82 / 100
Watchable Minutes : Out of the 132 available minutes, I think that there’s a solid 100 minutes of quality Marvel movie. It’s a little rough around the edges in a way that makes me slightly concerned, especially this many entries into the MCU as a whole, but that’s ok.
Trailer Comparison : I’m very conflicted about this trailer. I think it’s a better movie than the actual movie because I’m a sucker for cheesey kung fu, but those around me have made me feel like it’s just a little too cheesey and not better than the actual movie.
Movie or Film : Movie.
- Run time : 2 Hours 12 minutes
- Studio : Marvel
- Director : Destin Daniel Cretton
- Where to Watch : In Theaters
Young Shaun lives in L.A., living a fun and uneventful life with his best friend Katy. After he recieves a post card from his younger sister that he hasn’t seen in years, he is soon attacked by a gang of thugs from his father’s Ten Rings organization and is forced to reveal his martial arts prowess. With his cover blown and his past chasing after him, Shaun and Katy journey to China to find his sister and figure out why their father is hell bent on tracking them down after so many years.
Another summer weekend, another Marvel blockbuster. Following the aftermath and fallout of Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit, Marvel has been promoting Shang-Chi non-stop (at least my algorithm has) in an attempt to drive attention towards their newest property. It seems to have worked on me because I bought into the marketing and was decently hyped for Shang-Chi. While I won’t say that I’m disappointed by the final product, I won’t say that I’m suitably satisfied either.
There are two main issues that I noticed while watching Shang-Chi. The first issue was that the most enjoyable parts of the movie were borrowed from other movies. For example, the inclusion of Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin character Trevor. I had no idea he was going to be in this movie and he was a worthy comedic character. It was neat to see the call backs and references to Iron Man 3, which is often maligned as the worst movie of that trilogy. It made me think more fondly of it for a few minutes by giving me an effective dose of nostalgia. The other borrowed character was Benedict Wong, who is prominently shown in the new No Way Home trailer. Wong had plenty of screen time and a large seat at the table in the end credits scene, which I’ll get to in a second, but this reinforces my complaint that the best parts of Shang-Chi were borrowed from other movies and were not original to this movie. As far as the parts of Shang-Chi that were original to Shang-Chi are concerned they lacked the flair and care that I’ve become accustomed to. The most enjoyable and original thing from this movie was Awkwafina’s character Katy and that’s not a surprise because everybody loves Awkwafina. Aside from her character and the dynamic between her and Simu Liu’s Shaun, everything else was pretty mediocre.
The second big issue was the poor writing. I mentioned above that everything felt kind of mediocre and I think lot of that has to do with the poor writing. Every action was telegraphed so far in advance that it wasn’t even a surprise when Xu Wenwu turned and saved his son at the last second from the Dark Dwellers. It was also incredibly obvious that Xialing was going to install herself as the new leader of the Ten Rings in the post-credits scene. Additionally, it is very odd that Shaun didn’t even try (on screen) or at least mention some off screen misadventure to go back and save his sister from the compound. It seems like that’s the bare minimum learning and training experience a young hero needs to have in order to develop but instead, he just ran off to L.A. and forgot about her. Maybe the writers were trying to show that not all heroes are perfect right out of the box and that Shaun had already survived his crucible, but it leaves an odd impression on the audience. I don’t think that the actors involved in the movie did a bad job by any means, Simu Liu and Awkwafina had some awesome chemistry and the supporting cast seemed to mesh well together, but it just didn’t click in the way Guardians or Ant-Man could click with similar stakes.
Shang-Chi had mid to high quality CGI and camera work for the most part, but there were a few moments where the CGI didn’t really work. There’s a scene were Xu Wenwu falls off a cliff and it looks like everything underneath him is 2D and has no depth. The return animation for the rings when they fly through the air back to the wielder’s forearms also looked pretty cheesy. It was like they couldn’t think of a better way to visualize it and decided to life it straight off a comic cell. Similar to the visuals, the audio was pretty standard Marvel quality, with a passive score that didn’t really do anything for me. The inclusion of “Hotel California” by The Eagles was a nice surprise and lead to a few comedic moments, bu other than that it was pretty unremarkable.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings is a worthwhile attempt at inclusion and diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I think it’s like 75% of the way there. Hopefully the sequel gets the attention it deserves because I am very interested in seeing how the rest of this arc plays out and hopefully it ends up more like Winter Soldier and less like Dark World.