Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022): A Catastrophically Legendary Failure That Will Make You Hate Cats and Dogs

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King), Mark Koetsier (Kung Fu Panda, Big Hero 6), and Chris Bailey (X2: X-Men United, Kim Possible) and stars Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The LEGO Batman Movie), Ricky Gervais (Night at the Museum, The Office), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs), George Takei (Star Trek, Kubo and the Two Strings), Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show, The Brink), Gabriel Iglesias (Magic Mike, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Shazam!), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction). This film centers around Hank, a dog who aspires to become a samurai. Once given the first glimmer of this goal, Hank is taken under the wing of Jimbo, a once great samurai, as he aspires to fulfill his destiny.

I am going to start off this review by stating something that may piss off some of my readers. I have never seen “Blazing Saddles.” I just have not had the time. In fact, as I started doing this review and refreshed myself through the cast on Wikipedia, I found out that this film is a loose adaptation of Mel Brooks’s well-known western comedy. To add to the similiarities, Mel Brooks even has a role in this film as The Shogun. I cannot confirm how many similarities and differences there are between this film and “Blazing Saddles.” Sure, there are some obvious ones I could make without having seen both films.

“Paws of Fury” is animated while “Blazing Saddles” is live-action. That’s the obvious difference. “Paws of Fury” is more focused on samurai whereas “Blazing Saddles” takes a more wild west approach with its story. In a way, this is almost a reversal of what “The Magnificent Seven” did as a redo of “Seven Samurai.” Because there is a solid chance that “The Magnificent Seven” would not be what it is if it were not for Akira Kurosawa’s creation. There is also a consensus that “Blazing Saddles” would not be made today due to the current climate and there being a greater strive to be politically correct in comedy. Obviously, this movie is mostly meant for families and children.

But children, mostly.

God help us all.

Some make the claim that “Blazing Saddles” is a movie that can not, and maybe should not be made today. They’re right. That is, if you are going to make it into something like this. “Paws of Fury” is the worst animation of the year.

I should not be too surprised that this movie is lacking in any and all luster. Because in my animation reviews, I often talk about Pixar as the gold standard on how you make an animated movie. Literally, this year, they released “Turning Red,” which slaps. And they followed that up with “Lightyear,” which is inferior by Pixar standards, but better than many movies could ever hope to be. They are a tough act to follow, but one thing that often separates Pixar from the competition is the studio’s ability to tell mature stories that do not rely heavily on cheap comedy gags that appear as if they were written for infants.

This movie is from Nickelodeon Studios. I have some nostalgia for Nickelodeon as “SpongeBob SquarePants” was my goto cartoon when I was younger. As I look back on the series, the early seasons had great writing, gutbusting comedy that ages like a fine wine. However, as we get through seasons 4, 5, 6, and so on, all of that trickles down. Every other joke is disposable, some character motivations and feelings come off as over the top, and they sometimes rely on sight gags that go too far. Similarly, this movie is no stranger to toilet humor. You want to know how much this movie relies on toilet humor? The main villain’s motivation literally involves the use of a super-sized toilet. I wish I were making this up. I’ll remind you, there is literally an animated movie called “FLUSHED AWAY,” which literally involves the use of toilets to further the plot, that takes itself more seriously than this when it comes to humor and writing. I think that toilet humor can be funny in doses and depending on the execution. As an adult, it is a bit hard to take it seriously however. Part of it is because it feels like the cop out of comedy. Fart noises can get a laugh, but fart-related jokes are so easy to write. All it takes is one noise. There’s very little effort involved. This movie tries to get creative with fart jokes by the end, but it did not change the fact that the whole concept of the joke felt lazy and forced. As much flack as they get, I think puns have more thought put into them than fart jokes. You might as well say that fart jokes can sometimes be… A pain in the butt.

I’ll see myself out. I have two working eyes.

