The Green Knight

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Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Barry Keoghan

Sometimes, we need to escape from reality. An obvious thing to say perhaps, but movies (or at least the majority of) are supposed to help us do that. Fantasy is, arguably, one of the best genres of fiction to help us with said escapism, and the original story of The Green Knight is nothing but fantastical. Originally a 14th-century poem called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (author unknown), the story is something of an Arthurian legend, a spin-off tale from that of the famous king and his Knights of the Round Table (Gawain being one of those knights). Taking on a piece of classic medieval literature is bold at the best of times, but to adapt something that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways could be quite the challenge. Has editor/writer/director David Lowery met that challenge, or is it one sword that should have been left firmly in the stone?

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

4 STARS

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Destin Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham, Andrew Lanham
Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but here we are. Many people have waited a very long time for this, longer than anyone should have had to wait. We have, finally, a hot lead character in a Marvel movie.

I am, of course, kidding. We have not waited a long time for this, because every Marvel lead is a beautiful specimen. However, we HAVE waited forever for an Asian lead in a predominantly Asian movie from Marvel, and we finally have it. The character of Shang-Chi goes way back to the early 1970s in his conception, and his potential for movie greatness goes back to the early 2000s. He’s had a hell of a ride, and now here he is, front and centre, ready to be the one for young people of Asian descent to look up to and recognise themselves in within the MCU. As historical and pivotal as this movie is, does it also live up to the many expectations that come with a Marvel movie, or is it one ring short of a set?

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The Suicide Squad

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Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Peter Capaldi, Alice Braga

The Suicide Squad may sound like a familiar title. Haven’t we had this movie before? You’re not wrong. The 2016 David Ayer-directed Suicide Squad (sans ‘The’) was a financial success but a critical bomb. Fast forward to 2018 and James Gunn is hired by Warner Bros. after an extremely unfair (but later rectified) firing from Disney/Marvel Studios to helm basically any DCEU property he fancies. After being offered a Superman project and turning it down, he decided on a Suicide Squad reboot, which makes complete sense: after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) Vols. 1 & 2 (not to mention the Scooby-Doo and Avengers movies), Gunn has proven himself an auteur of the superhero-group-dramatic-comedy genre. Has he managed to work his honed magic for the lagging DCEU, or are the Squad just as much a lost cause as many of the DCEU’s projects?

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Black Widow

4 STARS

Director: Cate Shortland
Writer: Eric Pearson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone

So, here we are, two years after Marvel’s last cinematic release (Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019 – thanks, Covid-19), beginning the MCU’s Phase 4 with a character who has been overdue her own movie for quite some time. Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, has been an Avenger since before the Avengers even knew they were Avengers, always kicking names and taking ass before that quote was ever misquoted, and giving girls and women representation in what started out as very much a man’s (Tony Stark’s) world. As the first female Avenger in the MCU to get her own solo movie (The Wasp’s involvement in Ant-Man and The Wasp notwithstanding and Captain Marvel being post-Avengers assembling), it’s arguable that a lot stands on her shoulders. Has the movie been up to standard, both as an MCU movie and doing female characters justice, or is it too little too late for this Widow?

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In the Heights

4 STARS

Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Everybody must know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is by now. The creator of the hit musical Hamilton has his name on just about everybody’s lips these days. Long before the phenomenon that is Hamilton, Miranda was but a simple musical-loving Puerto Rican growing up in New York City. Cut to college and meeting playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, Miranda’s first creation, In the Heights, premieres in 2005 and hits Broadway in 2007. Its success meant Miranda could turn his hand to other mainstream ventures, such as creating Hamilton, writing the music and lyrics for Bring It On: The Musical, writing songs for Disney’s Moana and popping up in cameos and full roles in television and film. But it all comes back around to that first successful run for In the Heights, which finally has its big-screen adaptation after more than ten years of faffing. Is it all that Miranda/Heights fans could want, or are we left unusually wanting more from Miranda?

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