Entertaining but suffers from Prequelitis 4 Stars

Marvel’s first film in two years since Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow is an entertaining origin story (of sorts) for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff.

Black Widow (2021)
Released: 09 Jul 2021
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 134 min
Director: Cate Shortland
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour
Writer(s): Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, Ned Benson
Plot: Natasha Romanoff confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: 67

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 7.1 DD+:Spanish 7.1 DD+, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 13 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 09/14/2021
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4/5

On the run as a fugitive for violating the Sokovia Accords after the conclusion of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff has been able to stay several steps ahead of Secretary Ross (William Hurt) and elude capture. Hiding out in Norway, her supplier Rick Mason (O-T Fagbenle) hands over her belongings she left behind at her safehouse on Budapest. One of the items is a case sent to her by her “sister” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) that contains vials of a synthetic gas that neutralizes the mind control agent that General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) uses to control his team of Black Widows he has trained in the Red Room. Natasha heads back to Budapest to find Yelena, but their reunion is interrupted by Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) and a team of Black Widows. The two escape, and realize they need to find out where the Red Room is located in order to free the Black Widows and take down Dreykov once and for all. Along the way, they will be reunited by their “father” Alexei (David Harbour), aka The Red Guardian, and “mother” Melina (Rachel Weisz).

As stated above, Black Widow takes place within the MCU timeline after the events in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, but along the way touches on Natasha’s backstory. It’s not quite the origin film many fans were expecting, instead filling in the gaps in her character between those two films. As a spy thriller, the movie works fairly well, and the dysfunctional “family” (they were placed together undercover in the US during the 1990s to steal intelligence from S.H.I.E.L.D.) elements help to bring some much needed humor to the story. Black Widow does fall into the traps of a prequel though, putting our heroine in constant danger and peril that never feel life-threatening, since we know she will survive in the end in order to appear in the next movie in the timeline. Johansson is perfect as Natasha, a role she has played for ten years and ten films, starting with Iron Man 2. The film is something of a passing of the gauntlet to Florence Pugh, who is set to reprise her role as Yelena in the Disney+ series Hawkeye this November. Harbour and Weisz have some fun moments as the would-be parents, and Winstone is menacing while never quite going over the top. The action sequences are fine, never boring but not exactly spectacular. This is a good Marvel film, but not a great one.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Black Widow was captured in primarily 8K and 6K resolution with some high-speed shots in 4K on various cameras by Panavision, Red, and Sony, then completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 1.90:1 aspect ratio for IMAX and 2.39:1 for standard theatrical presentations with Dolby Vision HDR for premium engagements. Disney’s HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer for this UHD disc release retains the 2.39:1 aspect ratio throughout, utilizing HDR10 high dynamic range. The image is ultra sharp, providing rich detail throughout, from facial features to fabric textures to peeling paint on the walls. Contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail, giving the film a nice sense of depth. Colors are bold and vivid without appearing overly saturated.

Audio: 5/5

The default Dolby Atmos track is a real treat. It’s a quiet track when it needs to be, then an immersive demo-worthy track during the action sequences. LFE is on full display during those action sequences, particularly the big finale during explosions and rustling wind. Sounds are placed perfectly and move seamlessly throughout the listening/viewing area. A very pleasant surprise for a Disney release.

Special Features: 3/5

As expected with most Disney UHD disc releases, the UHD disc contains no extras whatsoever. All of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray edition of the film.

Introduction by Director Cate Shortland (1080p; 0:57): The director quickly discusses what her goals for the movie were. Unfortunately, this is buried in the play submenu on the Blu-ray edition and can only be played with the movie.

Sisters Gonna Work It Out (1080p; 5:24): A look at the two “sisters” and their relationship with each other.

Go Big If You’re Going Home (1080p; 8:50): A brief look at the making of the film.