Overall, “Paws of Fury” is very much that typical hero’s journey structure we’ve seen many times before. The potential hero is an unlikely one, but for whatever reason, the hero will do whatever he can to achieve his goals. On the surface, “Paws of Fury” feels like “Kung Fu Panda” if it were more samurai-based as opposed to martial arts-based. Except that “Kung Fu Panda,” while I remember it having maybe one joke that felt kiddy, did not treat its audience like morons. I already talked about the fart jokes, but this movie also has meta humor infused at times, part of which includes the notion that the flick “is only 85 minutes long.” I noticed over the years that there is a tendency amongst some people, and I include myself in this on occasion, to watch a film on the shorter side. It’s a time-saver, it helps with the attention span, and if you have extra time on your hands, it means you can possibly bang out a couple movies in a single Friday night. Given the frequency in which it appears, I am assuming that meta humor was always the intention from the film’s writers. But when I heard the “85 minutes long” joke, it only made me assume that the writers wanted to rush the project to its end. Like, okay, here’s a throwaway line! Let’s get to that pristine runtime!

This film has a stacked cast ranging from Michael Cera to Samuel L. Jackson to Ricky Gervais to even Michelle Yeoh. This film is not short on big names, and it’s almost as if they prioritized these names to get butts in seats over the story. Don’t get me wrong, just about every cast member plays their part to the best of their ability. Samuel L. Jackson does his best not to get in trouble with the parents who will be dragged by their kids to see this movie. Michael Cera is convincing enough to play a lanky dog hero who kind of sounds like a dork. Ricky Gervais does his best channeling his inner annoyed Golden Globes host personality as Ika Chu, a feline who wants to rid of a nearby impoverished town. Overall, the cast does their best with the stiff and sometimes lazy writing. But it does not change the fact that they are in a movie whose characters are mostly given stiff and sometimes lazy writing. This movie is not offensive, but it is almost uninspired. It feels crazy to say because it has an awesome opening sequence that had joyful Saturday morning cartoon vibes. After that, it’s all downhill. It goes to show that even when you have the competent direction and animation, it is not enough to hide a terrible script.

The one positive I can give this film is that it somewhat reminded me of something I learned in school. It may as well be the film’s takeaway for its younger viewers. There are films out there that unveil unlikely heroes, and this one is no exception. It’s the whole expect the unexpected cliché, but there was a scene that reminded me of a picture where a bunch of animals are given an examination to “climb that tree.” Of course, the monkey is the only one in the group who seems enthused by this order. The penguin, the elephant, the fish, the seal, and the canine are noticeably more hesitant. This idea could be applied to the entire film because it is about a dog who is assigned to watch over a town of cats. The dog is also trained by a cat to become a samurai. This leads to a particular moment in the training montage where we literally see a climbing course. I won’t say much more, but this scene is executed in a way that reminded me of “climb that tree.” It goes to show that there is more than one way to teach or learn something. Although for everything else in the movie, it pales in comparison. The movie is not funny, some of the characters are occasionally annoying, and it is full of clichés that have been done better. Do not waste your time. I have seen other animated movies this year that are better than this one.

In the end, “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is certainly legendary. More specifically, a legendary failure. Will kids like this movie? Yes, they probably will. And fortunately, as far as kids movies go, this is better for them than “Tom & Jerry” given how the protagonist is probably a more positive influence on younger minds. But I found myself more annoyed by this movie than anything else. I do not have kids, just to be clear, but would I let my kid watch this movie? Maybe. But I might have to leave the room because I can only take so much. But at the same time, I would worry, because given the movie’s script, it might only dumb down my kid should they keep watching it. Maybe they will grow up with the film, but not watch it past say their teen years. I did not know going in that this was an adaptation of “Blazing Saddles,” but I do know that I am going to give “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” a 3/10.

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have another one coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Gray Man!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Blazing Saddles?” What did you think about that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022): A Bloated, Mind-Melting, Exciting Ride Through the Multiverse

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is directed by Daniels, the same team behind the 2016 film “Swiss Army Man” featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a dead body who communicates by farting. And if you think that is weird, you are not ready for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” possibly the greatest title in film history. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” stars Michelle Yeoh (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Crazy Rich Asians), Stephanie Hsu (The Path, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Ke Hey Quan (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Goonies), Jenny Slate (The Secret Life of Pets, Gifted), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee, Shadowhunters), James Hong (Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Blade Runner), and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Knives Out). This film, or in a case like the one we are dealing with, this drug trip, centers around the character of Evelyn Quan Wang, a Chinese immigrant who owns a laundromat with her husband. When financial stability becomes an issue for Wang, she suddenly finds herself on a journey through the multiverse where she learns about the many lives she could have lived. She uses this newfound knowledge to hopefully save her own universe, along with several others, from a cataclysm.

