Black Widow (a review)

The movie theatres have been doing their best to get our flighty, panicky butts back in seats lately. Wump and I obliged them, with the always wonderful assistance of Mr. Bloom and his Cinemaland Contacts, to go and check out the long-awaited Black Widow movie.

Well, I say “long-awaited” … it was delayed a bunch, and I guess some people have been waiting for it? Hell of a movie to leave hanging after Spider-Man: Far From Home and a Hell of a movie to be the first one viewers see when they finally come back to the theatres … I don’t know. I mean at least Covid didn’t hit between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, am I right?

At the same time, this cost plenty of money and made plenty of money, so the idea that the pandemic might usher in a new era of smaller movies … I suppose remains to be seen. Big budget blockbusters seem to be here to stay though, because looks like we still have money to throw at Disney.

Anyway, there’s a ton of analysis about the logistics of movies and money and all that, elsewhere. Scarlett Johansson suing for loss of revenue and so on. It’s all very complicated, but forgive me if my heart doesn’t exactly bleed for anyone making seven figures right now. It’s tough all over, lady. You did a great job and deserve to get paid, no argument from me. Thank you, and Disney, for the entertainment that allowed us to take our minds off our problems for a little while.

Yeah, I don’t honestly care. I just wanted to sit down with a great big overpriced soda and a soggy cheeseburger with my friends and my firstborn and watch a movie at last. Really didn’t care which one it was. Indeed, a lot of people opted to just watch this one on Disney+ anyway, and I can’t say I blame them. The world (and this movie) being what it is.

I will focus on the movie itself though, which was … ehh, it was fine. If you go to the cinema to have a good time, see some cool stunts and special effects and explosions, listen to a few sassy quips, see the heroes face off against some nice unambiguous bad guys and win, then this is it. You’ve arrived. You want a Marvel movie.

And that’s basically exactly what I wanted, so I’m pretty happy.

Yes, we all know Black Widow is dead. I mean, it’s possible to bring her back using some kind of Gamora-esque time travel trick (mind you, would the Time Variance Authority have something to say about that? Maybe that’s where Gamora vanished to at the end of Endgame), but I get the feeling they’re not going to. Her sister, uh, Also Black Widow, is going to take over. That’s cool, she was fun.

And Red Guardian and Melina Vostokoff have given me hope that one day the Hatboys might be able to cosplay the entire Widow family, or at least that Mrs. Hatboy might get a black catsuit. Look, a man can dream, alright?

All three of them already know how to look at me like this when I say something stupid. We’re basically there already.

So, between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War there was a period of time where Black Widow went off and had an adventure. At least the absence of the other Avengers is sort of explained. Her strange past, and the many allusions she and Hawkeye make to Budapest, are finally explained a little bit. And the spy school where the Black Widow was trained, and the fact that she was sterilised as part of it, are ruined and turned into a really uncomfortable joke, respectively. But whatever. Bad guy gets beaten up.

Fun fact, did you know Budapest was named when three separate towns – Buda, Óbuda, and Pest – were unified in the 19th Century? Imagine living in a town called Pest. I bet they were only included because otherwise the place would have been called Buda O’Buda, and that was even sillier. But I digress. A lot. On purpose, actually.

Me attempting to ride this blog post to the ground while it breaks apart around me.

So there was some cool stuff that maybe has implications for future movies. Certainly the inclusion of Elaine from Seinfeld means something, she’s probably going to be the next big (mortal) bad for cinema-goers to be like “why are these hyper-powerful demigods even worrying about this almost literal ant (no not you Antony)?” about. She already has at least one super-soldier as of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier so I suppose she could be a threat.

And the addition of a whole army of Black Widows on some side or other will give some sweating Disney scriptwriters an easy out or two whenever things look bleak. Not to mention Red Guardian needing to explain who the fuck he rassled with in the 1980s. Currently my favourite theory is that he met the version of Captain America who went back to Peggy and then lived to become an old man, but the multiverse makes everything possible.

