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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Drama > Adventure > Cold War > Comedy > Black Widow (2021/Marvel/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

Black Widow (2021/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B- Sound: B+ & B Extras: C+ Film: C+

Scarlett Johansson is back yet again as Natasha Romanoff, a former Soviet spy turned member of The Avengers in (and also know as) Black Widow (2021) in this long awaited prequel to all of her other appearances as the character in the Marvel Studios universe series of films to date. Though her character has apparently perished in the current time you read this, this film starts with her as a child decades ago in what was the final years of The Cold War, then joins her in 2015.

After the flashback to help us understand her origins (the film does not wallow on this too much to its credit) as she is on the run after some events around 2015, as are her fellow Avengers. This includes reuniting with the members of her fake Soviet family (parents in a sleeper cell?) posing as an all-American family, for which they get caught. Years later, she is reuniting with her 'sister' (Florence Pugh) and her 'father' (David Harbour, fearless co-star of TV's remarkable Stranger Things) and 'mother' (the always great Rachel Weisz) and bad things continue to follow them.

This includes the heartless head of the Soviet/Russian operation that created all the female Widow agents (Ray Winstone) who wants them dealt with once and for all so he can out his world-domination plans into full action (overthrowing the Russian Government is never considered) and off they all go.

Director Cate Shortland handles the film well enough, though I thought the dramatic scenes dragged out a little more than expected and more than most Marvel films, but the cast has chemistry and Johansson is able to carry the film just fine. One of the top female movie stars worldwide, she is also an excellent actress and when anyone has her commercial success, that talent get underestimated and becomes underrated. She's so use to this role that it just happens and she's always convincing. So what stops the film form being better?

Besides the drama running on a little too much on the 'family' theme, the humor is too obvious and too much (cynical funny Marvel style) and the endless Russian accents that are obviously fake become too much and someone should have thought of a way to make them less repetitive. I found exposition not as good on the storyline as it needed to be and then saw the Deleted Scenes. If half of those were still in the film and the repetitive parts were cut by 10 to 20 minutes, this would have been a much better film. It is almost like someone (or a group of people) were unnecessarily second-guessing the film and that turns out to be a mistake.

Otherwise, it is good moments work as well as expected, though it is conscious that it is also being a spy film, from its Jason Bourne-esque moments to Natasha actually watch the 1979 James Bond hit Moonraker on her laptop (among several Bond connections here) and maybe if it were a little more of a spy film, it would have put it over in a great way. Well, maybe next time, if Johansson gets to return.

Olga Kurylenko and William Hurt also star.

After over 80 years of superhero films, there have been no serials and few TV shows (until recently) with female leads. In feature films, it was not until the well-cast Helen Slater was cast in the 1984 Supergirl that was a dud, but people still liked her very much. Marvel (this film and Captain Marvel) and DC (the Gadot Wonder Woman films) make it only five to date. Despite the recent four films being hits, there is much room for improvement and we'll see which comic book company/studio gets there first. This is still very much worth a look and you can see for yourself what I mean in this release.

The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K disc looks good for the most part and has some nice color to it, though the film was issued in 12-bit Dolby Vision color in select theatrical bookings, this 4K version only has 10-bit color for some reason. Otherwise, it has some fine shots and looks better than the surprisingly dull-at-times 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer offers. Odd it looks so oddly weak, but even at its best, it would not be able to compete with the 4K version.

As for sound, the 4K offers a sometimes very dynamic, lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) that is well recorded, edited and mixed well. More of the film is dialogue (and joke) based, so expect lulls during viewing. The regular Blu-ray only offers a mixdown version of the sound in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1. The 11.1 Atmos on the 4K is the best way to hear it.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the regular Blu-ray adds all the extras, including those Deleted Scenes noted above, a Gag Reel, Filmmaker's Introduction and two behind the scenes featurettes (per the press release, but they are good):

Sisters Gonna Work It Out - Watch Scarlett and Florence as they train, fight, and bond to become the sister duo in ''Black Widow.'' Listen as the cast and crew discuss the characters, rigorous training, and building the dynamic between the two fearsome siblings.

and Go Big If You're Going Home - Step back to appreciate the size and scale of ''Black Widow'''s solo film. Shot around the world, the film balances family and drama with mind-blowing action. The cast and crew reveal the intricacies of stunts that made the film so action-packed.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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