I want to start off this review by reminding you that I waited a couple months to see this movie. I knew what it was. I knew the plot. I knew that a lot of people liked it. But due to other commitments, other movies, not to mention planning to see it once or twice only to have my plans scrapped, I had to wait on “Everything Everywhere All at Once” like I was in line at comic con. Fun fact, I am at a time of my life where I typically enjoy going to the movies by myself. I have nothing against going with friends, but there are many cases where I would prefer going to the cinema alone because as a reviewer, this allows me to concentrate harder on what’s on screen. But one reason why I waited so long to see “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is because if I wanted to go see this movie by myself, I could have. I would have probably had a good time. That said, this looked like a movie I had to see with someone else. So I invited my dad, told him I think he would like the film, and we were going to hopefully have a ball.

Without giving much detail, I think my previous sentiment is one to keep in mind, should you decide to watch “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” because it is a movie that is watchable on your own, but the more people you have around you, the better the experience will probably end up being. It is the same reason why comedy shows are better with sold out crowds. The laughter is that much more contagious.

Also I will remind you, this is a multiverse-spanning movie. The previous two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have brought audiences into the multiverse in their own ways and have done ridiculous numbers in terms of the box office. Unlike those films, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an original idea. Of those two previously indicated unoriginal ideas, one of them literally has the words “Multiverse of Madness” in the title. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” is THE REAL MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Eat your heart out, Doctor Strange! I contend that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” could end up permanently owning the crown for the greatest multiverse-centric movie of all time. It is that good.

If you have been following me this year, I have talked about a specific idea within certain films. “CODA” and “Belle” are prime examples of this. That theme is a perfect bridging between extraordinary and ordinary. While those films showcase this idea to excellent degrees with a non-deaf, music-obsessed child living in a deaf family and a shy, rural-housed teenage girl entering a social media paradise where she becomes a star, these are not new ideas. Heroes always start off ordinary and then find ways to become extraordinary throughout their adventure. If they stayed ordinary, they would be one-dimensional or boring. But if you break down “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” it is not necessarily a film about saving the multiverse as much as it is about keeping a family together, keeping each other from going bizzerk. Because within the confines of alternate realities, mastering kung fu, superstardom, the main family of the film has to deal with the potential closure of their business, potential divorce, and as far as the parents are concerned, potential rebellion from the daughter.

Speaking of potential, I think “Everything Everywhere All at Once” had a ton of potential, and that potential was perfectly realized within this film’s small budget. For comparison, another recent multiverse-centric story, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” had a budget of $200 million. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” on the other hand… A non-sequel, original idea not based on any preexisting intellectual property, not set in a cinematic universe whatsoever, cost $25 million to make. That is nothing to sweat at by any means. $25 million is a lot of money. Plus, there are movies that came out this year that cost less to make. “Hustle,” the last movie I reviewed, was less expensive. But to be fair, it was more limited in its theatrical release. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” supports the notion that smaller can be better. The more time you spend on crafting a compelling story and the less time you spend on the spectacle and paying Patrick Stewart to play Professor X again, the better the payoff.

Through her portrayal of Evelyn, Michelle Yeoh encapsulates what it is like to be a normal human being with financial issues. We see her trek through the film while her ordinary life continues to go down the crapper. Changes come in every which way and it is not only affecting her, but the people she knows. This movie plays around with the idea of one person seeing not only other versions of themselves, but their jealousy towards the lives the alternate selves tend to enjoy. Evelyn sees versions of herself that excel at kung fu or acting. If I saw myself in other universes living as say a successful singer or a baseball player, I would definitely consider rethinking my life choices or finding a way to embody my other selves.

Throughout the film’s runtime, we are heavily exposed to other members of the Wang family. Those who appear alongside Evelyn are her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and her father, Gong Gong (James Hong). Each character has their own individualities and quirks that make the film worthwhile. There is an incredible element of the film where we see the supposed differences between Evelyn and Joy in terms of how they live their lives, how they view the world. It makes for some entertaining moments of the film while also effectively progressing each character arc.