I just … look. I don’t know. This was fine. Loki was better. Captain Marvel was better. I’m glad Black Widow got at least one stand-alone movie at last, but frankly I think both she and Also Black Widow deserve a whole franchise of James Bond-esque (mortal-ish) spy action movies all their own. I’d watch them.

And Wump is still firmly of the opinion that Hawkeye should have been the one to die on Vormir because (her words) “who cares that he has a family?”

She is … unburdened by extraneous sentiment.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the next Marvel movie, and hoping there’s explosions and sassy quips. I give Black Widow three and a half Pests and a “Welcome to Óbuda, You Can’t Choose Your Neigbours” sign out of a possible Budapest.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy. https://hatboy.blog/2013/12/17/metalude-who-are-creepy-and-hatboy/
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39 Responses to Black Widow (a review)

  1. Toon says:

    That child will go far.
    Well you know me and my non existent screen attention span so have I seen Black Widow or any of the movies you mention in that post? Aah…. nup. Not a one.
    BUT the Toons did celebrate the ability to go back to a movie theatre last year with a trip to the movie theatre just for the hell of it, and our celebratory choice of movie was The Dry. We all found it quite excellent and even I watched the whole thing through with something akin to riveted attention. That’s as close to a rave review as I’m capable of giving.

  2. aaronthepatriot says:

    “who cares that he has a family?”

    ‘Well first of all that’s HORRIBLE….’ LOL

    No, fair play there, although he’s only a terrible murderer now because he lost his family, and she used to be every bit as horrible. Honestly you know I was annoyed by that whole set of scenes on Vormir. Now that I’ve rewatched about 8 times (not kidding) I have learned to kind of tune out, and mock it as it’s going on especially if anyone else is there with me. But yeah. Just one of you please die so everyone else can live thanks.

    This review is about what I expected. Damn I miss movies but I’m going to wait…as long as it takes. We’re starting to have date nights, but only eating outside when possible (and it usually is although this really nice place last week we had to be indoors), and I’m not sure I consider a movie valuable enough of an experience to sit there and stew with the unvaxxed morons in my country, but there you go. Still waiting on the money from our house sale, and there’s a of work to do here and a potential great home theater possible in the basement so I’m not missing much. I also don’t think there’s been many good movies during the pandemic, and this looks like no exception.

    More later, I guess. I can barely focus on anything besides the house shit right now, and it gets harder every day.

  3. Pingback: Jungle Cruise (a review) | Hatboy's Hatstand

  4. ohilya says:

    Fun fact: the only nearly-native Russophone speaker in this whole movie is the guy giving Red Guardian a tattoo. As in: the guy who doesn’t talk *at all* in the few scenes he’s in.

    That’s right. Not a single native Russian speaker. I checked.

    I winced during this movie. Frequently.

    I still don’t know what the HELL Harbour was yelling whenever he tried to speak what sounded like Russian after it had been muffled by a heavy dose of duct tape and repeatedly kicked in the nether regions.

    Florence Pugh? She said a few things that were remotely in the direction of sounding correct, but they were easy to say words, and she only had to utter a few of them. As in, one or two words here and there.

    The rest of the cast were…worse. Everyone was…worse. When it came to saying or speaking or behaving like Russians. A friend of Serbian descent said that Harbour reminded her of her grandfather, so I’ll give him some points there.

    Otherwise?

    The first half lis a confused Bourne movie and the second half is The CGI Extravaganza Accidentally Featuring a Staggeringly Confused Ray Winstone in the Wrong Movie.

    Thor 2 was better than this half-baked mess. And of course Lorne “never found a score I couldn’t reduce to abject noise with my Media Venture-trained “talents” courtesy of Hans Zimmer’s remote control” Balfe was hired to smash instruments together and call it “music”.

    Iron Man 2 was better than this confused mess of genres.

    Oh sure, it passes the Bechdel Test, but for what, a low-calorie Big Mac of a movie? This is the ultimate Diet Coke Zero of MCU movies. …After it’s been left to sit out in the sun with the cap off, getting warm and flat.

    Feh.

