13th Sep2021

‘Black Widow’ Blu-ray Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Olga Kurylenko | Written by Eric Pearson | Directed by Cate Shortland

After making her debut in the MCU 11 years ago in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff finally gets her own stand alone film in Black Widow. Now that the time has come for that film however, I can’t help but feel it’s too little, too late, as even in her own film Natasha takes a back seat to new, more exciting characters.

Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) Natasha Romanoff finds herself on the run as the Avengers are no longer together. While hiding out her old life catches up to her and she’s thrown back into the world of Russian spies and super soldiers. We get to see the life Natasha once had in the films opening sequence followed by the strongest and best opening credits I’ve seen from a Marvel film. In the films opening we find out Natasha once lived as part of a Russian sleeper cell, where the makeshift family posed as your regular American family in the 1990s. Now years later the family are back together to take down the sinister red room, an organisation Natasha thought she’d destroyed years prior.

Black Widow‘s strength lies in its new characters and the interactions between them. It’s becoming a theme of the Marvel movies that it’s not the action or the set pieces we go to see these films for, unlike franchises like Mission Impossible or Fast and Furious, instead the reason we see these films is because of the characters. Marvel has again done such a great job in the casting and writing of the new stars, as they come onto screen fully formed and fully developed. Natasha’s fake parents are Melinda (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour) who both give strong performances, especially Harbour as the first Soviet super soldier, named “Red Guardian”. He’s holding on to the past a little too much and it plays for some wonderfully comical moments that Harbour handles with expert timing. But it’s Natasha’s little sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) who steals the show. It’s becoming somewhat of a habit of Florence Pugh’s now as time and time again she steals everything she’s involved in, something she proved more than ever in her Oscar nominated performance in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation. The family dynamics these four display lend to some tender moments and some comical moments… all of which were the films highlights.

The biggest flaw Black Widow has is it’s paper thin arc of Natasha, our lead character. It somewhat feels due to the fact we know where her character is after the events of this film, and there’s no room for her to grow or change, there was never a point in Avengers: Infinity War where anyone stopped to ask how Natasha’s character had changed from the last time we saw her. There’s no growth and nothing to learn for her character. When we watch a character on the screen we have to ask ourselves what are their wants? What are their needs? How do these answer effect the world and other characters, and most importantly how does it change our character?

The characters journey in each Marvel film has somewhat been a struggle for the company since the end of phase one. After all, it’s easy to have a character arc in the first Iron Man movie. We have a character that starts off as a self centred billionaire with no cares and end with a superhero, after all origin stories are rather easy to have changes for our characters. After this however the films have struggled to find meaningful and changing arcs for these characters. The only films I think are an exception to this are the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In both installments our main characters go through real change and have real arcs that effect their character and their world. Black Widow again falls into this issue and we never get to see a character change, here it feels like it’s just a chance for her to get her name on a poster.

The character arc that does feel meaningful, however, comes in the form of Yelena – who it now seems is set up perfectly to take over the mantel of Black Widow. As previously said, it’s her character and the performance by Pugh that steals the film for me. She’s shown another talent in an endless toolbox, as she continues to display as her comedic timing is on par with the very best Marvel has offered up so far. It’s no doubt with an actor of her talent that Marvel will tie her down for future films and/or series. The next time we’ll see Pugh reprise the role will be in the Disney+ series Hawkeye which will premier later this year.

There is no doubt fun to be had with Black Widow, however there still feels a lot missing to this one and I can’t seem to shake the feeling that we missed out on so much more from the title character. If anything the film is a great way to get Marvel audiences back into the MCU and say goodbye to an old favourite while introducing some exciting new faces. It’s worth your time for some Marvel fun, but won’t capture you if you’re looking for anything more. And don’t forget to stick around for the mid credit scene.

Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Filmmaker Introduction
  • Feature: Sisters Gonna Work it Out
  • Feature: Go Big If You’re Going Home
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

*** 3/5

Black Widow is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.

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