Marvel back on track, social questions drive Worth and Something for the adventurous

Strong casting, energy saves
Shang -Chi
Having stumbled out of the gate with a lackluster, unnecessary movie (Black Widow), Marvel Films rights the ship of their fourth phase with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The origin of the titular martial arts master follows the expected beats of the standard origin story, but a sense of self-referential humor and a likable cast make it not only a passable entry in the superhero canon but an enjoyable one as well.

Simu Liu takes on the title role, a young man who's completely unaware of his family's legacy. His father, Xu (Tony Leung), has lived for thousands of years thanks to 10 mystical rings of iron which give him eternal life as well as incredible destructive power. He expects his son to take his mantle after he resurrects his wife, an act that will release malevolent supernatural forces. The film moves at a breezy pace and has a light-hearted tone, thanks to Liu's self-effacing performance and solid support from Akwafina as his best gal pal. Yes, it's predictable, but its sense of joy and energy get the Marvel Films juggernaut back on track. In theaters.

Intriguing social questions drive Worth
How much is a human life worth? One million dollars? Ten million dollars? More? This is the question at the core of Sara Colangelo's Worth, an intriguing true-life story that centers on Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who specializes in cases where assessing compensation for the deceased is concerned. The film deals with his most high-profile case, dispensing funds to victims of the 9/11 attacks, a task he took on pro bono, thinking he could provide comfort and aid through his efforts. He couldn't have been more mistaken, as his clinical approach to helping the families in question was seen as calculating and cold.

As Feinberg, Michael Keaton, despite a distracting accent, does a fine job showing how this by-the-book lawyer changes into a litigator with a heart, while Stanley Tucci provides great support as a widower who calls him out for only looking at the financial value of a person and not their emotional worth. The film stumbles a bit at the end, offering an abrupt, convenient conclusion, but the philosophical and social questions are intriguing enough to keep the viewer engaged throughout. Streaming on Netflix.

Outlandish Something only for the adventurous
Employing a single setting and a small group of actors, Sean King O'Grady's We Need to Do Something evokes Night of the Living Dead throughout, as its own unique end-of-the-world scenario unfolds. What begins as a family – parents Robert and Diane (Pat Healy and Vinessa Shaw), teen daughter Melissa (Sierra McCormick) and young son, Bobby (John Cronin), – riding out a severe thunderstorm in their home's bathroom soon becomes a siege event in which they find themselves facing an apocalyptic event.

How this has all come to be remains a mystery, but through flashbacks we learn that Melissa and her girlfriend Amy (Lisette Alexis) – an amateur witch, mind you - have cast a spell that's gotten a little out of hand. We see none of what ensues outside the confines of the family home, relying on the actors' descriptions of what they see. Vivid performances from each member of the cast help increase the horror throughout until, like them, you're on pins and needles waiting for the next nightmare event to occur. What with the world seemingly getting closer and closer to going over the edge each day, Need manages to effectively exploit the prevalent sense of existential dread. Streaming on Amazon.

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  • Simple weaving

    @ Edwards Place, Springfield Art Association

    Sat., Jan. 29, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.