    • Hatboy says:

      Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 were just plain good movies, though. I mean, they’re weak in comparison to some Marvel offerings, but yeah. They’re fine.

      I can’t say I care much about USians butchering Russian, it’s been going on too long for me to pretend to have grown a conscience about it in the past month. But I’ll see your “all the non-Russians in this movie” and raise you “every time a USian has tried to be a fucking Australian, ever.” Maybe that will begin to explain why I give so few fucks?

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      I haven’t seen Black Widow but what Ilya said right there. Yeah. That.

      • Hatboy says:

        Aye, I tend to agree. I would have watched anything, since the movie wasn’t really the point … and I guess ultimately that’s what I got. Literally anything, in movie form.

    • dreameling says:

      Man, I kinda love Lorne Balfe. His scores for, for example, M:I:Fallout and CoD: Modern Warfare 2 are awesome.

      • dreameling says:

        Didn’t really know of the guy before Fallout, though. Even thought the MW2 score was by Zimmer (as he got the sole credit in the release I have).

      • ohilya says:

        Of all the M:I composers, no one’s done a better job than Joe Kramer. His work on Rogue Nation remains the bar to top.

      • dreameling says:

        Kramer has never hit my radar that hard. I’ll check the RN OST, though.

      • ohilya says:

        I have every M:I score ever released and am a junkie for the series, and of all the scores, his was the most consistent, with wonderful references and allusions made to the original TV series all over the place.

      • dreameling says:

        I’m a fan of the series, for sure, but before “Fallout”, the scores never truly hit me like (subjectively) superb scores usually do. 1 & 2 had some good stuff in them, and the M:I espionage/thriller melodies have always rubbed me the right way, absolutely, but the scores have never hit my Must Have OST shelf.

        Movie & TV music is my favorite genre of music, so it’s a big shelf.

      • Hatboy says:

        I’m just going to go ahead and leave this here.

      • dreameling says:

        That song fucking rocks. Still. The video, not so much. 🙂

      • dreameling says:

        The Rogue Nation score was really good, better than what I remembered from the (excellent) movie. Very operatic and classically symphonic. Lots of nice callbacks to and montages of earlier cues (especially in “The A400” and “Finale and Curtain Call”, which felt like Best Of mashups). Arguably subtler stuff than the more bombastic Fallout score, but I just like well-done bombastic. The Fallout score also reads more emotional and character-driven to me, which I like, whereas the Rogue Nation score feels more purely a “plot” score, if that makes sense.

    • dreameling says:

      Pretty sure Olga Kurylenko is native or near-native Russian speaker. (Hilariously, she gets like one line.)

      • ohilya says:

        You are correct, and I just found video of her speaking Russian, albeit with an accent not dissimilar from mine (due to growing up outside the country).

        But that she gets one line is just gross.

        The passive Russophobia in this movie annoys the shit out of me.

      • Hatboy says:

        You are correct, and I just found video of her speaking Russian, albeit with an accent not dissimilar from mine (due to growing up outside the country).

        But that she gets one line is just gross.

        The passive Russophobia in this movie annoys the shit out of me.

        Disney knows that Islamophobia is a) bad for business and b) punching down for the specific countries they’ve been making into bad guys since the end of the Cold War, so Russia is back on the menu I guess.

        I mean, I guess Natasha Romanov’s origins would by necessity have Russia / Russians be a villain anyway, but there were other ways to handle it. Hell, maybe I should review the movie this one should have been too.

      • ohilya says:

        Please do. Pretty please.

      • Hatboy says:

        Please do. Pretty please.

        Damn it man, that was just an idle comment! I don’t have time to re-tell the origin story of Natasha Romanov as a dark sister-story to Black Swan, which reveals that Jane Foster is also a survivor of the Red Room training program and has been attempting to take the Black Widow spy / assassin / ballet school interdimensional, and actually connects to Widows across the multiverse! Who has time for that? Not me. And not Gamora, whose planet was saved from pelvic sorcery when Thanos killed half of the population and incidentally wiped out the program and that’s why Gamora doesn’t dance.

