Movie Reviews

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

shang-chi-legend-ten-rings-movie-review-2021Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Ben Kingsley

Plot: Shaun/Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is forced to face the past he thought he left behind when his father’s organisation The Ten Rings comes looking for him.

My Thoughts: I said it before and I’ll say it again, after all the lockdowns and cinema closures it feels so good to see and hear that Marvel opening on the big screen. Even more so on opening weekend with a good crowd! I’ll admit to not being hyped about Shang-Chi, only because I’m not the well-versed in martial arts movies, but I’ve come to trust now that Marvel continually make movies that I highly enjoy, so I wasn’t worried. And too right! Shang-Chi might be a martial arts movie first, but it’s got the classic Marvel stamp all over it. It’s funny, it’s action-packed and the choreography is stunning.

That was my main take-away from the movie. Yes, there are a lot of fight scenes, but they’re all meaningful and for me, there were four stand-out sequences. The bus, the skyscraper, when Shang-Chi’s parents met, and of course the final showdown. All of them I would happily watch again and again. I’ve seen mentions of it before in blogs and on Twitter but surely there’s a case to be made for a Best Choreography award during awards season? I’m grateful that the trailer didn’t give a lot away because there were some breathtaking moments that could have been spoiled for a sell, not forgetting to mention a particular furry creature!

Also, consider this post my petition for Awkwafina to be cast in, like, everything. I love her so much. Her comedic timing is everything and her chemistry with Simu Liu was just perfect. That sappy part of me really wanted them to have a romantic arc to their friendship but I’m also glad they didn’t, in a way. I can’t wait to see how Shang-Chi fits in with the other MCU characters, he’s such a likeable character and this was a promising origin story.

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Best Bit: It’s impossible to pick just one bit, even after thinking on it for a couple of days. On the comedy side, it’s the karaoke every damn time. For action, the fight between Shang-Chi and his father for the pure epic-ness of it. But my heart would say the fight sequence between Shang-Chi’s parents when they first met. It was half fight, half dance and I felt all the emotions.

Worst Bit: This is going to be an unpopular thing to say but I really wasn’t a fan of Iron Man 3. I’m going to be as vague as I can now but the character brought back from that movie was funny, but didn’t add anything to the story for me. That character’s companion however, was a very welcome addition!

Fun Trivia: This is legendary Hong Kong film actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung’s first role in an American film and his first English-speaking role, even though he has always spoken it fluently.

My Rating: I know I always give ratings out of 5, but it feels wrong in this instance so for today only, Shang-Chi gets 8 out of 10 rings!

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Movie Reviews

Just Mercy (2019)

just-mercy-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Plot: The real-life story of how a fresh out of University lawyer by the name of Bryan Stevenson worked to free a wrongly condemned prisoner on death row, blamed for the murder of a teenaged girl.

My Thoughts: I’ve ended up missing out on the last 3 secret screenings that my local cinema offers, so I was dying to make it to the first of the year! I’ve stopped checking their social media for the clues because they’re too obvious. If I want to go to a secret screening, I want to be surprised! My hunch was that it would be Queen & Slim and honestly, I’d never even heard of Just Mercy so I was really excited at the thought of knowing nothing about what I was about to watch!

I’m pointing out the obvious but Just Mercy is tough to watch at times. It’s horrible to know that even in the very late 80s, going into 90s, racism was still so strong. The entire cast does a good job here but it’s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx who are the standouts here, as the lawyer and death row inmate respectively. We’re with them both every step of the way and feel the same heartache and frustrations as they do.

It’s probably not the kind of movie I would deliberately seek out and watch which is why I love these screenings so much. As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.

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Best Bit: I loved the scene where Bryan managed to get the case re-opened at the supreme court. It was so suspenseful. I really thought for a moment that it was about to end horribly, and when it didn’t, I wanted to jump up and down with everyone else!

Worst Bit: I felt Brie Larson was totally underused. I understand why her character was there but she just didn’t…seem to actually do much? I’d have liked to have found out more about her, why she got into this line of business, what the fallout was, and so on.

Fun Trivia: The roadblock scene was not intended to be a night scene. The film crew was delayed for almost 4 hours due to storms and it pushed the filming back to nighttime.

My Rating: 3 and a half tickets to the Harper Lee museum which you really ought to visit…according to 50% of the characters in this movie.

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Movie Reviews

Short Term 12 (2013)

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Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Main Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Kevin Balmore, Lakeith Stanfield, Frantz Turner, Kaitlyn Dever

Genre: Drama

Plot: Grace works at a residential treatment facility with her boyfriend Mason. A lot of the children there are troubled, and as Grace helps each of them, a new arrival ends up bringing up painful memories for her, and her usually tough exterior begins to crumble, causing a rift between her and Mason.

My Thoughts: This is the first movie knocked off my watch list! And oh boy did I start with a good one. It’s a shame I know the rest of the list won’t be this good. I didn’t think I would find a movie that would tug on my heartstrings as much as The Florida Project (2017) did, but my heart really ached watching Short Term 12.

There are a few comedic moments, like when poor Rami Malek shows up for his first day at work to be confronted with a kid running and screaming to escape. Talk about first impressions! Other than that though, I think I cried no less than 3 times. It’s horrible to think that although this is a movie, what these kids go through actually happens out there in the real world.

It’s not like I didn’t know it before, but Brie Larson is an absolute superstar. She didn’t pick up enough awards for her performance here – she should have taken home an Oscar!

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Best Bit: The rap that Lakeith Standfield performs. It was so moving and powerful – if it was released as an actual record I’d buy it. And by buy it, I mean I would stream it on Spotify. Does anyone still buy records?

Worst Bit: Kaitlyn Dever reading her story about the octopus aloud. Not because it was a bad moment in the movie, but because my heart broke into a million pieces during it, and my sniffing almost woke up my napping baby.

Fun Trivia: To try and convince director Destin Daniel Cretton to cast her, Brie Larson told him that she had applied to volunteer with disadvantaged children after reading the script in order to research the role. Cretton was impressed and Larson did not reveal until later that she had been rejected by every organisation she had applied to.

My Rating: 4 and a half octopuses (octopi?) out of 5. Please don’t ask them to cut their arms off – I can’t take any more sorrow.

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