I also have to give a major shoutout to Jamie Lee Curtis, who gives an incredible performance as Deirdre Beaubeirdre, an IRS inspector who takes no nonsense whatsoever. I admire Jamie Lee Curtis as an actress, so I hope this is not taken the wrong way, but her character does such a great job at appearing so boring and yet so fiendish. She looks like she could ruin someone’s life in a snap. Of the film’s supporting characters, she is arguably the highlight.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an arguable contender to be the strangest and yet most ambitious film I have watched in my life. One of my biggest compliments I gave to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is how they handled Benedict Cumberbatch’s variants from a looks perspective. When it comes to Evelyn in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” I would say a similar assessment applies. But the script and direction of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” gives Michelle Yeoh a greater excuse to provide a more solid, perhaps down to earth performance than the one Cumberbatch gave in his multiversal feature. There is so much that happens in this movie, not only in terms of the story, but the overall scope of… everything… At various points, the movie hinges to a precipice where things are almost completely out of control. There is a moment in this movie where I could see a lot of people thinking it is crazy enough, only to shock themselves in a matter of minutes with what comes up afterwards. If you are looking for a predictable movie, you have come to the wrong place. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is probably the most unpredictable movie I have seen since “Parasite.”

If you have not watched it yet, you need to check this movie out, and as much as I could go on about it, I am going to let you see for yourself, because if you are anything like my dad when he sat next to me in the theater, taking every single scene in… I think you should prepare to drop some unexpected f-bombs at the screen the moment you witness some of the wondrous sights this one of a kind feature seals within its doors.

In the end, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is one of the best movies I have ever seen. A24 is a crazy distributor. I either truly like a movie from them, which was the case with say “Eighth Grade” or “The Disaster Artist.” Or I attempt to make a case as to why some of their films are atrociously awful like “Midsommar” or “Zola.” There never feels like there is an between at times. And even if there is, I still have something supposedly notable or passionate to say about their films. Even “The Last Movie Star,” starring Burt Reynolds, which I thought was the definition of mediocre, elicited a passionate reaction out of me as to why I did not particularly think that film was the best. “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which is certainly above mediocre, is no exception to letting me bring out the passion. Oddly enough, I have a feeling I could somehow end up appreciating it more with a second viewing. If the jump after a second viewing is anything like the one I had for “Belle” recently, it could potentially be in the conversation for my top 5 movies of all time. If there is one movie that you should see by the end of the year, it is this one. I am going to give “Everything Everywhere All at Once” a 10/10.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is now playing in theaters and is available to watch on VOD.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for my next reviews, which are for the brand new blockbusters, “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Lightyear!” I watched both movies this week and I am excited to share my thoughts! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Everything Everywhere All at Once?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that you saw this year? New or old, doesn’t matter. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021): This Ring-Filled Story Had Me Engaged Until the End

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, The Glass Castle) and stars Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience, Taken), Awkwafina (Raya and the Last Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Meng’er Zhang (Oliver Twist, Finding Destiny), Fala Chen (The Undoing, No Regrets), Florian Munteanu (Creed II, Bogat), Benedict Wong (Raya and the Last Dragon, Annihilation), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book, Gandhi), and Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood For Love). This film is the 25th feature-length project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is about a guy named Shaun, also known as Shang-Chi, who reunites with his family and faces his past as he encounters the ten rings organization.