Gag Reel (1080p; 2:54)

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 14:11): Nine scenes are included – Grocery Shopping, Bike Chase, Gulag Fight, Smile, Come After Me, Walk and Talk, Widows in Training, Kiss and Ohio.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a UHD digital copy of the film on Movies Anywhere, which also includes the EPK featurettes You’ve Been Waiting For This (0:53), You Got A Plan? (1:03), and Cooking with Gas (1:52).

Overall: 4/5

Black Widow, while being a stand alone film with some origin roots for Natasha Romanoff, plays more like a James Bond or Mission: Impossible film than a traditional Marvel superhero film, yet the perils Natasha is placed in aren’t as suspenseful since we know what the outcome is beforehand. Presentation on UHD disc is excellent.

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Published by

Todd Erwin

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Jeff Adkins

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I think you mean Marvel's first film since Spider-Man: Far From Home?
 
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Mike Frezon

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I think you both mean Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog. 👿
:laugh:

I gave up on the Marvel Universe a long time ago.

I am intrigued by this part of the Todd's review:

Black Widow, while being a stand alone film with some origin roots for Natasha Romanoff, plays more like a James Bond or Mission: Impossible film than a traditional Marvel superhero film, yet the perils Natasha is placed in aren’t as suspenseful since we know what the outcome is beforehand. Presentation on UHD disc is excellent.
It sounds like I might be able to enjoy this as a stand alone film--with Scarlett front and center--and there is the added bonus of not knowing anything about the character of Back Widow. And I love the M:I and Bond films. :D
 

dpippel

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Yep.....too many "Home" titles. I hope they abandon that with the next film!

Spider-Man: Home Alone
Spider-Man: The Voyage Home
Spider-Man: I'll Be Home for Christmas
Spider-Man: Sweet Home Alabama
Spider-Man: Homeward Bound
Spider-Man: Fly Away Home
Spider-Man: A Prairie Home Companion
Spider-Man: Home Fries
Spider-Man: Home for the Holidays
Spider-Man: Stealing Home
Spider-Man: Home on the Range
Spider-Man: Home Again

...and the list goes on.
 

Todd Erwin

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RolandL

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I'll get the 3D version -https://www.amazon.co.jp/Black-Widow-4K-and-3D-Blu-ray/dp/B09C22ZV9B?tag=bluraycom-22&linkCode=xm2&m=AN1VRQENFRJN5
 

Josh Steinberg

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I'd like to, as well, but I'm not sure it's worth $70-80 to me for this film.

I held my nose and did it. The deciding factor for me is that every April I rewatch the entirety of the MCU films so if it’s something I’ll watch once a year, that’s enough viewing to justify the price. I love having that Marvel 3D marathon each year.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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It sounds like I might be able to enjoy this as a stand alone film--with Scarlett front and center--and there is the added bonus of not knowing anything about the character of Back Widow. And I love the M:I and Bond films. :D
While there are copious references to the other MCU movies, everything you need to know to enjoy the plot and story of this one is explained within this one.

It's not like jumping on board with Endgame, where you'd be totally lost if you hadn't seen all of the films that came before it.
 

Sam Favate

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I watched the movie again this weekend on blu-ray and very much enjoyed it. I agree with whomever said that it would've been great if it somehow could have come out right after Civil War. Next time I do a Marvel rewatch, that's where it's going.
 

smithbrad

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I watched the movie again this weekend on blu-ray and very much enjoyed it. I agree with whomever said that it would've been great if it somehow could have come out right after Civil War. Next time I do a Marvel rewatch, that's where it's going.
I watched the first half of the Marvel movies as they were released on disk. Then I decided to just wait until all were released. Once I had them all I followed an online recommendation and watched them all according to the period time line. I very much enjoyed them this way. I'll watch BW when I get it, but moving forward I think I'll stick to the period time line over the studio production time line. To save space, I found some covers that allowed me to store the disks in multiple 10 disk blu-ray cases. I even have them stored in period time line order in the cases for easier next viewing.