The biggest release for the week is Marvel Studios’ Black Widow. The film is a prequel/origin story in a way. If you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame by now you know what happened to Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) so this film is set after Captain America: Civil War (2016), but before Avengers: Infinity War (2018). It tells the story of what Black Widow was up to when some of The Avengers were on the run after Civil War, provides some backstory for her and also introduces new characters including Red Guardian and Yelena Belova. To me the best part of the film is the cold open with a young Natasha, Yelena, Alexei (Red Guardian) and Melina living in the United States as a “family”. Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz) weren’t their parents nor were the girls sisters, but they pretended to be a normal family until they had to escape back to Russia. That opening is fantastic with Ever Anderson (daughter of Milla Jovovich) as young Natasha. Then there’s the great opening credits with flashbacks to Natasha training in Russia in the Widow program. It jumps to the time frame after Civil War with Natasha’s past catching up to her. She meets up with her “sister” Yelena (Florence Pugh) and needs to break her “father” Alexei out of prison. They think Melina can help solve who’s out to get them all and to figure out how to un-brainwash others in the Widow program. There is some good action, but the film also relies heavily on CGI like all Marvel films now. Harbour steals the film to me and I think they completely wasted The Taskmaster character. Pugh and Johansson have a good back & forth with Pugh mocking what has become of the Black Widow since she joined The Avengers. The final battle is a giant CGI fight as usual and there are a few post-credit scenes that hint at future projects. The film did well at the box office considering the pandemic and people being able to rent it at home as well. It does feel like a bit of a filler episode with Pugh’s Yelena being the only really important piece that will come of it for future projects. But if you are a MCU fan you’ll want to own it and it does come with a slew of bonus features like bloopers, deleted scenes and featurettes. It’s not bad, it’s not great and I wish Taskmaster wasn’t a throwaway character, but it has its moments.
Second we have Crazy Fist which was a bit disappointing. I was hoping it would be a great fight movie, but there’s a lot more story/plot to it. There’s corporate takeovers, drugs, and all kinds of other things beyond fighting. It opens with a cool fight sequence, but then it goes into the story and everything else. I was hoping for an old school Bloodsport type flick, but instead got a drama with some fighting. One character is accused of killing another in the ring, but it was a set up and he fights to clear his name along with his girlfriend all while being an undercover cop. It fees longer than its runtime because it’s very layered and drawn out. The Blu-ray cover art certainly makes it seem like a great fight movie, but ultimately the drama and storyline are more dominant than the actual fighting which is a shame. That opening with the crazy big guy and the alligators was awesome though.
Third we have Eli Roth’s History of Horror Season 2. I really enjoy this series and I’ve gone back and rewatched a lot of films they’ve covered in its two seasons. Not only is Roth a solid filmmaker himself, but the show has some of the biggest names in horror and film as well. It talks about the influence these movies had on people, what scared them, what still scares them today. I’m sure you’ve heard of many of the people being interviewed, Stephen King, Rob Zombie, Quentin Tarantino, and more. Season 2 takes a look at movies with creepy kids, haunted houses, monsters and more. I’m a really big fan of the series and it’s a great reminder of movies you need to see or watch again. Highly recommended.
Next is Dead Pigs. This is the debut film from Cathy Yan who directed last year’s Birds of Prey film. This movie is layered with interconnected stories involving a man whose pigs die, a woman who won’t give up her family home, the big corporation trying to get her land, a waiter and socialite and more. It’s from 2018 and has Zazie Beetz in it. It’s not bad, but I’m not a big fan of these overlapping types of films where everyone has to do with everyone else someway or another. It’s well made and well acted, but the story didn’t hold my attention too much. I’m sure it has a ton of fans though especially since Yan came to fame thanks to it. I’m not sure if it’s been available on DVD before, but if you are a fan you’ll enjoy this release.
Magnum P.I. Season 3 hits home video this week as well. I don’t know what the ratings for it are, but I know my parents prefer the Hawaii 5-0 and MacGyver reboots more than this one. They do watch Magnum when it airs, but it’s not one of their favorites. I watch it when it comes my way on DVD and sure it has attractive people, easy to follow storylines and a great backdrop, but it’s lacking something. Season 3 opens with Higgins being shot and has episodes involving an MMA fighter being pressured to throw a fight, a hurricane hits, Higgins is abducted, an Army Ranger goes missing, a psychic hires Magnum and Higgins to prevent a murder she claims to have foreseen, and more. It’s not great TV, but it’s easy to watch.
SEAL Team: Season Four came out last week, but I didn’t get my copy in time. It’s another show my parents watch weekly and I don’t know why I don’t. Every time I get a season to review I enjoy it so you would think I’d watch it regularly. Episodes include the team adjusting to several members changing course, Ray Perry goes missing which leads to trying to find him, him trying to escape and his rescue, they recover military drones in Syria, Jason is put on trial when he is accused of a horrific crime, there is a covert mission to infiltrate a Boko Haram camp, and the finale is pretty powerful.
Last we have NCIS: New Orleans: The Complete Series. This came out last week, but I also got it late. It’s a show my parents watched weekly, but preferred the original NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles more. I watched it for review purposes. Scott Bakula was fine, but I found the show ok at best. I’ve reviewed individual seasons before including the final season last week and this box set is 100% for the fans of the show. It contains every episode and comes in a nice box which will look good on your shelf. If you are a fan definitely pick it up.