‘Cinderella,’ ‘Shang-Chi’ battle for your attention

'Cinderella,' 'Shang-Chi' battle for your attention

TUCSON, Arizona – Two big movies are opening this week. “Cinderella” launches on Prime Video and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” hits theaters. Here are my reviews:


If you’re doing another “Cinderella” adaptation, you’d better be ready to add something fresh to the mix.

That is exactly what director Kay Cannon (“Blockers”) does. Your vision of a pop music version of the fairy tale pops with gushing vigor.

Fresh and cheeky – if only occasionally exaggerated and moaning – the film is full of exciting accents that revitalize old-fashioned history for the current time.

Of all the brave decisions made in the film, casting Camila Cabello in the lead has paid off the most. The singer, who brought her 2018 hit “Havana” to international fame, takes a big step towards becoming a movie star and effortlessly holds court with an excellent cast that includes Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver.

As a whirlwind full of charisma, Cabello embraces the underdog dynamic with airy ease, reminiscent of Amy Adams in “Enchanted”.

The writing style is almost as intelligent as this movie, full of details that update the tired, rampant sexist story. This new “Cinderella” turns out to be a fable of empowerment and self-determination. Cabello’s character is not the type who is waiting to be “saved” as the ultimate trophy woman, but is full of personality and zest for action. Cinderella is a passionate fashion designer who is unsure of her suitability for royal life.

Outstanding performances like “Rhythm Nation”, “Material Girl”, “Am I Wrong” and a finale of “Let’s Get Loud” drive the momentum into a joyous frenzy. It’s all you can do to keep from jumping to your feet and cheering for an encore.

RATING: 3.5 stars out of 4.

“Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings”

Disney’s decision to bring the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe exclusively to theaters makes sense. Strengthened with breathtaking effects and booming set pieces, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a film that would not have quite the same effect on a television or telephone.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton (“Just Mercy”) shows a flair for weaving light touches with the heavier material to keep the momentum flowing. Simu Liu plays the title character, a member of a magical martial arts family who is thrown into an interdimensional battle. At the beginning he works as a valet with his best friend Katy – played by the funny Awkwafina in an inspired casting.

The script cleverly combines the film with the larger MCU saga, especially as a companion piece to “Iron Man 3”.

The trio meets with his long-lost sister Xu (Meng’er Zhang) and competes with the weird actor Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) against their dark father Xu (Tony Leung), who wears ten rings that give him godlike powers. In his obsession with resurrecting his lost wife by forging a portal into a mystical realm full of war-hungry monsters, Xu endangers everyone around him.

Aside from the geeky subtext, the film manages to connect with non-MCU-obsessed by offering thrills, chills, and laughter. It helps that the cast is so skilled. Liu, a trained stuntman, convinces through and through in the action scenes, has mastered his emotional range and shows his intense appearance to show a relaxed, self-ironic mood that makes him likeable for miles.

As the MCU builds its next generation of heroes – with the Eternals and their roster of new characters looming on the horizon – “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” rises to the top with verve. It will be fascinating how the servants who have become heroes, Shang-Chi and Katy take the helm and move forward.

RATING: 3 out of 4 stars.
Seen on Thursday at the Harkins Arizona Pavilions.

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Joseph Hubbard

Joseph Hubbard is a seasoned journalist passionate about uncovering stories and reporting on events that shape our world. With a strong background in journalism, he has dedicated his career to providing accurate, unbiased, and insightful news coverage to the public.

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