‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Review – A Thrilling Martial Arts Odyssey

How the hell do you introduce a new superhero this far into the Marvel game? This is something the MCU has to contend with as the roster gets bigger, and Shang-Chi is the newest member post-Endgame. For one, you stack the right talent: director Destin Daniel Cretton at the helm, a storied action cinematographer in Bill Pope, the late Brad Allan as fight choreographer, along with a dizzying who’s who of a predominantly Asian cast. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be burdened with the standard grooves of an origin story, but it blazes past the stumbling block to the tune of a martial arts action romp.

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A Word on Bruce Lee and Asian Superheroes

I have to start off by saying I’m sorry. This is not what I planned to publish at all on the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’ve been fixing up some fun tie-in pieces on Marvel’s latest, some deep-dives into lingering MCU plot threads and a couple spotlights on the film’s stars—which I’ll roll out shortly. (My Labor Day plans have been cancelled in light of everything going on so I’ve got nothing else to do this weekend 🙃) But all of my Shang-Chi inspired content are on hold at the moment because I saw something on Twitter that combusted my brain.

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‘The Suicide Squad’ Review – Over-the-Top Comic Book Mayhem

We all know of James Gunn’s ignominious fall from grace. He went from shock-jock provocateur in his Troma days, which curiously led to him scripting the live-action Scooby Doo, followed by the Dawn of the Dead remake; he directed his own horror genre mash-up in Slither, proceeded to indict vigilantes and superheroes with his twisted indie Super, and then was handed the reins of an obscure Marvel franchise to call his own. Gunn’s career read like the unlikeliest of success stories.

Studio gigs are a dream come true for upcoming filmmakers because there’s an assurance to the work that doesn’t exist in independent filmmaking. If a director can meet all of the studio’s requirements for bringing in bankable stars, appealing to a PG-13 audience, merchandising and marketing, etc., then the studio will bankroll your “vision” and stand by you in both success and failure, supposedly. It’s the very assurance that Steven Spielberg had when Universal Studios secured him as a young talent through a multi-picture contract.

It seemed like Disney had Gunn’s back when Guardians 3 was announced months before Vol. 2 came out. And then they dumped him. I mention this because it’s the first time since entering the studio system that Gunn might have felt expendable—and perhaps why he was drawn to this expendable group of heroes.

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Okay, I’m Hyped for ‘The Batman’

After Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and certainly after Zack Snyder’s brief trial run, I felt like the Caped Crusader could benefit from an overdue sabbatical, and frankly so could we. There’s been a Batman film (or films featuring the Batman) roughly every 3 years since 2005. Even for a lifelong Batman fan that’s excessive.

When Matt Reeves was tapped to write and direct another reboot with Robert Pattinson queued as the next Bruce Wayne, I did my best to feign exasperation despite some excellent sneak peeks. “Darker” and “grittier” they said it would be, or “raw & unsanitized.” Up until DC’s FanDome event, I was all for Warner Bros. hanging up the cape and cowl. But after this weekend’s trailer, I am formally withdrawing my objections. Gimme raw and unsanitized Batman movies for as long as I live. Continue reading