The Marvel train can’t stop, the Marvel train won’t stop. And honestly, despite a couple duds over the years like “Thor: The Dark World,” I am glad this train has yet to grind itself to a halt. Even though they were not perfect, I enjoyed the few Marvel shows we’ve gotten over the past number of months. I will also say that I enjoyed “Black Widow.” But additionally, as I watched some of this content, part of me became a tad worried, because I had a feeling regarding Marvel that I last felt in 2017 when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” came out. While both movies had their moments, I think both “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” brought some level of disappointment to the table. And honestly, this feels weird to say, I may have had mixed feelings on “Thor: Ragnarok” too, even though I did find joy in it. Much like 2017, the 2021 Marvel slate has given viewers a fair share of “good” but it has yet to deliver that one gem that is comparable to say “Thor” or “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Let me tell you something, I’m going to confirm straight out of the gate, “Shang-Chi” is not my favorite comic book movie of 2021. It’s got some tough competition with James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” which received my first perfect score of the year when I reviewed it, but I think that Marvel greatness is coming back with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I would say that as a Marvel fan, I was excited for “Black Widow” when they first announced it, and they executed it in a way that could please a Marvel fan like myself. But with “Shang-Chi,” I think it is going to do a better job at getting a wider audience to appreciate it over time. This is not just your standard Marvel movie with all your heroics, big booms, and such. This is a story that I feel could appeal to almost anyone. I would be SHOCKED if anyone comes out of this movie giving it a 1/10. Why? Because at the end of the day, this movie has one fun scene after the next with dozens of cool ideas and likable characters along the way. While I would not call this movie the next “Back to the Future,” I would put it aside that film in terms of accessibility to all audiences. Because that film is sci-fi, romance, comedy, adventure, and action all in one. It has a little something for everyone and each “something” is done to perfection. “Shang-Chi” I would say is a fine mix of action, mythology, comedy, family drama, and adventure.

I have never said this about any Marvel movie. Maybe with the exception of “Guardians of the Galaxy…” I would show this to my mother someday. For the record, she is *not* in the target audience for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know the MCU can appeal to a wide number of people (Look at “Endgame’s” box office!), but these movies were not ever something that would appeal to my mother specifically. Maybe if I was 8, dad was busy, I could not go to the movies by myself, or if we had some sort of family outing, she would have gone to see one of these Marvel films with me, but I would be surprised if she went to one of these films because she wanted to or if she had any excitement to check one out. I would not be surprised if I had to maybe bribe my mother to watch this film on one occasion or another, but if my mother asked me, “Would I like ‘Shang-Chi?'” My answer would be a “Yes.” And part of that is because of the heart of the film. The heart being, Simu Liu and Awkwafina as Shaun and Katy. These are two people who have been best friends for years and to me they are arguably the most fun pair in recent cinematic history. While I will say that “The Suicide Squad” is still my favorite comic book movie, not to mention favorite movie in general of 2021, I think “Shang-Chi” is going to arguably end up being this year’s biggest crowd-pleaser.

Speaking of, shoutout to Simu Liu for giving a great performance as the character of Shaun. I have not seen much of Liu’s work. I know he is one of the starring roles in “Kim’s Convenience,” which I hear is a really good show, but I have not seen much of it. Frankly, Liu’s performance as Shang-Chi, which to me, evoked a vibe between fun and brooding, made me excited to see what else he could do in the MCU. As for “Kim’s Convenience,” who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to it. But I have way too many things on my plate when it comes to content and life, so we shall see. Also, the man is quite the action star! In the first half of the film, there’s some choreography that comes off as butter smooth. It feels natural, exciting, and fast. I love it! There’s not much evidence in the film that Liu ever needed a double while doing the action scenes, which if anything, pleases me to no end. One of my favorite action stars today is Tom Cruise because he will take any opportunity, practically to meme-worthy points, to do his own stunts. I’m glad that Simu Liu is taking an opportunity to do the same.

You want action? This movie’s got it! This movie does what Marvel does best and delivers one of its finest examples of quality. “Shang-Chi” does a great job at mixing epic action with gutbusting humor, and this is heavily exemplified in the bus scene. The scene is simple. Shaun and Katy are on a bus together, a guy comes up to Shaun, wants his pendant, and he just starts busting everybody in this magnificently fast series of punches and kicks. I won’t go into what makes the scene funny, as I had no idea what was going to happen going in so I’ll let everyone else do the same. However, what makes this scene so awesome is that it sort of grounds the movie despite being in something as fantastical as the MCU. There’s not really any superhuman crap going on here. Well, kind of… There’s some suspension of disbelief that could be brought to the table. It’s just martial arts and trying to survive. Not only is this a breathtaking scene from the heavy duty stunts and eye-popping camerawork, but it also does a good job at progressing the story of the film and establishing a key point of Shaun and Katy’s relationship. Katy’s reactions to this incident could not have been written any better.

