Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021) & Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019) Reviews

Two quickie reviews today before I get my monthly roundup post ready for sometime next week. Two very different films, obviously, but I enjoyed them both.

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Based on Marvel Comics

Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past when his father Wenwu (Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing (Zhang) into a search for a mythical village.

My Opinion:

I reviewed Black Widow last month & said again that I have superhero burnout with all these MCU films. Black Widow wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t great. I’ve watched all the MCU movies as they’re fun but I’m certainly not some huge fan of them. It’s probably why I usually prefer the ones that aren’t quite as formulaic. That may be obvious as Guardians Of The Galaxy is easily my favorite of the MCU films, which I ranked HERE. I’ve just added Shang-Chi to that list. It’s in the middle. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting and more than Black Widow. Again, I liked that this one at least felt a little different from the majority of the MCU stuff.

Gotta say I’m surprised they keep putting Awkwafina in movies as I can certainly understand why some people can’t stand her. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I like her (also liked her in Raya And The Last Dragon, which I thought was pretty good). But it’s a shame that she probably put some people off this film a bit. Her friendship with Shang-Chi was fun & Simu Liu was really good in the role. We also got some great female characters with Shang-Chi’s kick-ass sister & super cool mother and aunt. His aunt was played by the brilliant Michelle Yeoh who was great as always. Tony Leung Chiu-wai played Shang-Chi’s heartbroken & complicated father and I really liked that role as well as the role of the aunt & the mother.

Everyone was good in this but the adults, especially Tony Leung Chiu-wai & Michelle Yeoh, were the best. But, hey, they’re already big stars for a reason as they have a great presence. Oh my god – did I just call them the “adults”?! Ha! How old do I sound?!?! Shang-Chi must be about 30? Okay – he’s the son in this so I just meant the parents & the aunt were all super cool. Oh – and I highly recommend Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Infernal Affairs, which was remade as The Departed. Fantastic film.

For some reason, I couldn’t find great pictures from this movie. Sorry for not including images of the characters I just raved about! Too late to add now, as I need my post’s tweet to be what I’ve already added as my last image since I finally figured out that it tweets that last one you uploaded. Only took me almost 9 years to figure that out! Well, here’s Shang-Chi again. Who is an adult too…

This one did start out quite slow but really picked up for me later in the film when Shang-Chi returns home and we get to see all the cool mystical & mythical shit. I loved the hidden village and all the creatures but, again, that will be because I get bored with the MCU stuff and the end of this felt very different to those films. But it’s also what will have made people like or hate this one, I guess, and I could understand why some MCU fans maybe wouldn’t love the end of this one. Did they? I honestly don’t have a clue as I avoided all reviews as I knew I wouldn’t be seeing this one until after everyone else did. I also liked the story itself, which I can’t say of every Marvel film, and again thought the father was one of the better “complex” characters and enjoyed the story of him & his wife. So I liked this more than plenty of the MCU films but I do admittedly have very different taste from the diehard Marvel fans. Contemplating upping my rating but will leave it as is for now…

My Rating: 7/10

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)

Directed & Written by Céline Sciamma

Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of an affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.

My Opinion:

Was very happy to see this on BBC iPlayer as everyone absolutely raved about it when it came out. It’s a good film. I’m not, like, “OhmygodthisisthebestmovieEVER!!!!!” but the characters are strong & I was interested in what would happen with their relationship. It was just really unfortunate that Noémie Merlant kind of looks like Emma Watson in the face. So I kept picturing Watson making her weird annoying faces while attempting to act (Merlant can act, though). I especially liked Adèle Haenel’s character (I dunno – I always go for the blondes) and they had really good chemistry together.


Nice to see people actually following Covid guidelines…

I liked the extra story with the maid girl or whatever she was. I liked the green dress in the top photo. Kind of reminds me of my high school prom dress! Ha! The color, anyway, but mine had black lace. And I liked when those weird women started beatboxing & then the “on fire” incident happened, which was a great scene. And the book in the painting plus the ending were lovely & bittersweet.

Overall, I liked the characters & the romance and preferred watching women on an island not being psychotic assholes, unlike those idiots in The Lighthouse. Glad I finally managed to see this one.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Last Christmas (2019) Review

Last Christmas (2019)

Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Emma Thompson & Bryony Kimmings

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on the song of the same name, the film stars Emilia Clarke as a cynical Christmas store worker who forms a relationship with a mysterious man (Henry Golding) and begins to fall for him.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies that I liked but also hated because it was so ridiculously predictable. Schmaltzy & cheesy! Also, the completely unnecessary political agenda thrown in as a small subplot was annoying as hell. Thanks for adding BREXIT into a Christmas rom-com. Are you fucking kidding me?! But I’m a hypocrite because I’ll still give this an okay rating because 1) It had some sweet and also some funny moments, but mainly 2) I think Henry Golding is flipping adorable. I’m not super girly or a big lover of rom-coms but I do adore a sweet and lovable male love interest. If the couple work well together in this type of film, it helps to make up for the film’s shortcomings. Emilia Clarke & Henry Golding are so damn cute together.

Emilia Clarke’s main other relationships in the film are with her boss, Michelle Yeoh (the Christmas-loving owner of the Christmas shop where Clarke is an elf) and with her family (including Emma Thompson as her mother). Clarke is a mess and all her relationships are strained, especially with her intense & dreary mother (Emma Thompson, with a seriously dodgy sounding accent. Maybe it’s good, though – I dunno. I’m terrible with accents). There were some very funny moments with Thompson & Yeoh, though. Their characters are both eccentric and quite fun. I did enjoy the comedy in this movie – it was very borderline on being “appropriate” for a 12A rating. Fine with me – I like my comedy a little naughty. Too wholesome is boring.

Clarke’s character is unfortunately a little hard to like but that’s the entire point of the film (gotta have that predictable Ebenezer Scrooge redemption, right?!). Then, of course, there’s Henry Golding as I mentioned. He’s an absolute sweetheart, of course, as all men are in romantic comedies. So unrealistic! But I don’t care. You’re meant to love him in this. Again, that’s the whole point of these sort of movies.

Oh! I’ve not mentioned Wham! I actually kind of forgot this was based on George Michael’s music (despite the title). I was never exactly a fan so admit I hadn’t wanted to hear loads of Wham throughout this. Some songs are just in the background, so I was glad it wasn’t “in your face” and wasn’t distracting in any way.

What else can I say? This movie is SO cliché that I hate myself for kind of falling for its absolute bullshit. But, dammit, Christmas movies are meant to be feelgood movies and you’re meant to like the couple. This movie does at least get these things right as well as adding in some enjoyable humor. I guess I can forgive the pukey plot thanks to all that. If only they’d left Brexit out of this. I’d have liked it much more without that. This movie is now forever tied to this specific point in time thanks to that, ruining its chances of being a timeless Christmas classic years from now.

My Rating: 6.5/10