The newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a messy film that is coated in the stylistic approach from Sam Raimi.
At this point in time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a well-established part of our lives as it has permeated the zeitgeist enough to stay for a decade and some change. Disney/Marvel has dominated the film industry with their expansive shared universe that now branches into their streaming service with shows like WandaVision and recently Moon Knight. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of these films. Over the years, I have seen the films become more and more complacent with their formula. Even though I am not a big fan of these films, there is a good amount that I enjoy inside their 28 film catalog. Doctor Strange is one of those films, and I will go as far as to say it is in my top ten of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Obviously, when word about the sequel was on its way I highly anticipated its release.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is directed by Sam Raimi from a script by Michael Waldron. Originally the sequel was going to be directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson who worked on the first film. Scott Derrickson left the project at the beginning of 2020 citing creative differences as the reason for his departure. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, and Rachel McAdams. This time around, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) must deal with the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home which gave the first taste of the vast multiverse making its way to Earth. Doctor Strange must embark on a journey with a new friend, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who is being chased by demons that are ordered by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) or as known as Scarlett Witch. Doctor Strange must travel throughout the vast multiverse to find a way to save Chavez from the ruthlessness of Scarlett Witch as she searches for her lost children.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a stylistic spectacle brought to life by horror legend, Sam Raimi. The film excels in the visual department as it keeps the momentum of its visual effects while employing the stylized camera movements from Raimi’s arsenal. Danny Elfman provides one of the best scores to grace the comic book movie genre. I especially loved the use of it during a fight scene where literal musical notes are used as weapons. The film does well in bringing a new feel to a shared universe that has long felt stale. Sam Raimi’s visual aesthetic is at the forefront and for better or worse it helps keep the audience enthralled.
On the contrary, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is far from perfect. The writing feels unbalanced as its first-half works better than the subpar second half of the film. Characters like America Chavez are one-dimensional and leave more to desire from their journey in the picture. The character of Scarlett Witch continues on with the various problems I found within her show, WandaVision. There is potential within the film that is pushed aside to settle with a clunky third act. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a fun time at the cinema as we continue the journey of everyone’s favorite sorcerer. Even though it does not work most of the time, the Marvel machine does not stop as audiences patiently await the next installment in this vast universe.
Watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in theaters worldwide.
SHang-CHi and Legend of the Ten RIngs: It’s INCREDIBLE!!!
It’s not just a Marvel movie!
Shang – Chi has finally released, and people are running to go see it. Even if I am exaggerating just a bit, if you go check your local theater app you’ll see that the special screenings are pack for tonight and honestly it’s great knowing that this movie is getting the recognition it deserves!
With covid still around and new variants being found it was a dangerous game for Disney not to release it for a home audience, and having them call Shang – Chi an “experiment” is just objectively a disgraceful thing to do, no matter the intention, location, or talking to investors. But seeing the theaters fill up, with precautions of course, it fills my heart with joy for the film getting its deserved spotlight.
As a person that uses the theater experience to get away from certain worries the world brings, I’m glad to report that this film is exactly that, an out of world experience that should be enjoyed in Dolby and/or Imax. Once you begin to watch, you forget it’s even related to the MCU having certain instances that reflect back towards the other films and of course the obvious use of post credit and mid credit scenes of the film that’s used to expand the lore of the world(s). But this isn’t the article you want to read if your only interest is looking through fan theories, no, this will be a different type of review article. I enjoy going a little more beyond than the story and plot, and with this film having incredible Chinese influence and culture, and beautiful choreography I have my hands full, but I promise to make it worth your while.
Shang-Chi and Legend of the Ten Rings is a work of art having everything you want from a superhero film the fighting, the big bads being actually big bads, heroes reflecting, and so much more. I highly recommend this film for anyone contemplating to go see it, or even if you aren’t I still recommend it. Having an amazing cast, it brings everything together as the audience can normally tell if something is off between them, and Simu Liu and Awkwafina’s chemistry on screen is incredible something I never thought I needed in life. Just look at the picture above, it speaks for itself on the energy of the film and not to mention the great performances of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Meng’er Zhang. This is definitely a film you have to experience on the big screen at least once and have it on a special screening too. In addition, I have to mention the incredible martial arts portrait and the stunt/ fight choreography performed in the film coordinated by the recently late Brad Allan. But please, don’t just take my word for it check out the trailer below!
I have to mention there is minor and some major spoilers ahead for the film, so please keep in mind as you read.
I can’t state this enough, as everyone in the cast and crew did an incredible job at telling a story. For those that don’t know the story, it follows the life of Shang-Chi a young man whose father is “The Mandarin” although he goes by many names as he’s lived for thousands of years. His father created an empire and army throughout the years and surprisingly when he met his mother settled down a bit from his darker past. It was only until his mother’s death that his father went back to his old ways and even started brutally training him to the extent of being “unkillable”. That’s where we get Shang-Chi, the greatest martial artist the MCU or Marvel ever had. Although, he didn’t want to be a killer let alone for his father so he left and lived for 10 years without his past catching up. After which, he was brought in by his father, who always had tabs on him and now needed him to bring back his mother. At the end we realize it isn’t their mother and Shang-Chi tries to stop his father and the new evil at hand, of course leading to an epic fight and finale.
