‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ At Home

For only the third time in my life I watched Shang-Chi this morning and yeah, it was fun. This film is a one-of-a-kind MCU movie with its martial arts and Asian themes. There’s so much to love about this movie but with every viewing there has always been a hitch in the otherwise perfect production.

That hitch is the film’s lackluster second act, the sometimes underwhelming humor, and the sporadic pauses that give way to someone performing a martial arts pose or staring intensely at one another.

The film’s first forty minutes and its last forty minutes are undoubtedly the movie’s best, with the first forty minutes feeling like a non-stop action ride and the last forty minutes becoming the emotional knockout of the story. Every time this film gets to the nitty-gritty in the last act I can barely contain my emotions and the same can be said today.

After my third viewing today, I definitely think I like this movie less than Black Widow, which has become my favorite MCU movie of the year so far. That may seem controversial to some but honestly, Black Widow is a solid movie and Shang-Chi is really good at times and at other times… not so much.

But I am ridiculously excited for the sequel.

2 thoughts on “‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ At Home”

  1. I’m definitely on Team Black Widow for the year. ScarJo and Florence are likable and charismatic on the screen. The pacing between the storytelling and dialogue and the action scenes flows well for me throughout the movie. The family dynamics of the characters work pretty well. The down-to-earth action is strong, comparing very well to the Captain America movies. The spy genre with a very low-key use of superpowers was also a nice change of pace from most recent superhero movies.

    I feel like Shang-Chi just took the Captain Marvel formula and reapplied to a martial arts theme. And that’s the last formula in the MCU I wanted to see redone. We have not one but two characters who exist primarily for comic relief plus a furry little mascot. The characters’ powers and where they come from are not clearly defined and explained, which is a mortal sin for a superhero movie. The story is told in a jumbled manner, with an unnecessary flashback structure. The heroes don’t have strong personalities and identities. The villains easily steal every scene from them.

    Those movies fail my “bedtime story” test, which is to imagine sitting down and telling a child the story of the movie. Would the story be clear, interesting, have a logical flow and not end up sounding hopelessly confused, convoluted or meandering? Shang-Chi might have more interesting effects and action than Captain Marvel, but so do all of the Transformers and Pirates movies. That’s not what sets apart the great movies in any genre.

    Liked by 1 person

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