Movie Review: Black Widow


Remember how bad-ass it was when Iron Man ended with the Black Sabbath song of the same name? Part of me was hoping the filmmakers would go with the Towns van Zandt song Black Widow Blues:

I got a black widow spider for mama, Lord/Got a diamond-backed rattler for pa

Well, I got me a woman down in New Orleans/Got a friend in Arkansas

Okay, I guess those lyrics don’t fit this origin story, which shows Natasha enjoying a normal childhood in Ohio, singing instead to songs like American Pie. Since that songwriter, Don McLean, got into trouble for domestic violence, and some of his shows and a UCLA appearance were cancelled after that, I wondered why the filmmakers wouldn’t have Googled him first. Especially after the flak The Joker filmmakers got for using a Gary Glitter song (he’s in jail for molesting children, which was a known fact even before that song was chosen).

But I digress.

Dad (David Harbour) comes home from work, and mom (Rachel Weisz) has prepared dinner. He informs her they have to leave immediately. The kids jump in the car, and soon police are chasing them to the airport, with a shoot-out ensuing. It was a half-way decent chase scene, while all the other chases, explosions, and fights we’d see later in the movie -- weren’t remotely interesting. Sometimes it was bad CGI. Mostly though they were just stupid. And I’m so tired of the bad guys having a Terminator style robot that you can’t defeat (until of course, they’re eventually defeated at the end).

Anyway, Natasha’s family? Turns out they were Russian sleeper agents. They raised the girls to be those Nikita, Salt, Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, Anna, Kick-Ass, style child assassins. Now an adult, Natasha pays a visit to her sister (Florence Pugh, who was so great in Midsommar). That has one of those goofy scenes where they beat the crap out of each other for the first eight minutes of their meeting. 

We find out little girls are kidnapped, brainwashed, trained, and become killer fighting machines that work for Dreykov (Ray Winstone, who is usually so reliable when playing a heavy).

There’s a chemical that can be used on these killing machines that will end the mind control, so the two sisters decide to try and get along in an effort to find the formula.

One of the goofiest things about this movie are all the attempts at humor, and how none of them work. The sisters bickering or complaining about the dad - none of it is funny. Even a bit about the pose that Black Widow does when she lands, never landed. 

And while I didn’t laugh at Red Guardian’s shenanigans, it was a bit of fun to see Harbour having so much fun and camping it up. It’s even fun seeing Harbour on morning shows being interviewed about this movie. One reporter asked him the other day about getting into “superhero shape” to which he replied, “Uh, you haven’t seen the movie, have you?”

Because there’s a running joke about him being so fat from just sitting in prison, he doesn’t fit into his superhero outfit anymore.

So much about this film was derivative and dull. The words on the screen showing us they’re in Norway, or Morocco. Spy films always do this, and it’s idiotic. It was even idiotic when the Queen movie did it to show the various countries the band played. Stop with the names of countries on the screen, filmmakers!!

There are also lots of long, boring conversations that give us backstory. Yet none of it makes us care for any of these characters. I felt worse for the pigs that the mom was experimenting on.

This movie is the worst Marvel has given us. Even worse than that bad Thor flick. It might be slightly better than D.C.’s last Wonder Woman, but that’s not saying much.

Australian director Cate Shortland deserves a lot of the blame for this. As does Scarlett Johansson, who was an executive producer. She had apologized in an interview for how sexualized the Black Widow character was in previous films, and vowed to make this without those elements. She should now apologize for making garbage. For an actress that I loved since first seeing her in Ghost World, and liking her films JoJo Rabbit, Marriage Story, Match Point, Scoop, and Her...I expected more from her.

1 ½ stars out of 5.


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