Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is here! The film is the second of four MCU cinema releases scheduled for 2021, unlike Black Widow, Shang-Chi is exclusively at cinemas and won't be available on Disney+ Premier Access. Although the pandemic means that not everyone can freely go to the cinema currently, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would be wasted on TV. The scale of the film, particularly the visuals in the second half require a cinema viewing. Just like Black Widow deserved a cinematic release so did Shang-Chi, representation matters. So, is Shang-Chi a classic MCU origin story hit? Yes, it is! This is the first origin story since Captain Marvel in 2019, and this film is clearly the first step to forging a refreshed Avengers team. I am so excited about this film and its characters, I already cannot wait for what's next. Read on for my full review: there will be spoilers beyond this point! Where does Shang-Chi fit in the MCU timeline? The main events of th

Jungle Cruise Review

Disney seem to have a massive schedule of movie releases this year to make up for the lack of movie releases last year. The next is Jungle Cruise starring Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson and Jack Whitehall, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and based on the theme park attraction of the same name. This is not the first Disney movie to have been based on a Disney park ride, pervious films inspired by rides include the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (2003-2017) and The Haunted Mansion (2003). Jungle Cruise won’t be the last either, with a Hollywood Tower of Terror movie in the works currently. If I cast my mind back to the first trailers for Jungle Cruise, I remember not being overly interested, but I thought I’d give the film a go and I am so glad I did. Jungle Cruise is pure fun from beginning to end, a memorable feel good adventure film. Read on for my full review - there will be minor spoilers!

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Jungle Cruise opens in the 16th century as Spanish conquistadors led by Lope De Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) arrive in South America to search for the tears of the moon, a tree with mythical petals that can cure all illnesses, heal all wounds and lift curses. Aguirre and his men, fail in their mission and are cursed to never leave the river or else they will be claimed by the jungle. Jump to 1916 Dr. Lily (Emily Blunt) has her bother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) present her research on the tears of the moon to an association of royal society explorers with the proposal that the petals could be used as part of the war effort. They just require an arrow head, the society refuse and Lily takes things into her own hands, steals the arrowhead and escapes to the Amazon river with McGregor. However, her exploration angers German Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) who wants the tears of the moon for his war efforts, he followers Lily to the Amazon. Lily enlists the help of Skipper Frank (Dwayne Johnson), who is shown to be skilled at navigating the river but spends his days exploiting and conning tourists. Lily, McGregor and Frank, followed by Joachim head on an adventure to discover what truth lies behind the myth. Jungle Cruise is an adventure film, with a mild Indiana Jones vibe, it has Disney charm, cheesy jokes, big laughs and unexpected twists. It's easy watching fun. 


One thing you have to do when watching Jungle Cruise is submit, submit to the cheesy jokes, the over the top narrative sequences and the general chirpy vibe. Take the film at face value - a fun escapist adventure and you'll find yourself enjoying every moment. While I do see the potential for a serious, less cheesy film and was a little disappointed in the opening sequences, once I let go of those notions its easy to get carried away by the film. The chemistry between Blunt and Johnson was unexpected but delightful, both delivering charming performances. They make it easy for audiences to like them, root for them and connect with them. Whitehall is fantastic, not only does he deliver a relatable performance; the perfect pampered English gentleman that has no idea how to survive in the jungle, he is also the most central to the narrative LGBT+ character in a Disney film to date. The film also highlighted the issues faced by Blunt's character Lily as a woman in the early 1900's, not only is she not allowed to present papers, her talents and intelligence are mocked, her choice to wear trousers, although often a point of comedic attention, is considered strange and unladylike. The film itself as part of the adventure genre breaks the mold by having a female lead. 


The film looks fantastic, the clear use of CGI does not diminish the mythical world created in Jungle Cruise. Perhaps this is because the film features the usual visual boldness of other recent Disney live action films - with the vivid use of colour, the ultra sanitized worlds and the slightly over perfect sets. The soundtrack is lacking, often over the top, too chipper and lacking subtlety, sometimes it even felt unmatched to scenes. The sound effects also struggle, with the sound of bags hitting tables and punches offering the same level of noise as giant rock falls. But there is one musical highlight during the sequence where we see what really happened to Aguirre and his men, the tension and the drama is at a peek and the music matches this. With composer James Newton-Howard collaborating with Metallica on an instrumental version of 'nothing else matters' the result of which is fantastic and has me wishing they had collaborated on the whole film score. Another slight issue is the period setting, whilst setting the narrative during World War I does offer motivation for finding the tears of the moon, it gets forgotten about pretty quickly, by the end of the film when Lily returns to London there is no mention of the war. It could have been set two years earlier or four years later with the motivation, to cure illness and the plot would have been exactly the same except the villain may not have been German - which would have been refreshing. 


Overall, Jungle Cruise is a fun, entertaining adventure film perfect for providing audiences with escapism. It's refreshing approach with female and LGBT+ leads revive the adventure genre in a modern way. The few issues are easily forgotten as Jungle Cruise lures you in with its hilarity and outlandish sequences. I have already watched it twice, and I will certainly watch it again. I don't think I've had this much fun at the cinema for a while. 

Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you for reading xx


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