Black Widow: Film Review

Black Widow

©Marvel Studios 2021

After a decade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow finally gets her own standalone movie.

The film takes place directly after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, when Avenger and former assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Johansson) is on the run and forced to confront a conspiracy with ties to her past.

That’s all I want to give away about the plot because I want to keep the surprise – Black Widow isn’t what I thought it would be and I don’t want to spoil that. It tells a really strong, substantial story that is grittier and more raw and grounded than usual MCU fare and focuses on humanising this powerful character and making her more vulnerable. It finally gives us an insight into Natasha’s backstory, and in comparison to some other Marvel films, it feels personal and intimate.

But, don’t worry, there are still plenty of very cool action sequences and big CGI-fuelled setpieces that we’ve come to expect from the MCU. These were fun and exciting to watch but I actually enjoyed the character-driven scenes in which we learned more about Natasha, her family figures – Yelena (Florence Pugh), Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz) – their history and what they’ve been through. I liked how the revelations played out – the information wasn’t to fed to us all at once, we slowly had to piece it together to understand what had happened to them.

This is the film Johansson finally deserves after 10 years in the MCU and it is a solid – but not perfect – way for her to bow out (if that is a spoiler for anyone, you should perhaps watch Avengers: Endgame). She is awesome in the lead role but is often outshone by her co-stars who have more personality and comedic moments, especially Pugh as Yelena. They have a great rapport with each other though and felt very convincing as ‘sisters’.

Pugh is a scene stealer in everything she’s in and that is no exception here. Yelena is funny, charming, and kicks ass but is also dealing with a lot of hurt and resentment and she shows her emotions more openly than Natasha. Then there’s also Harbour, who was perfectly cast as his character and absolutely hilarious. It was great to see Weisz in a Marvel movie and it’s a shame she’s not in it more. These three have Russian accents and they’re rather inconsistent, particularly with Weisz.

Cate Shortland, the first female filmmaker to direct an MCU film solo, has done a terrific job giving us a solid superhero movie-slash-espionage thriller that has more meat on its bones than you’d expect and delivers on both action and character fronts. It doesn’t break the mould for MCU movies all that much, but it’s another successful instalment. Make sure you stay and watch the post-credits scene – it’s an important one!

In cinemas from Wednesday 7th July and on Disney+ (for a premium fee) from Friday 9th July

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July in film: My recommendations

Black Widow

©Marvel Studios 2021

It’s the start of July so that means it’s time to take a look at what’s coming out this month!

I have been excited to see this film for more than a year and I’m thrilled it’s finally coming out in the UK. It’s a gender-bending body-swap comedy starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn as a high school girl and serial killer who swap bodies. It’s very funny and really gory and seeing Vaughn playing a teenage girl brought me so much joy. In cinemas from Friday 2nd July.

Another Round
This Danish movie rightly won the Best International Feature Film Oscar earlier this year. Mads Mikkelsen is fantastic in this comedy-drama, about a group of friends and teachers who experiment with varying blood alcohol levels throughout their workday. This film has one of the best endings in recent memory. Read my review here. In cinemas from 2nd July.

Black Widow
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Marvel movie to watch on the big screen! I’m very excited by the fact cinema has recovered enough for it to happen! This standalone movie is led by Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and explores what she got up to between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. In cinemas from 7th July and on Disney+ from 9th July.

Gunpowder Milkshake
To be honest, I don’t know exactly what Gunpowder Milkshake is about because I avoided the trailer but all I need to know is that it’s an action-thriller starring Lena Headey and Karen Gillan as hitwomen. Sign me up! They are supported by more kickass assassins played by Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino and Michelle Yeoh. Hell yeah! In cinemas from 14th July.

M. Night Shymalan‘s latest thriller looks wild. A family go for a day out at a secluded beach which somehow causes them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. I can’t wait to find out the explanation for this. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie and more. Shymalan’s recent work hasn’t blown me away but this looks so intriguing. In cinemas from 23rd July.

Jungle Cruise
Another movie based on a Disney theme park ride, this action-adventure stars Dwayne Johnson as a steamboat captain who agrees to guide a British scientist and her reluctant brother – Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall – on their mission into the jungle to find the Tree of Life. This looks like great fun. In cinemas and Disney+ from 30th July.

The Suicide Squad

I’m excited to see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn again tbh! This sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad follows a group of imprisoned convicts – some familiar, some new – who are sent to destroy a Nazi-era prison and lab. The trailer for this movie, directed by James Gunn, is awesome so I have high hopes. Robbie is joined by the likes of Idris Elba, Joel Kinnaman and John Cena. In cinemas 30th July.