Freeze Frame: “Black Widow” (PG-13), “First Date” (Not rated)

“Black Widow,” The latest extravaganza from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plays more like an over-the-top spy movie along the lines of James Bond than a superhero adventure. Scarlett Johansson stars in this action-packed movie that takes place sometime between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” If you don’t follow the MCU that closely, no worries. The film also serves as an origin story thanks to multiple flashbacks. “Black Widow” can stand alone for the uninitiated.


While the film has the spectacular eye candy you’d expect given its $200 million budget, the real value of “Black Widow” comes from its cast. Johansson is solid as Natasha, but the movie is stolen by Florence Pugh who is terrific as her long-lost sister Yelena, a highly trained assassin who has escaped the mind control technology used on her by a KGB breakoff organization.


Director Cate Shortland ably emphasizes the story’ strong feminist angle and establishes a credible sisterly bond between the leads. While some of the fight sequences become a shaky blur, “Black Widow” mostly delivers the action goods.

“Black Widow” has bite.


The indie action comedy “First Date” cost less to make than Scarlett’s makeup budget for “Black Widow.” Tyson Brown stars as an awkward teen whose date with a classmate turns into a nightmare when he unwittingly purchases a stolen car. He finds himself in the crosshairs of the cops, drug smugglers and an assortment of lowlife oddballs. “First Date” becomes a bit repetitious, but fans of decadent drive-in fodder will find much to like.


Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at,, and

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