me, you were wary of how it may be, you’ll also love it.

(And I’m not just saying that because I’m scared Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh could easily beat me up.)

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