Thursday, February 18, 2016

Deadpool (2016)

Director: Tim Miller
Notable Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Stephan Kapicic, Leslie Uggams

The superhero movie craze only seems to be getting crazier as time goes on instead of collapsing under the saturated market it has created. And while Marvel still pumps out blockbusters like it was gumballs out of a gumball machine for children, there was always a portion of genre that was left out – the non-family friendly superheroes, aka the rated R kind. It’s not like R-rated superhero films haven’t existed previously or have all been duds, but Deadpool, the focus of this review, just made a lot of money its opening weekend and it has people perplexed and excited. While the vulgarity of the film and thus its R-rating plays into its modern appeal, it’s hardly the only reason that this film has done so well. Deadpool is funny, fast-paced, and must smarter than the relentless Deadpool memes that flooded the internet as the popularity of the character increased over the last few years. Most importantly in a time when superhero movies saturate the market, Deadpool feels refreshing.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) has finally found a purpose to his life outside of working as a mercenary with a sharp mouth. He’s found Vanessa (Baccarin) and his life is on the right path. When he finds out he has cancer though, he takes drastic measures to cure himself and volunteers for a ‘workshop’ that cures him by bringing his mutant genes to life, but leaves him scarred physically…which leads the newly minted Deadpool down a path of revenge.

The merc with a mouth...and a heart.
After the Deadpool debacle of X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in 2009 (which is mentioned in this film), I had high hopes that this film would properly use the elements of the character in much more effective ways…and it does. Fans of the comic will be glad to know that this film is ripe with Deadpool style. At times, the film lingers on going too far with some of the jokes and running them into the ground, but director Tim Miller and his team play it smart and keep the humor diverse and the pacing so fast that the audience has little time to dwell on the jokes that miss as the next one comes blazing in. In this sense, Ryan Reynolds is (once again) perfect in the role with his quick sarcastic humor and he portrays the character with a sense of energy that really does carry the film with his endless banter with other characters, the audience, and himself.

Deadpool is also effectively built to run with its “meme” powered jokes and high energy pacing. While the flashback structure of the film seems to try much too hard to keep the film from feeling too much like an origin flick, it works in the end to really keep things moving since the film has only two big action set pieces. Tim Miller keeps the balance of comedy, action, and drama in a damn near perfect balance (and as an action fan, I was stoked to see how well he frames the action and edits it so that it doesn’t quite have the terrible shaky cam disease) and it allows the film to move in the ways it needs to – which is refreshing in an age where all of the superhero movies tend to be a little too long for their own good.

While most of the film is a surprising success, Deadpool isn’t perfect and it’s fast pacing and Deadpool focused origin story tends to leave a lot of the secondary characters high and dry. The brief appearances work for some of them (Deadpool’s bartender friend and cab driver make for gloriously hilarious moments), but it makes the audience crave more from the rest. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are awesome on screen when they show up, but they (especially the latter) feel a bit underused as they show up for plot progressions in the third act and for jokes previous to that. The worst, however, is that the villains remain faceless entities instead of truly effective villains. Both Ed Skrein and Gina Carano are a bit wasted here in the film as they merely represent antagonists to Deadpool’s agenda instead of actually living, breathing characters. There are some solid ideas in there (Skrein’s Ajax aka Francis feels nothing as compared to Deadpool’s very emotional style), but it’s hardly used in the ways needed to further the character beyond basic plot progression and it’s perhaps the biggest problem in Deadpool.

Lights, camera, ACTION.
Overall though, Deadpool is refreshingly effective in its use of the character, riding the style and high energy of the film into being a surprising success. The vulgarity of the film (which, to be honest didn’t seem all that vulgar as most comedies use that kind of language now and the violence is shooting par when compared to some of the independent horror and action that’s covered on this site) adds to the fun of Deadpool being the anti-superhero superhero that it was marketed as. It’s a funny movie that really just runs with its ideas and fans are going to love it. In the end, that’s what counts.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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