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Hall reviews Black Widow
Black widow

This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be reviewing Scarlett Johansson in what her life was like before and after she became an Avenger in "Black Widow."

Black Widow marks the first MCU movie in two years and it pretty much follows in the tradition of the other 20-something movies in this series: Huge special effects sequences, complex character development, zippy one-liners, and the post-credit scene that hints for more installments to come.

So, does Black Widow measure up to the best MCU has given us? Not quite.

Of course, Scarlett Johansson is back as the sexy but dangerous Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in this semi-prequel and picking up during the middle of the events of Captain America: Civil War.

We get the backstory on Romanoff as a Russian girl living in Ohio with her family who are having to flee after her father Alexia Shostakov, aka the Red Guardian (David Harbour) steals intel from S.H.I.E.L.D. Rachel Weisz costars as his wife Melina, a former Black Widow. She also has a sister named Yelena.

They arrive in Cuba where Alexia's boss, Dreykov (Ray Winstone) puts both Natasha and Yelena through training to become Black Widows themselves in his organization known as the Red Room. Natasha defects from the Red Room and joins S.H.I.E.L.D. We all know where her story goes from here.

Years later, Natasha reconnects with Yelena (Florence Pugh from Little Women) and the two are hoping to rejoin forces to save their parents who are being held hostage by the Red Room.

What I've like about the majority of the MCU movies were the way that they were able to combine superhero spectacles and yet give us something that didn't feel monotonous by the end. Black Widow is less interested in breaking that mold and spends more time on giving us a barely coherent plot and not establishing characters that are unique or memorable.

I also feel like the action sequences were standard MCU fare where nothing felt like anything was at stake.

Johansson has shined before as this character, but in previous movies she brings a sense of depth and poignancy that is puzzlingly missing in this movie. Plus, some of the characters are such as her parents feel one-note despite Harbour's attempt at comic relief. Even he can't pull it off with such mediocre material.

Black Widow might be passable for those who are undemanding, but knowing what the MCU is capable of, we should expect more and better. I just hope they don't go down the same road that some of the more recent Star Wars or Fast and Furious movies are doing.

Grade: B-

(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material.)

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