Now, Simu Liu playing Shang Chi, or as his new alias states Shaun, was a great casting choice and not surprisingly enough Marvel is a big name to be joining now in days. Although he’s not shy of joining amazing roles like Jung in Kim’s Convenience, or other such as being in the Taken series, a short called The Akira Project and a couple of other names. Not to forget mentioning Awkwafina, who we can all agree has been a growing love to see in films since having roles in Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight, Raya and the Last Dragon, Jumanji: The Next Level, and many more. Both bring an amazing light to the film and their chemistry is outstanding, even to the extent of having a joke about the two characters marrying each other, and with all honesty I wouldn’t see it as a problem. We also have to talk about the other wonderful cast Tony Leung Chiu-Wai playing The Mandarin, Fala Chen playing Leiko Wu (Shang Chi’s mother), Michelle Yeoh playing Jiang Nan (Shang Chi’s aunt), Meng’er Zhang playing Xu Xialing (Shang Chi’s sister).
All great actresses and actor, having Tony’s portrayal of an immortal militant man and father was outstanding seeing what makes him feared by the world and his brutal ways of working to the softer more tame version brought out by his wife. Now Kevin Fiege has mentioned this film would restore the image of who The Mandarin is and that we’d be surprised by it, and with all honesty he’s right. I wasn’t expecting such a character arch for what was portrayed to be the baddest of the bad, don’t get me wrong Tony’s character was deadly but after his wife’s passing it was a matter of grief that drove him rather than a hunger for power. It honestly brought out an amount of sorrow towards the character in my opinion, as I’ve dealt with grief before not the same as his character had but grief nonetheless, and that’s what I loved about Tony’s portrayal! The subtle ways of speech, mannerisms and actions that showed what was really going on through the characters head all up until his last fight. Now Fala’s portrayal of the sweet graceful mother who could still be deadly in combat was great, and really added to why Shang-Chi was who he was, and as we heard in the trailer above he is both of these polar opposites’ son. Although we don’t see a great deal of the mother, her few instances were amazing and sweet, as how one would imagine a loving mother would be. This can also be said about a loving aunt just like Michelle Yeoh’s performance as the kid’s aunt, which showed beautiful choreography and fierce warrior scenes. Next we have Meng’er’s character of Xialing, Shang Chi’s sister, and we see they are more related than ever with her on screen performance being phenomenal in the fight sequences, and her boss energy. Unlike her brother, she was taught to fight but she watched from the shadows and taught herself, making herself into a killing machine if need be. Not to mention like her father, she created her own empire off of a fight club on the dark web, and showing something dope in the post credit scene.
Now aside from great performances by these great actors and actresses, I also have to mention two more things without making this article any longer. The stunt and fight choreography in this film is incredible and beautiful taking roots from the old martial arts called wushu. It’s swift and light yet hard impact movements gave way to amazing scene fluidity and with it had me smiling for the entire night, just seeing such actions being portrayed Simu, Tony, Meng’re and everyone else was amazing!!! I have to give props to younger Shang Chi Dallas James Liu, who was a bad ass showing the skills of a young martial artist and even the performance of a young trained killer like Shang-Chi. Not to mention giving props to Brad Allan who work on the film as the fight coordinator before his passing due to an illness. He was an incredible stunt performer and coordinator that’s worked with greats like Edgar Wright and was a part of Jackie Chan’s team. That goes without saying he put his all in what he could before his passing and he will live on through his works. And we also have Andy Cheng to thank for the fight choreography, who was also a team member of Jackie’s stunt crew. It goes without saying but when you add incredible people to your crew you’re going to get incredible results. A lot of it reminded me of older kung fu movies with the swift movements in the air and tip toeing all around yet certain seem so realistic I don’t want to believe they used wires to create such movement.
The second thing I have to mention is the use of Chinese culture such as the imagery and the like, specifically mentioning this because of the hot water brought with viewers in the Eastern Hemisphere. I can’t and will not speak for their part but must mention that the older comics this movie originates from uses stereotypes of Chinese culture and Asian people as a whole. You can find a lot on this matter finding racist villain names and other like items being a big part of it. As I can’t speak for these viewers and their want to accurately depict their culture and life, I will say that the imagery used in this film was beautiful to me, leaving me with a mystical arts to it and with the choice of a small village by the water I found it calming.
All in all, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings was a spectacular time and experience that brought everything it offered in the trailer. As a person that loves hero stories and “perfect” fight choreography, this film brought out whatever serotonin I can scrap inside my head. I only hope as a filmmaker that I get a chance to also work and create similar works in the future. If you have been wanting to go see it and need a reason, I hope I can be that reason to convince you to go as soon as you can. And for those that are still iffy don’t take my word for it just go watch it and let me know what you think, till next time, peace.