Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A QUIET PLACE PART II
ANOTHER ROUND
BINGEABLE: 100 FOOT WAVE (2021-)
BINGEABLE: BARRY (2018-)
BINGEABLE: CLICKBAIT
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG (2016-2019)
BINGEABLE: SWEET TOOTH
BINGEABLE: THE WHITE LOTUS
BINGEABLE: TITANS (2018-)
BLACK WIDOW
BLAST FROM THE PAST: CARRIE (1976)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX (1999)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BOSS LEVEL
CANDYMAN
CRY MACHO
GUILTY PLEASURE: BACHELOR IN PARADISE (2014-)
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
GUILTY PLEASURES: GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE
GUILTY PLEASURES: JOLT
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM (1996)
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
IRRESISTIBLE
LIMBO
MISHA AND THE WOLVES (2021)
NEW FLICKS: BLOOD RED SKY
NEW FLICKS: CODA
NEW FLICKS: COPSHOP
NEW FLICKS: CRUELLA
NEW FLICKS: REMINISCENCE
NEW FLICKS: SWEET GIRL
NEW FLICKS: THE SUICIDE SQUAD
NEW FLICKS: VAL (2021)
NINE DAYS
NO SUDDEN MOVE
PIG
ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN (2021)
SOUL
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)
THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER (2020)
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE NEW MUTANTS
THE PAPER TIGERS
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
TV REVIEW: A WILDERNESS OF ERROR (2020)
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES (2021)
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: MARE OF EASTTOWN
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: TED LASSO (2020-)
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL (2020)
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: TREADSTONE (2019)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WANDAVISION
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE KINGDOM (2007)

‘Black Widow’ is action-packed spectacle with a touch of soul

BLACK WIDOW

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF DISNEY PLUS AND MARVEL STUDIOS

BLACK WIDOW


Where is it playing?: Regal Edwards RPX Santa Maria, Movies Lompoc, Regal Edwards Arroyo Grande, Fair Oaks Arroyo Grande, Disney Plus Premier Access

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Cate Shortland (Lore, Berlin Syndrome) directs this film about Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow. The story takes place chronologically after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) but before Romanoff’s death in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Romanoff is on the run, forced to deal with a conspiracy with ties to her past as a spy. To fight the forces aligned to bring her down, she must deal with her broken relationships with her family members, sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), and mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). (133 min.)

Glen: This film is admittedly a guilty pleasure—outlandish and unrealistic—but a helluva fun ride! It begins with a flashback of young sisters Natasha (Ever Anderson) and Yelena (Violet McGraw) living the American dream in Ohio with their parents when their father, Alexei, “gets the call.” Turns out they’re Russian sleeper agents meant to return to the motherland while the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are in hot pursuit. It’s a great opening set piece! The film’s villain is Dreykov (Ray Winstone), who runs “The Red Room,” a secret facility where “Black Widows”—highly trained female assassins—learn their trade. It was bad enough when they were merely brainwashed, as Natasha and her mother, Melina, were, but Dreykov’s scientists have found chemical means of mind control, rendering his Black Widows completely devoid of free will. The film is an extended adventure as Natasha goes on the hunt for Dreykov with the help of her old “family,” which was never a “real” family, right? One of the film’s ongoing themes is what constitutes family, and that question gives the film its emotional heft. I should be too old for this comic book nonsense, but I have to admit, I love this stuff!

Anna: The string of Marvel films detailing each Avenger’s storyline can feel pretty tired for me personally, but you’re right—this was a pretty fun ride. It is, of course, over the top and wildly silly, but there’s enough humor and kickass action to keep it rolling. Pugh is a nice addition to this superhero world; her Yelena is sarcastic and hardheaded and a great wing-woman for Johansson’s Natasha. It’s still Natasha’s story, but thanks to the cast of their forced family, it comes off as much more of an ensemble piece. The two women use a helicopter to bust Alexei from prison in an epic and very superhero-summer-blockbuster way, with guard towers going down and Natasha swinging wildly around on a rope to scoop him up. You won’t be falling asleep in this one—it’s overstimulation from minute to minute! There will inevitably be another Black Widow film in the future, and at some point I’m sure the storylines and plot will get eye-rollingly bad, but this first film was actually a pretty fun watch—even for someone like me who doesn’t consider themselves a superhero super fan.

Glen: It helps that it’s very funny. The banter between Natasha and Yelena is especially playful in that “I know every button to push” way siblings have with one another. For instance, Yelena makes fun of the way Natasha poses when she’s fighting: “You’re such a poser.” Likewise, Alexei is hilarious in his determination to relive his super-soldier days. “It still fits,” he says after squeezing into his Red Guardian costume. He also thinks he’s the reason for the success of “his girls”: “You both have killed so many people. Your ledgers must be dripping, just gushing red. I couldn’t be more proud of you.” The four of them eventually realize that their three years posing as an American family made them a real family too. “The best part of my life was fake,” Yelena says. Black Widow is something of a villain in other Marvel films—a ruthless and remorseless assassin. Here she’s humanized. If she’s ruthless and remorseless, it’s because Dreykov and his Black Widow programming made her that way. She’s here to save herself, her sister, and all the young girls Dreykov has called “trash” that he’s “recycled” and given “purpose.” Sorry, Dreykov, but not on Natasha’s watch!

Anna: Winstone’s Dreykov is so slimy and gross; he definitely pulls off the role of a hated villain. There’s also a mysterious masked henchman who has the ability to mimic her enemy in combat who we learn has a special vendetta against Natasha. I definitely enjoyed the “family” dynamic between the four characters—from snarky and argumentative sisters to the proud papa whose misplaced pride is odd but endearing and the mother who chides her daughter not to slouch. I know this flick is available through Disney Plus with an upcharge, but a film this heavy on action is meant to be seen on the big screen at least once. I’ve read that execs were so impressed with Pugh that there are plans to bring her into future MCU films, perhaps even as the next Black Widow. I’m here for it—she was a total hit for me! It’s a fun summer superhero flick, a perfect excuse to beat the heat for a couple of hours and hang out in the theater.

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










Weekly Poll
What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
We should focus on funding the police so they can do their job.
Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said,

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