(Theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access)
After Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow’s first onscreen appearance in “Iron Man 2” way back in 2010, the super heroine Avenger finally gets her own feature.
Scarlett Johansson reprises her signature role in the excellent “Black Widow,” a Marvel Universe saga that traces her history and then follows her efforts to wreak revenge on brutal master General Dreykov (Ray Winstone). “I’ve lived a lot of lives before I was an Avenger,” Natasha tells Black Widow Yelena Bulova (Florence Pugh). “We have to go back to where it started.”
In the film’s prologue which takes place in 1995, young Natasha (Ever Anderson) lives with her mom Melina (Rachel Weisz), her dad Alexei (David Harbour) and her little sister Yelena (Violet McGraw) in Iowa. Everything seems idyllic until the day that Alexei comes home and tells the family that they have to leave in an hour. During their escape, they are followed by people who are shooting at them.
They arrive in Cuba, and then the girls are sent to Dreykov for training. Twenty-one years later, Natasha is a world famous Avenger, who is keeping a low profile while trying to find the location of Dreykov’s infamous Widow training facility, the Red Room.
Screenwriter Eric Pearson and director Cate Shortland take viewers on an exciting action-filled espionage adventure. Although the feature has plenty of awesome setpieces, Natasha/Black Widow’s backstory remains particularly fascinating within the Marvel franchise. This film focuses on character with an absorbing examination of the trained assassin as she attempts to leave her old life.
Other well-drawn, complex characters include feisty “sister” Yelena, “dad” Alexei, aka the Red Guardian, and “mom” Black Widow Melina.
3 and 1/2 Stars
THE GOD COMMITTEE
(In theaters and on demand)
In a New York hospital, the Heart Transplant Selection committee, consisting of five doctors, meets to decide which of three candidates should receive a heart.
Despite some muddled sequences of back and forward in time, eventually it becomes clear that this committee is meeting during 2014. But since the movie continues to frequently jump ahead to 2021, the only real way to guess the time frame is by checking out Dr. Andre Boxer’s (Kelsey Grammer) hair; in 2014 he wears a hairpiece, and during 2021, he’s almost bald.
Even though the topic and ethical concerns of “The God Committee” are fascinating and the acting is first rate, writer/director Austin Stark seems to sabotage his movie with the confusing timeline.
Julia Styles portrays Dr. Jordan Taylor, the newest member of the selection committee. Recently, she has been the physician for one of the transplant candidates.
Janeane Garofalo is Dr. Valerie Gilmore, a heart doctor who no longer practices but serves as the administrator of the hospital’s cardiac unit. In addition to being a surgeon, Box is involved in a research program using animals for heart and kidney transplants and has received funding from Granger (Dan Hedaya), whose son also happens to be a transplant candidate.
Although the committee members are tasked with making objective decisions based on medical facts, these doctors must confront issues of morality and money.
2 and 1/2 Stars
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.