Grab your popcorn and get cozy! Patrick Beatty stopped by our set today to introduce us to three new movies coming out this weekend.
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton
Written By: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and language.
Synopsis: Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.
‘Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings’ is the newest MCU film and centers around Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu, who just hasn’t really found his place in life. After being discovered by his father ‘The Mandarin’ henchmen he is forced to confront his past of his fractured family and the Ten Rings organization.
The Ten Rings have been indirectly and directly involved with the MCU since ‘Iron Man’, and now the shadowy organization is getting its comics accurate-ish debut. But with so many characters introduced at this point, will Shang-Chi stand out above the rest? With stunning visuals and a heartfelt story of a broken family trying to fix themselves, I can confidently say this is the best MCU film to come out during this Pandemic and the best MCU origin film since Black Panther.
First, Simu Liu does an amazing job as Shang-Chi. He has charisma for days, was able to pull off fighting in a small amount of training time and not really having previous fighting experience, & did it with the same grace and excitement we’ve seen come from the MCU alumni that started before him. It’s amazing his story with Shang-Chi started with tweeting to Marvel that he essentially called dibs on the role, and years later Marvel remembered, and here he is! Awkwafina of course brings the humor in the film, giving us her unique sense of humor and love for life attitude that’s infectious just watching.
Shang-Chi is the best fighter in the MCU hands down. I loved the styles of fighting in the film, and the inspirations coming from ‘Ip Man’, Kung Fu Hustle’, ‘Crouching Tiger’, and I’m sure many other iconic Kung-Fu films. Seeing the use of the ten rings and how their powers are shown was very cool, and I’m excited to see what other powers they can create in future installments.
In the end, this story is a personal family drama, and boy did they knock it out of the park by casting Tony Leung as The Mandarin. The relationship dynamics between him and Shang-Chi are incredibly fractured, but there is still love between them that you really believe. As toxic as a father that The Mandarin is you know he only wants what is best for his family, and might be one of the most relatable villains in the MCU.
Overall, ‘Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings’ is an action-packed thrill and the best fighting film in the MCU. Please go and check out other reviews from Asian-American film critics such as John Lui, Wendy Lee, Shirley Li, and any more you can find to see the impact films like this have when representation is done right.
Directed By: Kay Cannon
Written By: Kay Cannon
Starring: Kay Cannon, Stars Camila Cabello, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Rated: PG for suggestive material and language.
Synopsis: A modern movie musical with a bold take on the classic fairy tale. Our ambitious heroine has big dreams and with the help of her fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true.
There have been 6 Cinderella films (if you count adaptations) before Amazon decided to yet again remake the classic story, this time giving it a musical twist that continues to twist until your head falls off. Yes, this may not be the nightmarish hells-cape that 2019’s ‘Cats’ is, but it’s offensive for completely different reasons that make it the worst musical this year.
There is an effort– on the actor’s part to at least attempt to salvage the wrecked ship that is ‘Cinderella’, but the lifeboats are long gone, and everyone is just treading water on the screen. There are so many questions that I know will never have satisfying enough answers as to how this was made, so let’s quickly break down the biggest problems.
First the music. Every song is just a mashup of 2 popular songs, lip-synced INCREDIBLY poorly to the actors trying their best to remember what notes they hit on their runs when originally recording the track. The music choices may work based on the chorus of whatever song they are performing, but it serves no purpose to the story other than to be a recognizable song that you can already connect with, without having to connect with the one-note characters.
Not to mention… there just never was anything magical feeling about this version. The time setting is placed in olden times, yet people are walking around with nose rings, one scene having an accent, then dropping it in the next. Everything feels slopped together and up to anyone’s discretion for continuity. Not to mention the choices for characters that almost seem offensive at face value.
Much like ‘Cats’, I feel bad for any actor or person who had to work on this film and might have had hoped this would be the next big hit. I hope they all get opportunities to show audiences what they are truly capable of because director Kay Cannon didn’t do them any favors. Seeing the video of the cast blocking an intersection to sing “Turn the Beat Around”, while a Mouse-James Corden Hybrid aggressively pelvic thrusts at onlookers is the perfect metaphor for this film.
I could “dedi-cats” hours to why James Corden should stop producing and starring in musicals, but I’ll just say I can’t see his name tied to a musical and not think of it as a bad omen. Overall ‘Cinderella’ is not worth checking out. If you need your Cinderell-itch scratched I would recommend the Brandi version.
Directed By: Sara Colangelo
Written By: Max Borenstein
Starring: Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: Rated PG-13 for some strong language and thematic element
Synopsis: An attorney in Washington D.C. battles against cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics to help the victims of 9/11.
‘Worth’ was a 2020 Sundance debut and was talked about throughout the festival. I remember not being able to attend by the sheer number of people in line to watch the film, so I had to wait until now to see what it’s actually about. Centered around the 9/11 tragedy, Michael Keaton plays an attorney Ken Feinberg in Washington D.C. that volunteers to represent the victims of the attack, and assign the monetary value for each victim for their families. Politics and bureaucracy rear their ugly heads as Ken tries to find the right equations to give these families something for their loss.
This is a tough watch but important, because it shows us how much can be swept under the rug and hidden from the American people in regards to care and support, and tells the true story of battle still being fought to give the victims and first responders of 9/11 the support they need. John Stewart has been a big proponent of the 9/11 First Responders bill that only in 2019 was passed, so this film though it’s talking about things over a decade ago, it’s still haunting us today.
Where the film shines is in its terrific performances by Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and Amy Ryan. This is an ensemble cast that all give great performances in this film. I appreciated director Sara Colangelo focusing on telling the victims stories, about their loved ones’ lives and their impact. Seeing Ken listen to these stories and feeling the impact and loss from each wife, husband, or child is incredibly powerful. As well the story does a good job of realizing that while there are accomplishments in the relief fund passing- many were left out of it that didn’t need to be.
Where there tend to be problems in the story comes from the writing mostly. I feel that a lot of the important moments in the movie needed to be more emotionally impactful to the audience and also to the character of Ken, who is written to be too cold and calculating in certain moments. I wish we learned more about other characters more, and the pacing while yes is a slow burn, isn’t incredibly engaging through most of the 2nd act.
Overall this is still a great acting performance from Michael Keaton and an important film for people to watch. Go in knowing it’s a tough watch but be open to learning about how the American people are what saved Americans here, not the government, or private entities.