Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

If you aim at nothing, you’ll never hit anything.

Is this what you wanted?!

You know, it's kind of exciting. To be a contrarian. It's not often I dislike a new release more than the average person. But I certainly disliked this one. In fact, it is one of the first MCU installments I have ever disliked. I'll give you my stream-of-consciousness thoughts...

Um, some positives. I liked the casting of Simu Liu and Awkwafina, nothing they did was bad though I wouldn't say it was great either. There was this one moment where Shang-Chi told his father that he'd kill him and that that was what he wanted him to be, right? A killer? And that was sort of a glimmer of what I wished the movie was - a martial arts thriller where Shang-Chi tries to overthrow his father. Ben Kingsley was funny for the ten minutes he was on screen. The Planet of the Apes joke was hilarious. As was the Hotel California joke in that mid-credits scene. For the most part, the humor was good, though those were the two times it was great. Oh, the mid-credits scene, that was great! I am very curious why Banner and Danvers look the way they did pre-Endgame, and I'm wondering - did this movie take place before everyone blipped back? That'd explain why it is just Wong, and not Doctor Strange. And I guess the actor for the dad, I forget his name, he did a pretty good job, too. The VFX were super amazing even if there was way too much of them. Gonna predict this for VFX over No Way Home since it has so much. Lastly, the martial arts sequences were awesome. There were only really two or three of them, but they rocked. OK, here are my negatives...

The movie's color palette is so bland and uninteresting. Every directorial decision is either generic or bad. Even the most vibrant parts of the movie are executed just how every vibrant thing ever is executed. Oversaturated, pure green and blue and red, that makes you feel like something is beautiful but isn't really true beauty, just fabricated blockbuster "creatures frolicking" kind of beauty. And that third act was just a pure CGI fuck-fest that I absolutely loathed. I agree with the Oscar Expert's thoughts, but ramped up to 1000 on pretty much every level. There was just so much random generic fantasy to this movie, which I hated. Everything in that fantasy-creature-dimension was just so out of place but also became the whole movie. It was exactly like Raya and the Last Dragon, except it wasn't visually creative at all AND it took itself WAY more seriously. The dad wasn't even technically the main antagonist, instead it was this massive demon creature who just comes out of nowhere and they fight it with this massive dragon and also Awkwafina with a bow and arrow for some reason. Probably my least favorite third act in a Marvel film. They just wrecked the whole movie with fantasy, as I said before. That opening scene with the dad and the mom fighting and also flirting at the same time was genuinely one of the most "WTF' moments I've had throughout the whole pandemic - and that includes the murder hornets. Yes, this fight was more baffling than murder hornets. It was unbelievably cringey, and then they actually WENT with that. The whole fantasy dimension thing instead of a son fighting against his father? I mean he did that a little bit, but it felt so drowned out by everything else. I only remember two lines of dialogue between them, the one I mentioned earlier in the positives section, and him being like "you just let her die while watching through a window." And those two lines are an amazing basis for a conflict that we got the CliffNotes version of. The rest of it was replaced by demon creature sky portal bullshit.

I have more negatives, too. That stupid sister character? She was SO FREAKING bland. I haven't even heard anyone talk about her. The beginning of her arc was incredibly cliche with her fighting her brother in the ring and being mad at him. And then the rest of her arc was fucking nonexistent. She was a mad blank slate, and then a blank slate. Wow, what an arc. What a character. The acting for her was ridiculously bad, too. And they tried to do like a woke #MeToo thing but they didn't do a very good job of it, I didn't realize what they were trying to do until that forced post-credits scene where they portray her doing exactly the same thing as her father, but with women this time, as a good thing. By that point, I realized what they were going for, and slapped my face because it was so rushed and forced at the end and so vague and minor at the beginning. Also, the editing for the finale sucks, as if the overabundance of VFX and sky demons and bad color grading wasn't terrible enough, it also had to be cut like this

*zero seconds have elapsed*
shot of Shang-Chi on dragon
shot of demon
shot of demon and dragon
shot of demon and dragon from behind
shot of Awkwafina
shot of Awkwafina and Shang-Chi on dragon and dragon and demon
shot of Awkwafina and Shang-Chi on dragon and dragon and demon from behind
shot of Awkwafina and Shang-Chi on dragon and dragon and demon from overhead
*one second has elapsed*

I really liked the other fight scenes, but they suffered from a little bit of this over-cutting syndrome as well. Not too much on the bus, more so on the scaffolding, and way more so on the more minor fights. I had some more nitpicks, but I can't remember them right now because I've been thinking so much about all these big flaws. EDIT: I just remembered another big flaw. The exposition. My god, there was so much of it. Narration, forced conversation, you name it. It was almost Man of Steel level bad. I'm adding this at 11:54 PM, so I won't say much more about it, but it definitely hurt the film even more than the film was already hurt.

Overall, I just thought Shang-Chi was a bad movie with a few redeeming elements. I liked the characters enough, and the action in the first act, and I laughed a few times. That was pretty much it. Even the VFX are starting to fall in my mind, because there was just way too much of them. They were good, but they didn't have to be that prevalent. A lot of the shots in the final battle weren't real at all. It was just a CGI human flying through the CGI air at a CGI demon creature from the CGI gate. God, I hated that final battle. Anyway, I know people disagree with me on this, but I just didn't like the movie. I wouldn't say I hated it. I might even re-rate it to a 2.5 once I think about it more. But for now, not my thing at all. It wasn't even entertaining past the first act. I was quite bored most of the time.

- Added to my 2021 ranking at #22, and nominated for Visual Effects.

- Added to my MCU ranking at #21.

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