Now, you may have seen in the trailer that Wong of “Doctor Strange” fame was going to make an appearance in “Shang-Chi.” If you wanted to know, Wong is in the movie for a number of minutes, but he does not have too much of an impact on the plot from start to finish. He’s in the fight club, he’s in the movie a little later, won’t say when, but if you are a fan of Wong, which I am, I’m sure that his appearance in this film won’t disappoint. Honestly, this movie made me like Wong more, because it did a good job at making him show off a fun personality. Here it is shown that Wong seems to be the kind of guy that you would not mind going out and a having a few drinks with.

As far as origin stories go, “Shang-Chi” excels. In fact, it is up there with “Thor” as one of my favorite origin stories of the MCU. When it comes to the story of this film, much like “Thor,” one of the core aspects of the film is the family drama a good number of the characters experience for themselves. Much of “Thor” was a battle between two brothers trying to impress their father, and in “Shang-Chi,” it’s a situation where the main protagonist is doing whatever he can to disassociate himself with his father. The family drama in “Shang-Chi” had my attention all the way through because I cared about the characters and there comes a point where Shang-Chi’s past catches up to him and he seems to regret everything that happened in his childhood. This is what makes him a broken hero, not so squeaky clean, and much of the backstory and flashbacks regarding what made Shang-Chi who he is happened to be incredibly compelling.

Oh yeah, Awkwafina is a goldmine in this movie. I already mentioned that the relationship between Simu Liu and Awkwafina in “Shang-Chi” is one of my favorite relationships in recent cinema, but part of what makes that relationship blossom is Awkwafina’s performance in the film as Katy. She feels so hyperactive, fun, and the real life version of caffeine! I already admire Awkwafina as a performer, just look at what she did in “The Farewell,” one of my favorite movies of 2019. But “Shang-Chi” proves that one of her strengths is comedy. And honestly, she’s having one heck of a year as far as her resume is concerned, because I already loved her in “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which turned out to be at one point, what I would consider to be the year’s best film. While I will say I like “Raya and the Last Dragon” a bit better than “Shang-Chi,” I think “Shang-Chi” will be a better reference to Awkwafina’s talent as a performer as it gives her a space to be dynamic and all over the place. I went through this entire movie wanting her to be my best friend, I think that is the best thing I can say about her. Honestly, if there is one thing I want after seeing “Shang-Chi,” it’s not just more of Katy, it’s more of Awkwafina in general. After seeing her in this film, I went from liking her, to legit wanting to treat her to lunch.

The flaws present in “Shang-Chi” are minimal. Again, I go back to my “Back to the Future” comparison, this is a film that I think just about anyone could enjoy, but it does not mean it is perfect. Before posting this review, I saw this film twice, and both times, I walked out saying the same thing, which is weird to say as a Marvel fan. This film becomes way too extravagant towards the end. You know how a lot of Marvel movies by the end like “The Avengers” or “Iron Man 3” will end in this big climactic battle? Everything is balls to the wall and flying in your face! CGI is everywhere! You can feel the production budget right in between your eyes! “Shang-Chi,” much like those movies, has that. But in the case of “Shang-Chi,” even though the film is by no means small, it feels weird seeing this big climactic sequence when the first half of the film feels natural and clean in terms of its action scenes. I will not do a deep dive into the second half of the film, but a lot happens and sometimes it can be overwhelming. It’s good stuff. Sometimes it’s great stuff, But when you take the fight choreography in the beginning of the film and compare it with everything towards the end, I find it to be a weird change of pace, even though it does at times match the opening scene, which by the way is an incredible opening scene, one of the best in the MCU. My question to myself is, if the story and characters were unlikable, how much would my opinion differ? It’s just something I want to keep on the backburner.

