Of course I went and saw the latest Marvel comic book movie.

I’ve missed the theater experience a lot these last 18 months, and though I’m still not entirely comfortable going into public with big crowds, the few times lately I’ve gone to the movies haven’t required me to navigate through a lot of folks.

The theaters have been pretty empty. Admittedly, I’ve been going during off-peak times, but it still appears to me that audiences aren’t flooding the seats the way they used to.

I’m sure that’s for the better, even if we have to miss-out on the communal experience of seeing a movie at the movies.

Shang-Chi: The Legend of the the Rings isn’t worth risking life-threatening infection over, but it is worth a bout with the common cold. (Is that how movies should be reviewed from now on? Such-and-Such is worth food poisoning. Such-and-Such is hardly worth a slight ingrown toenail.) I’ve never been a big martial arts movie fan–I was traumatized by a film I saw on cable at the neighbor’s house that started with ninjas fighting to the death in a boxing ring, or at least that’s how I remember it. But people who do like fighting movies will not be disappointed.

It’s not fair of me, then, to comment on the fighting, but the set pieces are energetic and creative without slipping into silly.

The villain is the most interesting bad guy that we’ve had for a while in an MCU movie. The best villains don’t see themselves as the bad guy, and our antagonist in Shang-Chi has clear, believable motivations that go beyond megalomania.

Awkwafina does her usual thing, and while her overall role in the plot is exaggerated and typical of a Disney film–my kids and I have decided characters like her and Frozen‘s Olaf should be called a “Binks”–she brings an energy and a grounding that’s reflective of how people in the world of the MCU must feel. There can be no denying, at this point in the overall MCU story, that there are incredible people and overwhelming forces at work in the world. For a normal person, that’s got to be disorienting. Though when your best friend ends up being one of those people, that must be pretty cool.

The rest of the cast is does a fine job, and Simu Liu, the titular Shang-Chi, brings a humble, easy-going style to the hero’s sudden rise in importance. He’s a great addition to the MCU.

I’d give the movie a B, but if you’re into martial arts movies, or looking to give the film credit for its excellent work with cultural representation, you’re likely to grade it higher.

I was so moved by seeing the film that I wrote a little poem about it. It’s my love letter to popular culture, the Hero’s Journey, and ninjas.

I’m proud to say it appeared this week at The Daily Drunk.

“After Watching Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings” is available by clicking here.

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