It’s certainly no Ran. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may look to boast effective, huge spectacles, some of the magic is taken out of the stature. It is not there. While the iconography is, the heart is not. But that is what audiences should expect of Marvel. It brags about its special effects and its action scenes yet is just another Marvel feature that allows the secret society trope to reign supreme. Are there not enough of those already? Evidently not. For such a vast and expansive universe on offer, it is disappointing to see how most of it hits the same riffs and notes as all the others.
It is not often we receive an adaptation worthy of our time. We have not received one for the King of the Jungle in close to ninety years. Kong: Skull Island, initially impressed me. Popcorn entertainment applied thickly and with real grace to the big screen. How fast our memories fade. But what was it about this piece from Jordan Vogt-Roberts that I had initially liked? Simply put, the Vietnam historian within me was compelled by the setting and build-up, and I was spurred on by a love for the strong actors found in this ensemble. It is not often you get to see John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson together, and I was not going to let a pesky Monsterverse shtick stand in my way of seeing strong supporting performances.
With a cast derived entirely of actors and artists who should have hit it bigger than they had at this point, Free Fire beckons the alluring charms of the ensemble action to the front and centre. Director Ben Wheatley has often crafted stories to the left of the norm, and his unique experience and desire to create is holding him back. Thus, the issue with Free Fire is not what it wishes to do, but what it tries to say, if anything. Starkly different to his previous, heavily classism-based High Rise, his adaptation of J. G. Ballard is worlds away from the rock-heavy action mystery.
Director Noah Baumbach has been riding rather a niche high these past few years. His latest endeavour with the Netflix original Marriage Story soared through audiences and critics with unanimous approval. Baumbach is no stranger to high approval ratings for his slice of life pieces of film, and try as I might to break free from middle class suburban America, I find myself stuck there once more with Greenberg.