Woof. What happened here? Marvel’s Black Widow is one of the few times I’ve felt that an MCU film was more miss than hit. I really wanted to like it, and there’s a lot to like. But there’s also some key chunks that are missing that really, really annoyed me. It feels like a tragic, misshapen tower of superhero cinema, teetering and screeching, bickering and crashing.
The escapism that I crave from my superhero flicks was missing, and was instead replaced with claustrophobic, awkward and frustratingly blocky acting. So let’s start at the top. Johannsen was great, and she did the best she could. The scenes where she needs to be emotional are emotional, and her bond with her sister never felt forced. Florence Pugh knocked it out of the park. She was an incredible younger sibling and a fantastic screen presence. She kept us rooting for her character, and the impact of the dysfunctional family really only stuck because of her. I’m very excited for more of her in the MCU.
Another individual who I’m excited to see more of is David Harbour as the Crimson Gut… no. Red Star? I’ll google his superhero name in a second. The Vermillion Protector was awesome. He played the classic “dumb dad with zero social skills but a deeply buried and misunderstood fatherly love” cliche to a T. He does that whole dad thing better in that other show he’s in, but he did fantastic as an aging supersoldier still living in his past. I wish he’d gotten more time on screen as the Red Russion.
I’m also interested in how the Ruby Rubicon fits into the whole supersoldier game as a whole. There’s a lot of ‘this dude was also a supersoldier!’ thing going on lately, and it was completely saturated to the point of frustration in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so it’s odd to see it… again. Nonetheless, Vodka Man is one of the best parts of this movie. Rachel Weisz is.
Black Widow is fun, but it also dances along the edge of this weird ‘coming of age’ story and the aforementioned dysfunctional family dynamic thing, with a heavy dose of ‘broken childhood’. It works, but only in the most standard way possible. It’s not all that interesting, but only because you know how it’ll end up. There’s a weird introduction of flashbacks that sort of didn’t feel all that necessary, but also kind of dumb because the audience could’ve figured out what the plan was without the flashbacks. Or better yet, they could’ve gotten inventive in how convey that information before they boxed themselves creatively.
The movie starts very strong, builds tension and mystery and aligns us with the goal, and then… we’re in the third act. I found this very frustrating, considering how long the third act was. Also, the end is so weird. I genuinely think that someone done goofed and didn’t know how to end this shit. It’s like the end of Return of the King, except less entertaining and more confusing. I think that some of it was shoved in there to make more sense for other movies in the MCU, which is forgivable, but it was still very awkward.
The action also left a lot to be desired. I’m not saying I wanted The Raid level of quality, but I definitely expected better than Taken. There’s a final fight at the end between Natasha and some other folks, and it’s good. It’s really good, and should’ve gone on just a bit longer, but that’s only because I knew the movie was almost over and I wanted more of the good bits. Like really squeezing the end of the gogurt, but you know there’s no more left, so you just sort of nibble at the plastic before you find the trash can. Like that.
The script is fantastic. Everyone sounds and feels real and genuine, and I really liked the banter, and the humor was great. Very meta. The soundtrack was excellent, and there’s a couple of really powerful tracks that I think should’ve been used a bit more. That or the other filler tracks needed to be better. In any case, the OST, like the movie, is like the last big potato chip in the bag. There’s like, lots of crumbs and broken chips that’ll be satisfying, but not that satisfying? So you sort of wish we had more big chips. I’m really hungry.
Full disclosure, I stayed up until midnight to catch the release of the Black Widow OST. So I mean. I really wanted that last potato chip. This one’s my favorite.
Post Credits Scene
All in all, I wish we had a better Black Widow movie. I may rewrite the movie for shits and giggles, sort of what I did with my Terminator: Dark Fate review. 6/10. There’s an extra point in there for Florence, and another for all the butt shots we got, and then one point taken away for not giving us more David Harbour butt shots.
Black Widow is out in theaters, and Disney+.