Shang-Chi and a Breath of Fresh Air

Marvel’s Phase Four is different. There’s no denying that. Starting off with WandaVision, a bonkers sitcom, leading us into the politically charged Falcon and the Winter Soldier, only to take another left turn with the Loki series, Marvel is boldy saying “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

And that brings us to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Here’s how IMDB describes it:

“Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.”

Let me tell you how much of an undersell this is. Shang-Chi, as a character, is as big as Tony Stark was to Phase one. Destin Daniel Cretton laid down the gauntlet with this film, boldly declaring the old rules are not our rules, and then took the best parts of martial arts films, family dramas, buddy comedies and Star Wars (yeah, you heard me “Heroes Journey” fans) and made a better superhero movie than most of those that came before.

Simu Liu is not only a superhero, but he’s a leading man, in the best kind of Hollywood way. I can’t wait to watch him in everything he does moving forward–especially Shang-Chi 2. Like, I’m ready for it.

And just in case that wasn’t enough for you, Tony Leung (one of my favorite actors–period–full stop) plays the leader of the titular Ten Rings organization. And for Marvel, this yet another step in the right direction as his Wenwu is as heartbreakingly sympathetic as he is dangerous–yet, another good Marvel villain. (If they keep this up, we may have like five. ;))

Lastly, let’s talk about the women in this movie: I love Awkwafina, and she does not disappoint in this movie–she’s funny, competent, and above all, a real person–she grounds this very fantastical movie, as does Shang-Chi’s sister, played by Meng’er Zhang, who is not under utilized in this movie and whose part is only going to be greater as the MCU continues to expand.

EDIT: I forgot to mention Michelle Yeoh–who should be a national treasure to not only China, but to the world–and she always delivers!

So let’s try this ourselves:

“In a world where forces from across the universe can strike at any moment, Shang-Chi–trained as an assassin from childhood–just wants to live a normal life with his found family. But by chance or destiny, the Ten Rings Crime Syndicate greatest killers have finally found him.”

There… first try is already better. It’s not even a good description, but it’s better. IMDB, I’m available.

IN SHORT – Watch this movie and get hyped, phase four isn’t pulling it’s punches, nor do I want it to.

Oh, I’m on Letterboxd now… You should check it out and we can vote on movies together: My profile.

Nerd Rant: My Renewed Hope in Star Wars

I’m not going to lie to you.  After the final prequel film ended, and the saga was complete,  I was left unsatisfied.  We were given three new, and unfulfilling movies that were pale comparisons to their predecessors, and they failed to add anything new to the experience, and in many cases, depreciated the originals joy and creativity.  And it was over.  No more Star Wars.  No hope.

As I am in love with Star Wars enough to look past many things, I still purchased the movies and began watching The Clone Wars tv series when it came out.  This was a good thing.  Though the show skewed young, it aged with it’s female protagonist, Ahsoka Tahno, and in not-so-small of a way, made up for the disappointing prequel films.  This, at least, was Star Wars.

Then Star Wars Rebels happened, and I was finally getting Star Wars on the level I needed.  It isn’t the big screen romp I wanted, but it was good storytelling, in the galaxy far, far away.  My hope began to kindle.

The Force Awakens came the following year, and my hope for a world where new and inspiring Star Wars stories took flight.  Was it a perfect movie?  No, but it did something that none of the prequels had done.  It reminded me of why I loved Star Wars, and gave me something new, in the form of some of the most complex and interesting characters we’ve yet to see in Star Wars.  I was ready.

And now, Rogue One, A Star Wars Story has arrived, and it truly is my New Hope for Star Wars.  They succeeded on every level.  Do I think there are flaws in the film?  Yes.  But then again, there were flaws in 4, 5 and 6 too.  But they were the flaws you look over, because ultimately they do not detract from the overall experience of the film–which was a lot of fun!  In fact, I truly only have two problems with the film, and both of them involve unnecessary cameos of characters from episode 4.  But they are small complaints, because when the credits finally rolled, I was not left unsatisfied, or unfulfilled.  I left the theatre loving Star Wars that much more.

Thank you, Gareth Edwards.  #YouDoneGood

The Force is Strong with this One

“The Force Awakens” is the seventh Star Wars film, and it has never been so cool! JJ Abrams has successfully reignited the franchise, by not only drawing on all three of the original trilogy, but also by introducing us to some of the most interesting and complex characters the series has ever seen. Oh, and then there’s “The Force.”

“The Force” is a character in this film and has never been as interesting or visually engaging! It kicked the proverbial @$$ in this film. I’ve never been so excited about Star Wars than I am having watched “The Force Awakens” in the theatre (twice). I now know what it must have felt like in 1977 when my parents saw “Star Wars” for the first time.

See this movie.