Movie Review – Black Widow

Black Widow (2021)
Written by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson
Directed by Cate Shortland

Initially set to be released in 2020, Black Widow was delayed over a year and finally saw its theatrical & streaming release yesterday. It’s been quite a while since we had a Marvel movie, 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, to be exact. So, with this period of palette cleansing, the Marvel shows on Disney+ being the only new things, and that was just this year; how is Black Widow? I think the MCU is undoubtedly in a new phase but not one I am very excited about. Despite having a top to bottom fantastic cast, Black Widow delivers a lackluster script and some genuinely shocking bad special effects. They seem intent on proving Martin Scorsese right.

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TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 4

Loki Season 1, Episode 4 (Disney+)
Written by Eric Martin
Directed by Kate Herron

As I’ve been watching Loki, I can’t help but hold it up against Wandavision and The Falcon to determine where it ranks. It’s certainly better than that dismal Falcon mini-series, but not sure about its comparison to Wandavision. I think the first Marvel series had some great pathos, but the weirdness and surprises of Loki are appealing to me quite a bit. I loved the reveals in this episode and the exasperated reactions of Loki and Sylvie to them. And I hope you didn’t miss the mid-credits scene because wow, that has me excited for the next episode, which I want to get really weird with it all. Like this is the moment to just go bizarro and make the Multiverse as wild as it could be.

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TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 3

Loki Season 1, Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Bisha K. Ali
Directed by Kate Herron

This week, there was some fervor over the revelation that Loki (whether in male or female form) is pansexual. However, it doesn’t stop my continued annoyance with Disney over its seemingly incessant queerbaiting. Yes, the character said they were attracted to men and women, yet we will never see Loki engaged in a romantic relationship with a man on screen. Disney loves to add lines of dialogue or knowing glances but actually showing two people of the same sex in a relationship together where at least one of them is a main character will simply not happen. Disney is a global corporation run by people whose key drive is to amass money; they will exploit people’s desire to feel represented by giving them the tiniest crumbs while never giving them authentic representation. Meanwhile, actual independent LGBTQ creators make films, comics, etc., and are completely ignored because they aren’t big-budget mass market entertainment. You will never find self-fulfillment with a megacorporation.

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TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 2

Loki Season 1, Episode 2 (Disney+)
Written by Elissa Karasik
Directed by Kate Herron

After this episode of Loki, it was clear to me this and the first entry should be viewed as the entire pilot. It reminded me of the 1980s and 90s when some network action-dramas would debut as a two-hour made-for-TV movie that served as an origin story and set up of the series’ conceit. For Loki, it seems the show will be about trying to repair the now fragmented timeline before time runs out. It was established in this episode that the TVA agents can only enter branches in real-time, unable to go back to before the incidents happened to erase them. That sort of ticking clock scenario is the hallmark of much procedural television series.

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TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 1

Loki Season 1, Episode 1 (Disney+)
Written by Michael Waldron
Directed by Kate Herron

I am one of those people that never got all the fans gushing over Loki. He’s a perfectly okay character, and it wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok that I actually found him entertaining. Even in the comics, I just never found Loki a very compelling character. He feels very one-note to me and just works in the same repetitive cycle. With his death in Avengers: Infinity War, I supposed it was the end of the character in the MCU. However, Endgame had the Avengers traveling back in their own timeline and allowing a variant Loki to be created, one who shunted away with the use of the Cosmic Cube. This Disney+ series is where we find out where he went and what became of him.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 6

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 6 (Disney+)
Written by Malcolm Spellman & Josef Sawyer
Directed by Kari Skogland

So the second MCU mini-series on Disney+ has come to an end, and I was severely underwhelmed by this one. If you have been following my reviews here, you already know I have had significant problems with the show on character & thematic level. All of my dislikes sort of came together in this disappointing final episode which goes back to well-tread moral territory that Marvel has trafficked in since they became filmmakers. There is the illusion that progress is being made, but any rudimentary look at what actually happens in this episode affirms that nothing has really changed.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 (2021)
Written by Dalan Musson
Directed by Kari Skogland

This episode was a bit of an improvement from the last couple, but the show is still far from being as good as it could be. One of the most glaring problems with the mini-series is how bloated the narrative has become with characters. In this one episode, we have scenes with Sam, Bucky, Isaiah Bradley, his grandson Elijah, John Walker, John Walker’s wife, Lamar’s family, Sam’s sister, and his nephews, Zemo, the Dora Milaje, Joaquin Torres, Batroc, Sharon Carter, Karli Morgenthau & the Flag Smashers. Plus, they introduce a new character, the Contessa de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The Zemo narrative appears to be over as he’s taken into Wakandan custody, but I just don’t see a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to all these arcs next episode.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 4 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

With only two episodes left in this mini-series, it has gotten to the point where the story feels utterly bloated with characters and subplots that can’t possibly be resolved by the end. WandaVision had a tight focus on a single storyline; here, we have too many characters with a too complicated web of relationships. If this was a whole television season and characters were given spotlights, it could work. However, we’re getting established characters written to fit the plot (Sam Wilson), other characters having their arcs rushed (Zemo), and a bunch of other people not given room to breathe and showcase who they are in this narrative.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

I overwhelmingly disliked this third entry of the series for a multitude of reasons and I’ve been reflecting on some of the race issues brought up by the first two episodes. We’ve reached the halfway point in The Falcon and Winter Soldier, so now we have an idea of what this is shaping into and I have to say it is not looking great. This episode especially felt like a mess in every possible aspect from dialogue to characterization to the plot. 

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: No Way Home (April Fool’s)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts

For a little while there, it looked like this movie might be made by Sony and take place outside of the MCU. Thankfully Marvel and Sony talked, and so we get this Spider-Man and one more appearance in another property before they go back to the negotiating table again. Marvel cleverly weaves Spider-Man even deeper into the MCU lore with this picture almost as a failsafe to keep the IP integrated. I think you’ll agree there has never been such a cameo-heavy MCU film to date, and it’s almost to the point of frustration. So many characters show up for a scene but then don’t feel integrated into the overall story.

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