If you read my review for “Black Widow,” one of my complaints about that film, even though I liked it, is that at times, it felt like it was trying too hard to set up other MCU content. And this also brings in a growing complaint, or concern depending on how you look at it, that I have with the Marvel Disney+ shows like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” My worry for the future of the MCU is that I will either have to watch a movie to understand what goes on in a television show, or the other way around. I am accustomed to seeing all of the MCU’s content on one specific medium, specifically feature films. As much as I like some things about the MCU shows, watching the MCU is starting to feel like homework. That’s not the case with “Shang-Chi,” and I say that for a couple reasons. First, the movie in general kicks ass. Second, the film feels like a contained story. Sure, it has Abomination in it. Sure, it has Wong in it. But “Shang-Chi” focuses best on being a great movie first as opposed to being a commercial for other MCU content. If you are not an MCU fan and want a place to start, I would not stop you from watching this first. It’s fun, action-packed, hilarious, and it has a little something for every viewer.

Also, I want to just say two words… Hotel. California.

In the end, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is one of the best movies of the year, and also one of the easiest to recommend to people. Going back to what I said about “The Suicide Squad,” which to be clear, is currently my favorite movie of the year, perhaps by a long shot. That is a film that I immensely enjoyed, arguably because it was made for someone like me. When it comes to “Shang-Chi,” there’s obviously a target audience, but I would not mind showing this movie to someone outside of that target audience and seeing what they think of it because I think they would get a kick out of it. The action is big, the pacing is fast, and I am looking forward to seeing more of Shang-Chi in the MCU. As for his pal Katy, I would like to call her my new best friend. I’m going to give “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” an 8/10.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is now playing in theaters everywhere and it is also available in 3D and IMAX.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Malignant” which has been out for over a week. Take this statement however you want, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this movie. Let’s just leave it at that. Also, just recently I went to a local theater to check out “Copshop,” so I will have a review on that coming your way as well. If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings?” What did you think about it? Or, what upcoming Marvel project, I’ll even include television shows, are you looking forward to the most? For me, it’s “Eternals.” The concept sounds engaging, the cast is incredible, a lot of it is done on location, and Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao is the director. THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Christmas (2019): I Gave You My Wasted Time

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“Last Christmas” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh (Mechanic: Resurrection, Star Trek: Discovery), and Emma Thompson (Saviing Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility). This film is about a girl named Kate who is not the most responsible person alive. Despite that, we see her working at a Christmas store under a rather quirky boss. Meanwhile, she encounters a fella named Tom, who she gets to know throughout the movie. As Kate keeps running into Tom, they develop a close relationship that defines a majority of the film.

Just… Out of every movie… I saw this one. THIS IS THE CRAP I PUT WITH FOR YOU GUYS! I saw “Last Christmas” a week and a half before it came out. I would have put this review out earlier, but due to going on a brief getaway to Rhode Island Comic Con, a couple of other reviews being more important, life, and maybe a slight lack of motivation, I delayed this review until after the movie came out. Having said that, I can simply say that this is one of the most forgettable movies I have seen all year. And the little that I do remember, is honestly not favorable.

Let me just remind you all that this movie is directed by Paul Feig. I have not seen all of his work, but what I have seen (aside from “Freaks and Geeks”) is not that great. In fact, he directed the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, which quite honestly destroyed my brain. The impact I have then faced from that movie is one that I will probably never want to achieve ever again. For the record, I don’t hate women, I just want good movies. And having said that, I would have rather seen these women under a completely different brand name. Originality would have probably helped these ladies just a little bit. Compared to most bad movies that I have seen, this is probably one I can think of where I felt at least slightly offended watching it.

With that in mind, “Last Christmas” is a slightly better movie. It’s not good, but for starters, I wasn’t offended. It was a tad more charming overall. But much like 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” “Last Christmas” just ain’t that funny. A lot of the attempts at humor just didn’t land. Granted, I still remember my theatrical experience from seeing “Ghostbusters” and slightly chuckling at ONE joke. Now for the good news and bad news regarding “Last Christmas.” The good news is, I laughed more during “Last Christmas” than I did during “Ghostbusters.” The bad news, in two parts, is that the humor was barely even in place, and I don’t quite remember what exactly was funny. In fact, remember how I said I wasn’t offended by “Last Christmas?” That is completely true. BUT, I was in fact, annoyed.

