Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadpool movie review.

Valentine's Day has come and gone, and loving couples around the world celebrated in the usual ways: Gifts, parties, and romantic dinners... or maybe their tastes were more specific, geared towards the violent and the vulgar. In which case, Deadpool ticked those boxes off one by one.

A fan favorite in Marvel's legendary roster, the crude and meta-satirical "merc with a mouth" had previously appeared in the now non-canon X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Ryan Reynolds, and bearing little resemblance to the character comic book fans had fallen in love with, what with his mouth being sewed shut and being equipped with Adamantium blade arms.

For years, fans had waited anxiously for the character to receive his own film, with star and producer Ryan Reynolds fighting hard to get one off the ground. Flashforward to February 2016, and fans get the movie they always wanted: A hard R, rapid fire laugh-a-minute and brutally violent thrill ride that, despite its issues, gives its lead the movie he deserves.

Said issues don't otherwise ruin the movie, but prevent me from outright loving it. Oddly enough, most of the least interesting elements of the film revolve around the origin portions of the movie. After a hysterically funny mock opening title sequence, and a genuinely spectacular highway brawl, the movie makes extensive use of flashback framing devices in order to shed light on how Wade got to where he is now. In fact, the main reason said opening sequence even exists is to give Deadpool something to do before the second half, as had it not been included, he wouldn't even show up in full costume until perhaps fifty minutes in.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, as films like the Sam Raimi Spider-Man film took similar length before showing the title character in his full glory, but this was back when superhero movies were still in their youth, so the ubiquity was easily forgivable. Now, origin stories do tend to follow a formula, and tend to fall on safe territory. Not to say Deadpool needed to eliminate its origin story, but for a film that's all about deconstructing and mocking its subgenre cliches to pieces, you end up wishing that the film had just continued on from where it opened, and relied on the flashbacks only sparingly to keep the momentum up, especially since these segments don't seem to bring anything new to the table. One can't help but feel that the film sometimes falls into those same exact pitfalls that it's ripping apart, right down to its one note and personality-free villains who are evil because... they just are. Despite the fact that this is perhaps part of the joke, there's only so far a film's sarcasm can go in masking it's faults, and tackles less successfully the same kind of ground already covered by Matthew Vaughn films such as Kingsman.

That said, while it is a non-negligible issue, that ultimately took a back seat to just what a fun movie Deadpool is. The movie delivers on exactly what it promises: It's wildly entertaining and unapologetically profane sense of humor. Deadpool keeps true to the larger than life crudeness and fourth wall shattering spirit of its source material, much of which is owed to Ryan Reynolds' performance. He MAKES this movie! At long last, Reynolds has finally found a natural fit for his charismatic and fast talking snippiness, and shows obvious infectious enthusiasm for it, mocking his own prior filmography, and translates much of the comedy through effortless body language, even managing to make his mask show a surprising range of expressiveness. It certainly helps that he has a lot of great talent on board to match him. Despite the origin segments being a bit weak, the love story between him and Baccarin is terrific stuff, as the two show remarkable chemistry with each other, and complement each others' comedy very well. It also makes great use of TJ Miller, as well as appearances by characters from the X-Men series to provide some hilarious tie-ins and in-jokes towards Fox's long-running franchise.

And when I say the film is hilarious, I mean it. I struggle to think of any genuinely bad jokes in this movie, as a majority of the time, when the film made me laugh, it made me laugh hard. The comedy unashamedly heeds to an anything goes style of humor, oftentimes so fast and furious you can actually miss smaller gags, and even carry some surprising Monty Python-esque absurdity to them. Even the action sequences feature some riotous gags, but are also genuinely virtuoso in their stylization and staging. The sequences are just as unapologetically absurd when it comes to their bloody and gory violence as it does for the jokes, using seamless and often hypnotic editing tricks. It almost feels straight out of a Mortal Kombat game at times, with Mad Max: Fury Road's Tom Holkenberg scoring the film with heavy synthetics that sound right out of those games' library of tunes.

I hesitate to call this a great film, but much like it's title character, it's flawed, offensive, bloody, depraved, and slick in all of the right ways. I'd have liked to see the film go all the way with its satire, and not fall into its old tropes as often as it did, but when it's centered around a film this entertaining and this hilarious, such a thing can be easy to forgive. It certainly lays down the ground work for even funnier things to come in sequels that this is setting up, and it makes me happy to see Fox treating the character with the respect he deserves.

It's almost enough to make you forget that Fant4stic existed...

***1/2 / *****

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