Black Widow (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

After spending a little over the first half of the year delivering on the small screen, Marvel returned to theaters in July with the long awaited Black Widow. Long awaited by a delay of over a year, but also for seeing Scarlett Johansson’s super popular take on the character get her own solo film. The film’s bigger story and headlines have been heavy on its box office and legal proceedings with Scarlett Johansson on how it was delivered to audiences. This was a day and date premiere in theaters and Disney+. Aside from that, its coming home for real ownership on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on September 14th. A quick 2 months following the theatrical drop. There’s a light array of extras put on the disc along with an Atmos track for us home theater junkies. You can order yourself a copy of the film using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review (Link not currently available as of this posting).



Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy, and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Black Widow is a pretty average little spy fantasy to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe running as we kick off into their fourth phase. We are offered a story that was “skipped over” in the Phase 3 portion, but is important enough to go back to now in order to jump start the next phase of adventures. Was this a surprising and big time connective story, defining character piece that was like “woah” when you left the theater? Absolutely not. Was it one use to set up new threads and characters for a future Marvel narrative while offering you one last bit of adventure with a fan favorite? Yes indeed.

Most important to the movie is to set up is Yelena Belova, the next Black Widow, who is certainly being peppered up for an appearance in Disney+ shows and Marvel movies. And the script loves her and does best to get us to love her as well. Florence Pugh takes advantage of that opportunity and becomes a real scene stealer (Along with David Harbour’s Red Guardian) with terrific comedic chops as well as handling herself in a fight. At the heart of the film is her and Natasha’s relationship. While the film does want to bring Yelena up to the front, Johansson is still clearly our star and giving us one last glimpse at how great and scene stealing her Black Widow once was.

Cate Shortland’s film really has invested itself in wanting to tip the hat to many a spy film, be it Bond or Bourne or Hunt. There’s also Natasha’s background, which unfortunately for this film had recently been explored to more efficient and effective degrees a few years ago in the Jennifer Lawrence starring Red Sparrow. Sure, that’s a more (as Zack Snyder would say) adult film, but that’s closer to what the comic books creators had in mind when they came up with Black Widow. Where Black Widow needed to exist in was topping these points of reference, but it merely does best when acknowledging them or copying. To my delight, however, the film not only features a scene where Natasha is watching one of my under appreciated and favorite James Bond films (Moonraker), but they handshake it in the middle of the climactic action scene as well. Unfortunately though, unlike Moonraker, this film has a bit of a yawner villain and probably the weakest one since Thor: The Dark World in Ray Winstone’s Dreykov. But, like that 007 film, it has an awesome goon in Taskmaster.

There’s nothing really too wrong with Black Widow, its an ok film. Marvel has just such a deep roster and catalog of films and television now that it comes across as an also ran. And it in terms of the films its borrowing from or trying to run with, it falls pretty short of being an “also ran”. Truly, its a fine watch on Saturday afternoon, but in terms of finding a way to stand out and be memorable, that’s where the film really falls short. I could make plenty of recommendations that pull of this same thing and do it much better and will stick in your brain for a long time (Even if they aren’t that great), whereas Black Widow may just blend into the Marvel background. Which is kind of a shame as it features such a key character to their cinematic universe as well as one of their best performers.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Black Widow is a native 4K title from Disney and Marvel, making it their first title to be such. And to these eyes, the transfer looks pretty damn good. Its a sharp, polished and crisp image. There’s loads of details and texture information about. But, importantly, it looks to have broken from that typical washed out Marvel look. Granted, some of the locales are meant to appear in a certain fashion, but it allows colors to pop a little more than I’ve noticed before.

Depth:  The film features a very good depth of field, with plenty of pushback on backgrounds and loads of scenarios with free characters and objects layered in the frame and a moving camera to show it off. Scale comes off beautifully in many of the exterior establishing shots. Movements are smooth, natural and feature no issues with motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural. Good contrasting helps bring out even the most regular of colors. No information lost in the shadows or darkness. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite bold and full with a good punch to them when need be. Whites are especially strong as evidenced during the Red Guardian’s snowy escape from the prison sequence. Reds give a nice burst and the HDR really flourishes on laser aiming, display monitors, fires, explosions, car lights and more.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish (Give or take a filtered sequence or two). Facial features and textures are quite well visible in any given shot to make up lip texture, make-up lines, wrinkles, stubble, dried dirt or blood, freckles and more.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Japanese 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese

DynamicsBlack Widow’s greatest feat may be delivering one of the better Atmos tracks for Disney. I was quite surprised and how full and loud this one could get, especially in the deeper tones. Its obviously well mixed, but this is the most normal an Atmos track has felt from them in quite some time. Granted, I did have to turn it up a notch or two, but that’s no different than messing around from studio to studio with releases. Hopefully they’ve turned a corner here, but I’ve thought that with other titles in the past too.

Height:  There’s plenty from above, from people dropping to jets, debris, gunfire, explosions and more.

Low Frequency Extension: Crashing, explosions, engines rev’ing, gunshots, punches landing and a lot more actually feel like they have some power to them. Which is strange for how Disney normally treats the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: The room really wheels around, obviously during the action sequences. Every speaker is engaging and aware of where and when things are happening on and off screen. The rolling sound has a good, healthy impactful feel. Beyond travel and action beats, ambiance is built very well through the non-front and center channels as well.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp, always present no matter how loud or quiet the room is and feeling part of the given environment.


Black Widow comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code for the film.  All bonus material is found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Sisters Gonna Work It Out (HD, 5:24) – A pretty generic, very EPK look at the film. Fluffy interviews, “my character is this” and sweeping generalities quickly fill in 5 minutes.

Go Big If You’re Going Home (HD, 8:50) – This one goes a little bit into the characters, locations and action sequences for the film. Still pretty general and surface level stuff here.

Gag Reel (HD, 2:54)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 14:11)


Black Widow is a solid little spy fantasy that’ll remind you of other spy action films that are a bit better than this. Though, Black Widow is still plenty of fun thanks the to chemistry of its leads. Disney’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the film comes with a terrific transfer and surprisingly good Atmos track. The extras on here disappoint, but that’s sort of the era we are in here with Disney and home video. Perhaps they’ll drop more on Disney+ where they probably prefer you check it out anyway. Though, if you’re reading this review, its likely you’re picking this up anyway to go with your Marvel set, so I don’t know what good my recommendation (pick it up, despite crummy extras) will come as.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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