“Black Widow” Special Look Review!

In what could technically be considered the second trailer for Marvel’s Black Widow but is instead being called the first “special look”, ex-KGB assassin Natasha Romanoff is forced to reunite a lethal team of trained killers to take on a new wave of Black Widows, and all the might of the villainous, government-operated Red Room program that created both them, and her.

This special look gives us a hint of what has spurred the events of the Black Widow movie, which take place after Romanoff went on the run following Captain America: Civil War but before Thanos’ invasion in Avengers: Infinity War. All the way back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha made a brave decision to leak all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency’s deepest, darkest secrets (including her own) onto the internet in an attempt to expose the far-reaching corruption of organizations like HYDRA. In this teaser, Natasha seems to reference that, saying “I was trying to do something good” when asked why she’s suddenly being stalked and hunted by Russian operatives.

But Natasha learned a lot from her mentor Nick Fury, and one of his lessons must have been how to assemble a great team – because she’s got the help of some of the deadliest Russians ever to bear arms in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at her side in her fight: Yelena Belova, her “sister”, whom we still don’t see wearing her iconic spider-eye mask, much to my dismay; Red Guardian, (played by David Harbour, currently the only member of the main cast without an Oscar nomination in real life), who appears to be something of a father figure to Natasha; and the mysterious Melina, a white-suited martial artist who has a certain maternal charm in one scene, and then cold-blooded killer instincts in another.

"Black Widow" Special Look Review! 1
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These four are up against the Taskmaster, who has a much better showing in this teaser than he (or she?) did in the movie’s first trailer, which earned him/her a bunch of criticism for looking like a Power Ranger in the light of day. Interestingly, all of his/her scenes here are at night – and they look fantastic. In the first trailer it was hard to tell whether the character (who in the comics is legendary for his “photographic reflexes”, which allow him to mirror any opponent’s fighting moves) was displaying his/her unique power-set, but here there can be no question, as we see the masked mercenary perfectly replicate not only Natasha’s moves as they fight on a Budapest bridge, but also those of Natasha’s dear friend Steve Rogers, even employing the Captain’s very same shield-tricks. In the comics, Taskmaster is typically a man named Tony Masters – but it looks like Marvel could be shaking things up, because a couple other characters in this same movie have already been shown to have skills like “photographic reflexes”: Yelena Belova copies Natasha’s moves as they fight in her shabby apartment, and Melina emulates the fighter’s classic superhero pose at one point – and the “new wave of Widows” all seem to move in perfect harmony. Considering that all these characters originated in Russia’s Red Room, another possibility is that Taskmaster is the head of the program, or even the very first Black Widow (who in some comics is also Natasha’s identical clone, if I remember correctly).

So what do you think of the trailer? Do you think it’s a good idea for Natasha to work with a team, or will they stab her in the back (figuratively or literally)? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 7.8/10

“No Time To Die” Trailer Review!

Yesterday, Marvel Studios had to abruptly shift the release for their first Black Widow trailer to the middle of the night so as to give themselves ample room to break the internet before the hotly-anticipated first trailer for No Time To Die dropped. And now we can see why. The trailer for Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie is finally here, and it looks like the sort of film that Black Widow, with its similar spy-thriller vibes, will probably want to keep at arm’s length. But considering that both films are going to be released within the span of a few weeks, they will eventually come head-to-head, and it will be very interesting to see which one comes out on top.

No Time To Die has the advantage of being the latest installment in a well-established franchise, and fans are going to want to see Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, since he’s made it very clear this is his last time playing the character. Fittingly, the plot of this movie revolves around Craig’s Bond coming out of retirement in Jamaica and being roped into a nefarious conspiracy. But along the way, he will end up passing the torch (sort of) to a new agent 007, this one a young black woman played by the extraordinary Lashana Lynch. Lynch’s character, named Nomi, may be new to the franchise, but she’s already charismatic and captivating in this first trailer, telling the middle-aged Bond to stay in his lane unless he wants her to put a bullet in his knee – “the one that works,” she adds. With her glamour and winning personality (and Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing all of this film’s female characters), Lynch is almost guaranteed to be one of the best things about this new Bond movie, and hopefully she’ll get to stay in the franchise for some time.

As for Rami Malek, his performance as the villain Safin is probably going to be hindered by the ghostly Phantom Of The Opera mask his character is wearing throughout most of the trailer. Hopefully the Oscar-winning actor has something more to do than just deliver villain speeches. Not that he won’t knock those villain speeches out of the park, but still, this is a Bond movie – give him something to do!

All in all, the film looks good: I do want to see more action, however, as most of what we see in the trailer consists of the standard building-blocks of any spy-movie trailer: cars careening over cliff roads? Check. Bicycle chase through a seaside village in Italy? Check. There are a couple of things that Bond has that other spies don’t, however – specifically, an Aston Martin with machine guns in the headlights. Stylish.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

“The King’s Man” Trailer Review!

The first trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man was an impressive, if wildly inaccurate, depiction of the First World War, and a veritable rogues gallery combining some of the most legendary criminals and heroes of the era into one high-stakes, epic adventure. It looked fun, a little ridiculous, and charmingly British. So how does the second trailer hold up?

Pretty well. It doesn’t do much to add to what we’ve already seen, and unfortunately there’s no big reveal – no new historical figure waiting to be turned into a ninja super-spy, that is. Even the stinger is just a mildly amusing joke about parachutes. But we do get some tantalizing glimpses of the characters we already know will be in the film.

Rasputin, obviously, is the big bad: he’s seen bewitching or poisoning Alexei Romanov, the Tsarevich of Russia, and battling British agents in the gilded halls of Moscow or Saint Petersburg. As I noted in my review of the first trailer, there’s no mention made of the famed princess Anastasia, but at the rate things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns out to also be a gifted martial-artist, code-breaker or military strategist. Vaughn is not wrong to choose Rasputin as a villain for his movie – Rasputin was a mysterious and frightening force in Russian politics, and his genius, whether mystic or mundane in origin, won him a place in the history books as a master manipulator, and a charismatic religious leader – but he should be cautious when playing so lightly with the very real, very tragic story of the Romanov Dynasty.

We get quick looks at our main characters fighting these historical figures in a variety of different locales – from the snowy streets and balconies of Russia to the streets of Sarajevo, the trenches of the Western Front, the Oval Office, and the manors of merry old England, retrieving ancient, magical artifacts and using high-tech gadgets. Kingsman is a franchise that has always wanted to be Indiana Jones or James Bond for a new generation – and The King’s Man could be the closest they ever get to achieving that. I know I’m excited to see this movie, even if it’s just so I can nitpick and shake my head at the willful distortion of historical events.

So the second trailer might not do much to increase my anticipation, but it doesn’t do anything to change my opinion on the film either, and that’s a good thing at least. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 5/10