As excited as I was to see Black Widow – she really is the coolest of all the Avengers – the lure of my first experience at the majestic Titan Luxe Cinema at Reading Cinemas in Newmarket was equally as enticing.
Not being one to lavish myself with extravagance, Gold Class was as fancy as I had dared venture previously, but when you get invited to attend a premiere it would be un Australian to decline.
With a massive 23 metre screen, Dolby Atmos 360° immersive sound and recliner seats, this experience was every bit as breathtaking as any Marvel film to date and the sheer magnitude of the theatre was a spectacle in itself.
It even had its own toilet WITH security/usher.
I can get used to this.
Apparently Dolby Atmos translates to cinematic audio magnified sound, and for once the hype was worth it.
Even the previews had me gasping and scratching at the air trying to locate the source of the sounds.
By the time Black Widow rolled its opening credits, the scene had been perfectly set, and comfort levels raised to the point that it would have taken a massively dull film to make me leave disappointed.
Thankfully for all concerned, Black Widow was anything but, with everything you have come to expect from a Marvel film and more.
Opening in Ohio in 1995 we are introduced to Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow) and her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) as young girls, still fragile and vulnerable as evident by the waterworks shed over a scuffed knee in the opening scene. It appears the two girls are living a normal existence in a loving home with doting parents, but that facade is quickly dispelled in favour of a far more sinister reality which forces the young family to flee from their sanctuary to head “home” – wherever that may be.
This is the start of a multitude of set action pieces that punctuate the film, with the cinematography and stunt work beyond reproach.
From there the girls wind up in Cuba where a small army of Russians is waiting and their world, as they know it, is shattered forever.
Black Widow contains many layers and sub-stories but is essentially a tale of good versus evil and triumph over adversity – albeit with lashings of blood and violent intent laced with enough humour to alleviate the darkness.
The basic plot line revolves around bad guy Dreykov (Ray Winstone in devilishly evil form) who has assembled himself a large assortment of trained assassins who are under his (mind) control. The fact that all of these warriors are female is never quite explained, but doesn’t really matter to the storyline as long as there is someone to fight.
Nothing is what it seems with red herrings spattered haphazardly throughout the film, but one thing we can be sure of is Black Widow isn’t coming out of this with her standing as one of the nice Avengers intact.
She is driven, ruthless, single-minded and dominant, spurred on by the remnants of a lost childhood that has left a gaping internal wound that can only be filled by revenge.
The plight of the Avengers – who we all know are in a bit of froth and bubble presently – is well handled, with subtle one-liners and throw offs alluding to a force never far from reach but also too preoccupied to care.
Travelling through Cuba, Russia, Morocco and Budapest, the story rockets along at a frenetic pace, pausing only ever long enough to throw more doubt and confusion in the path of Black Widow who is as much trying to save herself as she is the rest of the world.
Her estranged sister Pugh more than adequately matches the stage presence of Johansen, often stealing the scene with a witty remark or off the cuff comment. Not to mention exquisite fighing skills that more than once save her siblings hide.
David Harbour, as the girls father/tormentor/ally/foe Alexei/The Red Guardian, plays a fantastic role, bringing levity and laughter to scenes that almost threaten to become bogged down in sensitivity.
Not that there isn’t the odd bit of sadness thrown in – you can’t expect two girls dragged from their homes at a young age and trained to be the best assassins the world has known – to not have issues, but those moments never bog down the storyline or impede the action of which there is plenty.
From prison escapes in a helicopter while a snow landslide crashes around them to a car chase involving an armoured vehicle, car and motorcycle to a deftly shot arrow to the underside of a moving car that explodes on impact, the set pieces are breathtaking and engrossing, keeping the storyline hurtling towards a spectacular conclusion that sees Black Widow battling her inner demons as much as those in front of her.
Of course, there is the obligatory Marvel ending after the ending that sets up an even more exhaustive sequel, but when the original is so much fun, there’s no way of denying the opportunity to go through it all again.
Marvel seem to have found their Golden Goose – either that or the team behind them are masters of their craft – but whatever it is, let’s hope they continue to deliver on this scale.
Marvel – lous!