‘Shang-Chi’ among best films based on Marvel Comics

Rick's Reviews

Simu Liu is one of the major strengths of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” (Photo courtesy of Disney)

An action film, horror movie and TV mystery provide a wide range of entertainment options.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” Grade 3 ½ stars: How well a Marvel movie works depends on the lead character and the story being super strong. That is why this film is one of the top releases connected to the Marvel Comics universe.

Simu Liu brings both striking charisma and fists to the role of Shang-Chi. His normal life changes dramatically when he learns he must face the past he thought he left behind and confront his father. That’s not easy to do when your dad is the leader of the dangerous Ten Rings organization.

Liu and the story would have been enough to recommend this film. It earns bonus points for a strong supporting cast of Awkwafina (as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy), Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen and Florian Munteanu.

Awkwafina can be a wild card if her performance is allowed to leap off the tracks. Director Destin Daniel Cretton does a good job getting the right amount of comedy energy from her.

The bonus is that the new DVD and Blu-ray release features 11 deleted scenes and a gag reel.

“Malignant” 1 ½ stars: The name of director James Wan’s latest production, “Malignant,” comes with a built-in sense of dread and doom. Even the slightest connection to the evil of cancer is enough to create fear and nightmares.

Sadly, that is the scariest part of the movie.

“Malignant” is a beautifully crafted movie where Wan uses camera angles that create high anxiety and stages fight scenes like a bloody version of a “Matrix” showdown. If all a movie had to do was look good, then this would be a masterpiece.

There’s that pesky problem of a script that starts with potential but eventually gets to such a silly level it rivals the B-grade horror films of the 1950s. It’s hard to hide your eyes when you are holding your sides from laughter.

“My Life is Murder”: Grade 3 stars: The second season of the series that airs on Acorn TV features Lucy Lawless playing retired sleuth Alexa Crowe. She investigates murder mysteries in surprising, glamorous worlds filled with intriguing characters who hide dangerous and deadly secrets. 

There is no mystery why the series got a second season.  Lawless faces each episode with a joy and energy that makes this murder mystery series a real killer.

Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Nov. 30

“Pearl Jam Twenty: 3-Movie Collection”: Cameron Crowe’s 3-movie collection offers a look back at the first 20 years of Pearl Jam’s enduring legacy.

“Masterpiece Mystery! Grantchester, Season 6”: Rev. Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) struggles with his own ideals when Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is caught up in a scandal. 

“Saint Maud”: British horror film that looks at a nurse’s obsession with saving her patient. 

“The Comeback Trail”: Two movie producers hatch a scheme to collect insurance money to pay their debts.

Available on digital platforms

“The 2021 World Series Collector’s Edition: The Atlanta Braves”: The eight-disc set looks at the winning season for Atlanta. It will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 15.

“Wired Shut”: Disillusioned novelist is exposed to a life-threatening secret when he receives an unexpected visit from his estranged daughter. Look for it on DVD and Blu-ray on Jan. 25.

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