This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a Marvel origin story (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring Simu Liu and Tony Leung), a 9/11 drama (Worth, starring Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci), and a princess musical (Cinderella, starring Camila Cabello and Billy Porter). What are the critics saying?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe just keeps rolling on, but as long as they continue to churn out quality content, the critics don’t seem to mind. The latest chapter in the ongoing MCU saga is also the first solo film dedicated to an Asian hero (there have been a few others in smaller roles through the years), which means there was a lot riding on its shoulders. Thankfully, director Destin Daniel Cretton’s film, which tells the story of a young man (Simu Liu) with a dark past who is forced to reckon with his family’s secret history, seems like another winner. There’s more to the story than just that, of course, with connections to earlier Iron Man entries and the obligation to move the MCU narrative forward, if only a bit. But critics say Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is another triumph, with exciting action scenes, some outstanding performances (particularly by Hong Kong screen legend Tony Leung), and a few new wrinkles in the Marvel formula. Unlike Black Widow earlier this year, though, this one will only be in theaters, so don’t expect to catch it from your couch.
For every film that depicts a real-world tragedy with the proper gravitas it deserves, there are a half dozen that stumble over the line into self-important — and sometimes tasteless — melodrama. Thankfully, Worth seems to have avoided the latter fate. Releasing on Netflix a week before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Sara Colangelo’s film dramatizes the efforts of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was tasked with determining how much money the government should distribute to the families who suffered losses in the attack. Michael Keaton stars as Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney put in charge of the Fund, who eventually comes to learn the true meaning of empathy when he clashes with a community organizer (Stanley Tucci) who lost his wife. Critics say Worth is a nuanced look at a difficult, complicated situation that is thought-provoking and superbly acted, even if it doesn’t quite satisfy those looking for answers to the philosophical questions it poses.
You might be saying to yourself, “Didn’t we just get a Cinderella movie a few years ago?” and you would be correct. Disney released its live-action version of the classic fairy tale in 2015, but the story is, of course, much older than Disney, so now we get a bit of a different twist on it. Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello makes her acting debut in this jukebox musical directed by Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect movies), in which Ella is an ambitious aspiring dressmaker at the mercy of her evil stepmother (Idina Menzel) and stepsisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). There is still a prince in need of a princess, but with the help of “Fab G” (Billy Porter), her fairy godparent, Ella takes her destiny into her own hands. Unfortunately, Cinderella has divided the critics, some of whom say it’s a fun, harmless bit of fluffy entertainment with some female empowerment for good measure, while the rest remain unimpressed and a little disappointed that the film couldn’t find a more artful way to communicate its ideas. It’s probably a fine watch for family night, and you can catch it exclusively on Amazon Prime.
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