I saw this coming, as if the title of the film didn’t already give enough away. But the song “Last Christmas” plays in this movie. For those of you who know me in real life, I do celebrate Christmas. I think it is a fun time of the year, even if it is ultimately an excuse to shove materialism up our butts. But the one thing I am a total Scrooge about when it comes to Christmas, is the overplay of various songs that associate with the particular time of the year. I hear enough of the same regular crap on the radio everyday! The solution IS NOT to play Christmas crap instead! This may sound like nothing, but hearing “Last Christmas” play twice in a few minutes is just as annoying as it is to find out that your friend runs an annual awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best pieces of gum that are stuck on surfaces.

Anyways, let’s focus on the not at all offensive, but also unfunny characters. I will say that despite how this movie is ultimately rather unmemorable and completely lacking in a full sense of joy, I can say that Emilia Clarke managed to make the character of Kate rather charming. Clarke has a likable presence in this film. She takes a character that could have lacked dimension, someone who could have been the most lifeless individual in film history, and it makes her stand out. I guess it helps that Clarke kind of has that “cute as button” quality attached to her when it comes to appearance. For the little that I can pinpoint to and remember regarding this movie, I recall Clarke being all cutesy, which worked for the final product.

As for Clarke’s love interest, he’s kind of resemblant of someone who is dorky, but also rather charismatic in life. There was a point in the film where I was able to buy the chemistry between him and Clarke. At the same time though, the chemistry did not help the movie from being as sigh-worthy as it is. I think I just invented a new worthy term! Cringeworthy can suck it! Overall, their romance feels cliche, but it when it works, it stands out. Despite the little charm that exists when they are together on one occasion or two, it doesn’t entirely make for a masterpiece. Let’s put the characters in a box like this: If I met one of these two in real life, I wouldn’t instantly want to have lunch with them.

Speaking of less than pleasant characters, this movie also has an obnoxious boss. I have to go back and probably watch about thirty or so other movies this year to come up with a conclusion like this and confirm it, but I’ll say… The chemistry between actresses Clarke and Yeoh in this film is probably the least realistic chemistry I have witnessed all year! WHAT?! DID?! I?! WATCH?! When it comes to the scenes between the duo, I originally got a sense that while Clarke was kind of a slacker, I thought Yeoh was just being a bitch to her at times. As the movie goes on… I dunno, I feel as if these first moments between them never happened.

There’s also this subplot involving the boss that involves her and a separate love interest played by Peter Mygind. This has the potential to be funny and charming, but it really just feels like wasted time. And that’s what this movie is… Wasted time. If you are with friends and family this year during the holidays and if this movie’s still out in theaters, just go see “Star Wars.” Granted, that’s kind of irrelevant because I don’t even know how the new “Star Wars” is going to be, but still… just go see “Star Wars.” I command you! Either that, or go to Best Buy and purchase a copy of one of the “Star Wars” films, present it as a gift, and use that as an excuse to those around you to pop it in the DVD player.

In the end, as much as I would love to congratulate Paul Feig for directing a better comedy than “Ghostbusters,” it’s not enough for me. “Last Christmas” honestly feels like a film that could arguably go straight to Lifetime or Hallmark for the holiday season, but since it has a slightly higher production value and big names attached, it got a theatrical release. Emilia Clarke has some slight charm attached to her and there are a couple of chuckleworthy moments. But there’s nothing of real value that I feel I have received from this movie. “Last Christmas” is not something I’d watch when I’m home alone, and I would prefer that it dies hard. I’m going to give “Last Christmas” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have a couple more reviews for you all including my thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit!” I was very excited to check this out last weekend and I will have my review up by sometime next week! I also have passes for tonight to go to a screening of “Honey Boy” starring Shia Labeouf (Transformers, Fury). If I get around to seeing that, I’ll have my review up as soon as possible. If you want to see this, and other great content, follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account! If you want full access to comments and likes, I personally recommend using a WordPress account. And if you are on Facebook and need a movie reviewing moron in your life, check out my Facebook page for more moronic shenanigans! I want to know, did you see “Last Christmas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie directed by Paul Feig? I gotta ask because I need a good one. I have “Spy” and “The Heat” on Blu-ray but I haven’t watched either of them yet. Asking for a friend, or even an enemy in this case! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!