Friday, February 12, 2016

A Reel Review: DEADPOOL

DEADPOOL, the latest superhero entry from Fox Studios, is a film which tries to strike many balances. First off, it is true to its comic origins; the main character is seemingly aware that he is in a comic-book movie, just as his counterpart always knew that he was in a collection of colored pages. That automatically makes the film a spoof, yet it is a spoof which still has to operate as a superhero film. Second, DEADPOOL is front-loaded with dick and ass jokes that a 14-year old teen would love, but also packed with enough bloodshed, tits, and F-bombs to more-than earn its R-rating and keep those 14-year olds out of the theatre. It’s a juvenile movie for adults, for sure. First-time director Tim Miller and star/producer Ryan Reynolds are swinging for the fences here, and the hits keep on coming…

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a mercenary for-hire who falls in love with Copycat (Morena Baccarin). When Wade is diagnosed with a terminal disease, he undertakes a risky procedure led by Ajax (Ed Skrein), which leaves him disfigured but with super-human strength and healing powers. Wilson becomes Deadpool, and heads out on a revenge tale…

Superhero films tend to stray from their source material, mostly in an effort to avoid any goofy stuff that wouldn’t work on film and to appeal to non-comic readers. DEADPOOL is a film which doesn’t give a shit about any of that (the film will tell us just that), and fully embrace the wackiness and crudeness of the character. Crude jokes are often made about sex, self-pleasure, and genitalia…all while heads are being blown off, arms chopped off, and bodies are blown to bits while surrounded by blood, gore, and naked women. It’s a lot of heavy dressing in what is really the standard hero-tale of discovery, rise, fall, and rise again, but it’s dressing that does give it a fresh feel…and it does feel very good.

DEADPOOL walks a very fine line between a straight-up superhero film and a parody. While the film does take care of its own business as the former, as the latter Deadpool talks directly to the audience often, openly makes fun of other super-flicks, and draws attention to the fact that the character is existing in a movie. It’s an odd mix and a little jarring. For example, DEADPOOL takes place in the already well-established X-MEN universe, and yet X-MEN star Hugh Jackman is made fun of…along with the popular character that he plays. It’s odd and quirky, but the overall message seems to be that none of what’s happening is meant to be taken seriously…and that is the true breath of fresh air that DEADPOOL brings to the genre. DEADPOOL is also told in a non-linear fashion; nearly starting at the climax, flashing back to the origin, and working its way back up while flashing ahead again. It’s well done, and is never confusing. The action scenes are fun and well staged, although first-time director Tim Miller gets a lot of help from his visual effects team.

Ryan Reynolds is a blast here, and seems born to play part. Aside from pulling off the wise-cracking stuff easily, he really gets to show his chops when Deadpool is going through the torturous procedures. Morena Baccarin gets to show quite a lot (literally), but Ed Skrein as the Big Bad is very one-note and has zero depth. Gina Carano appears as the Big Bad’s sidekick and gets to strut her action skills, and an extended cameo by some new X-MEN is a welcome addition.

Despite wanting so hard to break away from the mold of superhero movies, DEADPOOL can’t fully get away from what it truly is, and finishes the film with a big action set-piece with a zillion CGI effects-shots. The finale isn’t as thrilling as it thinks it is, but since the laughs and wise-cracks are still relentlessly coming, it’s barely noticeable. The crudeness and toilet-humor isn’t for everyone, and may be a dealbreaker for some, but overall DEADPOOL is too much to fun to dismiss.



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