Tag Archives: black widow

Movie Review – Black Widow (2021)

Russian spies! Explosions! Boris and Natasha accents!

BQB here with a review of the latest Marvel movie, Black Widow.

It’s funny, I forgot to mention in my Major Grom interview that it would have been better if the characters who dubbed the English lines over that film had spoken in bad Russian accents. It was odd to see characters running around Russia speaking American English, whereas if they had just spoken like Count Dracula, my American ears would have been like, “Oh, OK! Now I can get into this!”

Well, don’t worry because the accents are here…except for Scar Jo. I guess it would be a lot to ask her to keep up a Russian accent for so many films. But I digress.

Anyway…so after a year and four months of not going to the movie theater, I finally ventured out and saw this one…in a theater…with a bag of popcorn…and miracle of miracles…I didn’t die…yet…for all I know someone might have sneezed the Delta Variant on me while I wasn’t looking, but oh well, I suppose you can lock yourself up from all the world’s ills and live forever, but then again, if you do that, you will have never truly lived.

I’ll say it up front. It’s good. The movie is a prequel that should have been a sequel. I mean, for Christ’s sake, they gave Ant Man two movies before they gave Black Widow one. It sort of feels like an afterthought, i.e. now that Marvel ended the Avengers films, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Loki gets a show. Falcon and the Winter Soldier get a show. Holy crap, even Loki gets a show. But Black Widow was never bottom of the barrel material. She was ready for primetime all along.

The plot? In the 90s, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz appear to be a typical couple, parents of two daughters living in Suburbia. As it turns out, they are spies, posing in the states so as to get their hands on U.S. tech, and once the mission is done, they return their lives as covert spies, Melina as the Iron Maiden and Harbour as the Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America.

The daughters, quite horrifically, are sold out. Young Natasha aka Black Widow was old enough to know she was just posing as an American kid for spying purposes, but wanted the idyllic American life to continue. Sadly, Yelena was so young she thought she actually the spies were her parents and was heartbroken to discover they weren’t.

The years pass. The “Red Room” program begins, led by the evil Dreykov, aptly portrayed by Ray Winstone, who honestly, is pretty decent as comic book villains go. While other MCU villains rely on gadgets and costumes and powers, Dreykov relies on espionage combined with an army of abandoned young girls turned Black Widows, or brainwashed assassins who murder and destroy on his command. Oh, and his top baddy is The Taskmasker, a masked evildoer capable of copying an opponent’s fighting style and using it against them.

Long story short, Yelena, now a Black Widow herself, discovers a chemical that can break her fellow widows free of Dreykov’s mind control, but she must team up with Scar Jo’s Natasha as, well as Red Guardian and Iron Maiden…in order to take Dreykov down and set the widows free.

Overall, a fun time and Florence Pugh steals the show, the bratty little sister who constantly mocks Natasha’s alleged posery (What is this stance you do where you land on your feet and grab the floor? What is that all about?)

My main criticism is I thought Natash and Yelena forgive their faux parents way too easily. I guess you could make the argument that they live in a rough world where parental figures selling them out are the least of their worries…not that this isn’t something to worry about but, you know, you have to prioritize when bad guys are literally trying to explode you every five minutes. But ultimately, Guardian and Maiden were the only Mom and Dad these kids knew…they’re just forgiven too easily for abandoning their parental roles and turning them over to the evil Red Room program…but then if they didn’t you wouldn’t have a movie.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I have to be honest, I always was a big fan of movie theaters. I have stayed away a long time out of COVID fears, plus it didn’t feel like Hollywood really put out anything worth while, opting to save their best stuff for post Covid days. But Black Widow got me back to the theater, even though I could have rented it on Disney Plus.

I’ll be honest, there were days in the past where I almost went to the theater to see anything, literally anything, just for something to do. But now…I mean…will I go to the theater to see something like Space Jam? I hate to admit it but in the past, on a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do, I might have (OK I would have) but now…I mean yeah, if they’re letting me see it on TV now, I’ll watch Space Jam at home and only the big movies like Black Widow will get me to buy a ticket.)

