Black Widow leads to hope of more strong female characters

By Andrew McManus and Kasie McCreary - Movie Review

It feels like it’s been years since our last Marvel movie. Looking back and it actually HAS. The last Marvel film we reviewed was Spiderman: Far From Home in 2019 (3 ½ stars) so I was EXCITED.

If you’re a fan of these films you probably know this is the 24th movie in that universe. I can’t believe there has been that many! I also remember when this film was first talked about I wasn’t sure if it was even needed, or would be any good. Another cookie-cutter superhero movie?

Before we dive in the web of action (Black widow….get it?) I wanted to touch on Portsmouth Cinema. I spoke with the GM Brandy and one of the staff members named Megan. I asked them both if they’ve noticed an uptick in customers with mask mandates being lifted and more of our population being vaccinated. They both said yes!!! So much that they have been doing open interviews. So if you’re looking for a job PLEASE CALL IN!

On another note, Megan was extremely friendly and said and quote “I LOVE WORKING HERE.” Thanks Megan! We also have another exciting edition in we had a guest co-reviewer this week. A friend had reached out a few weeks ago commenting on my reviews. I have at least one reader it seems! She (Kasie) is a writer as well, and I thought of a neat element for this week’s review. She’s not a Marvel fan (told me after she usually hates them) I obviously am. So we both watched the film and she gave me a blurb to include on her spin on things.

Onto the film.

Surprisingly, we open in OHIO? In 1995. We meet Alexei Shostakov (Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Weisz) on the run. They have a surrogate family (Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova) and are attempting to flee as the information both were trying to steal has been retrieved. Immediately a chase ensues and the tension takes off. Buckle up!!! I was invested. Kasie…not so much. I tried my best to not spoil anything from past movies both for you and for her, but I immediately noticed some of the CGI wasn’t great. Surprising for a Marvel movie. They rush to a plane and as they all are about to leave the young girls are taken to be trained in the RED ROOM. Ominous I know.

We cut to 21 years later. Romanoff (Johansson) is the Black Widow we have known from previous films and given the timeline of when this takes place she’s on the run from the authorities. While this is going on we see Belova (Pugh) is also a Black Widow and hunting down rogue agents.

In an ensuing fight she gets hit with a red glass? (This comes into play later.) Without giving more of the plot away the “family” meets up. They want to free the other Widows and need all the help available to find the RED ROOM and free everyone. Also Romanoff wants to finish a job from long ago and take out Dreykov (Winstone) who oversees the training of Black Widows and took her and Belova as children.

We have fights scenes throughout with various “big bads” and some work and others fall flat. I lost count of the enemies defeated but it came off as a fight scene just to have a fight scene at times. They were fun to see though! I kept noting that the CGI was hit or miss. I took me out of the movie every time. However, each chase scene was GREAT. The score adds to tension going from point A to point B and you have somber tones during emotional scenes. We also travel to different places all over the world and the score adds to the environment (Russian-themed music in St. Petersburg for example.)

The cast works for the most part. I felt the villains were EXTREMELY cookie-cutter, but the spotlight is really on Romanoff (Johannson) and Belova (Pugh) My biggest complaint was the CGI not being consistent. This doesn’t take away from a fun experience. I’ll have my rating at the end but first I wanted to give an excerpt from Kasie:

“In the case of Black Widow, I could flex my academic muscle and prattle endlessly about how the most realistically attainable action sequence for us everyday citizens lies not within any car chase or bare-knuckle brawl with a masked adversary, but rather within the titular character’s secondary quest to heal generational trauma within her chosen family. I could speak about how the nuanced and complex growth of the female action hero shines front and center in a way which is wildly entertaining and, in my view, tremendously successful

toward the film’s overall message of strength springing forth from weakness, insecurity, or even frailty. I could even speak to how watching Black Widow as the mother of two strong, courageous daughters gives me hope that the female characters they see on the screen will become more diverse, accessible, and human—despite their superhuman strengths. However, Andrew and I have only just become friends, and I won’t overstay the generous welcome which he has kindly extended into his column this week.

Instead, I will simply offer that Black Widow—at the risk of leaning into cliché—truly is a film that will attract film lovers of differing interests, ages, backgrounds, and attention spans. At the end of the day, most of us heroically face the hardships shared by the film’s main cast of players; rather than a smoldering battlefield surrounded by twisted metal and wreckage, ours are often faced at our own strained family dinner tables. Black Widow reminds its viewers in no uncertain terms that they are strong enough to overcome either. Oh, and yes: it also reminds us that women are ready, once and for all, for clothing that comes with ample, deep pockets. We have things to do, after all, and a lot to carry. From this Marvel novice, 4/5 stars.”

She’s a GREAT writer. You get a deeper look into a film from her, I’m giving you the popcorn comments. It’s fun. It’s loud. There are great fight scenes! Regardless we both have come to the same conclusion. If you’re a fan or even a novice go see this film. 4 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus and Kasie McCreary

Movie Review