      • Hatboy says:

        Literally seventeen seconds’ thought.

        *quite proud actually*

      • ohilya says:

        I think you just, uh, well, did.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Any thoughts from y’all on Scarlett’s lawsuit against Disney over compensation for Black Widow? It seems her lawyers are arguing Disney “deliberately” released the movie simultaneously in theater and on streaming to “purposefully” reduce the money she would make from the contract, which is based on revenue.

        Seems a bit paranoid, I mean there is a pandemic after all. On the other hand, because of that, I think I support her getting a modification to the way she is compensated. I just found the accusation absurd…a little denialist, maybe?

        No love for Disney from me, this is not about that.

      • Hatboy says:

        Any thoughts from y’all on Scarlett’s lawsuit against Disney over compensation for Black Widow? It seems her lawyers are arguing Disney “deliberately” released the movie simultaneously in theater and on streaming to “purposefully” reduce the money she would make from the contract, which is based on revenue.

        Seems a bit paranoid, I mean there is a pandemic after all. On the other hand, because of that, I think I support her getting a modification to the way she is compensated. I just found the accusation absurd…a little denialist, maybe?

        No love for Disney from me, this is not about that.

        Beyond my original paragraph[1] in the post, I basically agree with you on this one. She would have made a lot more if this was the good old days and everyone was going to the movies. Would she have gotten more if the movie was not streamed? What that means is, would a significant number of people who streamed, have gone to the cinema instead if it hadn’t been available? I don’t know. I would guess a not-insignificant number would have. I think an even more significant number of people just wouldn’t have watched it at all, and Disney would have lost tens of millions. So yeah, they did kind of screw her by not giving her a respectful wedge of the streaming pie, given that this movie is basically dragging MCU fans back to the teat … but I wouldn’t want to go up against Disney lawyers on the fine-print of that.

        [1] Anyway, there’s a ton of analysis about the logistics of movies and money and all that, elsewhere. Scarlett Johansson suing for loss of revenue and so on. It’s all very complicated, but forgive me if my heart doesn’t exactly bleed for anyone making seven figures right now. It’s tough all over, lady. You did a great job and deserve to get paid, no argument from me. Thank you, and Disney, for the entertainment that allowed us to take our minds off our problems for a little while.

      • Hatboy says:

        Pretty sure Olga Kurylenko is native or near-native Russian speaker. (Hilariously, she gets like one line.)

        Oh yeah, that reminds me I forgot to mention another plot point!

        I didn’t really mind this particular point, I thought it was kind of fun. And cool to have a villain / antihero / hero who might just make another appearance. As to that same character from the comics, I’ve seen them in a couple of Deadpool comics and this one was something of a divergence from that (nay, perhaps even an X-Men Origins: Wolverine Deadpool level divergence, as has already been pointed out by many fans and commentators?), but I was mainly just happy to see it. There’ll be room for improvement later.

        Hey, look at that. Non-gender-specific singular they pronoun use. Found yet another important purpose for it.

      • dreameling says:

        You really should get with the program and fully embrace the singular “they”! It’s so convenient and of course perfectly grammatically correct. We codified it in our tech writing style guide already back in 2016. (Back when there was still a “we”.)

      • Hatboy says:

        Sorry if I gave the impression that I wasn’t embracing it? It took me a while but I got there in the end.

      • dreameling says:

        Nah, I just vaguely recalled a discussion way way back where you said you weren’t quite comfortable with the singular “they” yet (or something to that effect) and I made that my unspoken touchpoint. I’m sure that’s not the case anymore.

      • Hatboy says:

        People grow, man. People grow.

        ;-D

      • dreameling says:

        I was about to make an old age joke, but then decided that’s so old.

      • dreameling says:

        Oh god, that’s bad.

      • Hatboy says:

        Well as long as you know I made the “singular they” reference specifically for you, we know the love is still there no matter how old we get.

  5. ohilya says:

    At least the movie led to this amusing montage featuring Florence being amusing.

  6. dreameling says:

    Man, Wump looks so… kind and innocent.

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