Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 30, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 30, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
In Theaters

I grew up a huge Marvel comic book fan, accumulating a rather large (and retrospectively rather worthless) collection that brought me hours and hours of enjoyment at the cost of doing dishes, mowing lawns and whatever else it took to keep buying more. For the first 3 phases (everything up to Spider-Man: Far From Home) I was very familiar with the heroes and their villains and the last two decades have been rather nostalgic and awe-inspiring with the amazing attention to quality and art from the MSA. But now we are entering Phase 4 and I have to admit, my familiarity is waning, especially with this new hero, Shang-Chi. I’ve actually never even heard of him. If he appeared in any of my comics, his memory has faded. So I was shocked to hear of this major tent-pole release. And to make it more intriguing, they were hiring an unknown actor, Simu Liu, with Awkwafina, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Yeoh and Benedict Wong as the only familiar faces on the screen. The audacity. I only point this out because it just shows that faith in overlord Kevin Feige and his vision is very well-placed. Shang-Chi is just a seemingly simple San Franciscan who, along with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina), valet cars for a living. But when his past is forced into the light, he must finally face his family and his destiny, ultimately revealing his amazing powers to the world. This film works on so many levels. As a superhero film, it is an excellent and vibrant origin story, setting up a new narrative that we can’t wait to see play out. As a martial arts picture it has spectacular fighting and beautifully choreographed sequences that look like they belong in a Zhang Yimou film instead of the MCU. While I’m sure Feige can take some of the credit for this, its writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton who really delivers. Destin’s 2013 Short Term 12 (starring Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson in the role that made her a star) was one of the best films of that year and proof that he is a great visual storyteller. But with a big budget, he has assumingly made Disney proud with such a stellar accomplishment as this. It is a complex and memorable story, stunningly told by a top-notch production team and an impressive cast of actors who I can’t wait to see again in their next adventures. A

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
Streaming on Netflix

Former The Joy of Painting icon Bob Ross seems to be everywhere these days, as his image almost neutralizes negativity and bad thoughts when there is so much of it floating around, pervading the very air we breathe. But now, of course, someone is possibly trying to taint that icon slightly with this documentary about the artist and his legacy. Before you jump in, if you don’t want your image of him to be tarnished in your mind, then you will still probably be okay. The film will make you sad as you learn about his private life, and more importantly, his death and after-math, but he is largely still the same lovely man at the end as he was in the beginning. The drama comes from his business partners, the Kowalski’s and how they basically screwed his biological son, Steve Ross, out of his birthright. It’s essentially a one-sided hit piece on them, that could all be true, but only a few parties were willing to elaborate and corroborate because apparently everyone they tried to get on the doc were afraid to get sued by the old couple. Again, that might be true, but we might never know. What truths we do get to learn about are the happy and sad times that surrounded Bob Ross and that 26 years after his tragic death, he is still bringing his joy to people world-wide, and I do hope that doesn’t end anytime soon. B-