Movie reviews: new releases for September 3


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  • Marvel Studios / Disney
  • Simu liu in Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings

Cinderella **

There’s one level that you want to give points to this latest adaptation of the oft-told fairy tale for the chances it takes, but at some point the chances you take have to work, too. In a kingdom far and far away, Ella (Camila Cabello) is stuck in a life of chore with her stepmother (Idina Menzel), dreaming of making her way as a clothing designer. Coincidentally, Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) – the lazy son of the King (Pierce Brosnan) and the Queen (Minnie Driver) – is forced to seek a bride and sees the brave Ella. Most of the familiar touchstones are here, but with just a sideways bend, like Billy Porter doing magic as a fabulous godmother. But the great swing makes the musical numbers a mix of originals and pop hits ranging from Queen to J.Lo, and as a result, the movie never feels like it has an identity rooted in our world or something. all new. Meanwhile, doing everything here to dismantle the patriarchy seems like a shrewd notion, but the execution continues to stumble as it makes the gags aware of everyone’s backwardness in their insistence on traditional gender roles. You get the pleasure of Menzel’s voice and a few solid jokes, which makes it all the more disappointing that the slipper usually doesn’t fit. Available September 3 in theaters and through Amazon Prime. (PG)

The gateway ** 1/2
The “Cop on the Edge” tropes are revamped and served with a social worker instead, with a rare opportunity for a lead role by the great Shea Whigham. He plays Parker Jode, a social service social worker in St. Louis whose own history of a volatile childhood family life has led him to abuse substances and come too close to his job. This includes her connection to Dahlia (Olivia Munn), a single mother whose life could be turned upside down when her husband (Zach Avery) is released from prison. Co-writer / director Michele Civetta works overtime to create an atmosphere of corruption and desperation around Parker’s efforts to change the world, one child in danger at a time, and perhaps find some peace with his own. pass. The guts of this thing, however, are pure B-movies like warring drug dealers and shootouts, which too often feel like wasting an incredible supporting cast – Bruce Dern as Parker’s estranged father. ; Frank Grillo as the local crime boss; The mainstay character actor Mark Boone Junior and Keith David. Whigham gets the chance to show off his chops, but it would be great to see him do so in a story that is as much about what goes in his head as it is when he gets hit. Available September 3 at the Megaplex Valley Fair and via VOD. (NR)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ** 1/2
Oh, Marvel Studios, it’s so hard to congratulate yourself on doing something different, when you’re also so determined to make everything the same. Destin director / co-writer Daniel Cretton oversees the story of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the son of millennial Chinese warlord Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) who is removed from his simple life in America by the potentially global obsession of his father. The story is quite dense by MCU standards, involving layers of flashbacks to unveil Shang-Chi’s complicated relationship with his kung fu assassin training, parentage, and estranged sister (Meng’er Zhang). Most of the first hour, however, turns out to be fairly light, focusing on lively martial arts choreography (by veteran two-time stuntman Jackie Chan, Andy Cheng) and entertaining comedic relief of Awkwafina as the best. Shang-Chi’s possible romantic friend / interest. But, with Marvel being Marvel, there’s a need to fit into the biggest comic book universe in history (with varying degrees of success) and come to a conclusion involving as many rampaging CGI beasts as our central character. While Liu is mostly an attractive protagonist, he doesn’t really get a chance to delve into Shang-Chi’s hero’s journey, as it was always meant to end with a teaser for the next episode. Available September 3 in theaters. (PG-13)

Without apologizing **
Maybe I missed the point of Ashley O’Shay’s documentary, but isn’t that an attempt to draw attention to the role of queer women of color in progressive movements? And if so, shouldn’t we get a better idea of ​​how being queer women of color affects our subjects’ efforts? O’Shay follows two Chicago activists, Janaé Bonsu and Bella Gambrell, as the city’s black community continues its fight against police violence, including the murder of Rekia Boyd. We get a lot of insight into the passions that drive their daily lives, as Bonsu pursues his doctorate in social work and Gambrell discusses the impact his incarcerated family members have on his life. Yet throughout the scenes involving controversial Chicago Police Disciplinary Board meetings and street protests, there is too little to distinguish him from a dozen other documentaries about determined activists, despite a few references. symbolic to the way the black community struggles against sexism and homophobia. In a film theoretically about women whose work focuses solely on their identity, the construction of the story too often leaves the impression that it has no identity of its own. Available September 3 via SLFSatHome.org. (NR)

We have to do something ***
Stipulated: It’s one of the laziest forms of criticism to want a movie to be an entirely different type of movie than it turns out to be. That said: Yeah, that’s what I do. In the midst of a severe storm warning, a family of four — teenage Melissa (Sierra McCormick), younger brother Bobby (John James Cronin), and their parents (Pat Healy and Vinessa Shaw) — take refuge in the room. bathroom from their house, then find themselves stuck there when a tree falls from their roof and blocks the door. It’s the foundation for a formidable confined space thriller, which screenwriter Max Booth III stirs up contention as parents struggle with their tenuous relationship in the midst of a crisis, and director Sean King O’Grady, a producer. veteran making his first fictional feature film – creates stunning timeline montages and unsettling individual shots, while allowing Healy’s performances to go completely insane. But as the flashbacks of Melissa and her troubled girlfriend (Lisette Alexis) ultimately reveal, there is a supernatural component to the narrative as well, and this is where the film misses its chance to be a horror play. really remarkable low budget because the backstory remains as cloudy as to be really disturbing. If you pretend it’s a household drama with increased stakes, you’ve got something much stronger than it gets while waiting for a monster to booga-booga. Available September 3 in theaters and on VOD. (NR)

Value ***
See the feature review. Available September 3 via Netflix. (PG-13)


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