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In Defense of Joss Whedon

cropped-cropped-img_1543.jpgBriefly, I was sad to see Joss Whedon being accused of being anti-feminism.  I mean, the guy is the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  If you were a young person in the late 90’s/early 00’s you were glued to that show.  Evil hideous vampires running in terror at the mere mention of “The Slayer.”  Willow and Tara – one of the first open lesbian relationships I remember seeing on television.  Faith the Vampire Slayer who went rogue.  Willow goes from lowly nerd to witch of unstoppable power.

Meanwhile, if you saw the latest Avengers and thought that Black Widow came across as weak then I don’t know.  I don’t think we saw the same movie.

You might have noticed that I’m a nerd.  SPOILER –  Due to said nerdyness, I cheered for the scene where Black Widow, referring to Bruce Banner, says “He’s kind of dorky.  Chicks dig it.”

In my head, there was a voice that said, “No, no they really don’t but thank you for saying that, Black Widow.  It made my day.”

If there had been some kind of effort in the film to portray Black Widow as some kind of brainless bimbo, wouldn’t she have gone for Thor’s muscles or Tony Stark’s money?  No, she went for the nerdiest member of the team.  The guy with the brain.

In reality, the nerd never gets the girl.  Capt. America, Thor, and Iron Man can walk out the front door and score a dozen women before they hit the front porch, but in his human form, Bruce Banner is a super geek.  It was nice to see a geek get the girl.

What’s the argument that Black Widow came across as weak?  Strong women can’t fall in love?  They can’t be comforting?  Hulks need love too you know.

SPOILER – The main complaint centers around a scene where Banner tells Black Widow he can’t be with her because he’s a “monster” and he can’t have children.  (I’m not actually sure why he can’t have children.  Is there a scientific reason as in the gamma radiation fried his junk or just the general safety concern that if he had a kid the kid might misbehave, piss Bruce off and he’ll Hulk out?  But I digress)

Black Widow shares that she can’t have children either because of a forced sterilization procedure she underwent during assassin training (no kids=no ties that can be exploited).  She then says something like “you’re not the only monster on the team.”

Thus the fracas is over the idea that a woman who can’t give birth is somehow a “monster” but I don’t think that was what Whedon was trying to say at all.

I mean, from a writing perspective, maybe that point could have been clarified, but in general I think she was referencing her overall past as a ruthless killer and not necessarily the sterilization.

Or, maybe she was referring to it.  Maybe she does feel down on herself because of it.  Sometimes it is possible for a character to be too harsh on him or herself.  Perhaps Black Widow needs to realize all she has to offer the world as a hero who’s now fighting on the side of good.

SPOILER – Times she came across as strong in the film:

  • That whole driving the motorcycle through the city chase scene
  • Various scenes where she fights with the men and holds her own
  • Towards the end, where, when faced with “going down with the ship” i.e. refusing to leave the “air island” while there were still people in danger on it, she nonchalantly says, “There’s worse ways to go.”  That’s a sign of leadership right there.

On top of that, you have the new character, Scarlett Witch, who forms a team with her brother, Quicksilver and is arguably the stronger/more powerful of the duo.

I don’t know.  I know it’s only a movie and I know feminism and women’s rights are important but I’m not sure I can think of anyone who’s done more to promote female characters in comic book style movies and TV than Joss Whedon.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Movie Review – Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Iron Man!  Thor!  Hulk!  Captain America!  Black Widow!  Hawkeye!  Various and sundry other Avengers!

ASSEMBLE!

It’s time for Bookshelf Q. Battler’s review of Avengers: Age of Ultron!

Dun…dun dun da dun…dun dun…dunnnnn….dun dun da dun dun dun!

Sorry, that was me trying to sing the Avengers’ theme song.  Doesn’t translate well through the written word.

The summer movie season is has arrived and Hollywood is coming out swinging with this superhero extravaganza.

If you SPOILERS make you angrier than Bruce Banner with a stubbed toe, you might not want to click below:

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