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Review - Deadpool

By midlandsmovies, Feb 26 2016 02:22PM

Deadpool (2016) Dir. Tim Miller

A long-gestating pet project of Ryan Reynolds, Marvel’s ‘Merc with a Mouth’ finally gets a big screen release all on his own after the strange and awful “gene-pool” version seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine a few years back. That film along with many others from the comic book world (including a dig at Reynolds’ own DC appearance in the shitty Green Lantern) are ripe for lampooning and the accurate translation from page to screen has kept Deadpool’s 4th wall-breaking and pop culture referencing apparently intact.

I say apparently as I have not read the comics it’s based on and I’m a big believer for those two hours of a film, although context outside can be helpful, the audience should be able to judge a movie on its own merits.

With that said, the narrative is basic but efficient as this new origin story shows ex-mercenary Wade Wilson falling for Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) but soon discovering inoperable cancer will cut their relationship short. Searching for a cure he is approached by a shifty organisation (vague even by comic book standards as they are never explained who) that promise Wade that they can not only cure him, but improve him as well.

As Wade discovers he has super-healing powers, he subsequently goes on the run from his captors who admit the real reason behind this experiment is to create slaves (eh?). He then attempts to hunt down the main villain Ajax/Francis (British actor Ed Skrein) and force him to cure the disfiguring side-effects Wade has suffered. As Ajax captures Wade’s love we are already into the last act as the hero (along with X-Men Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead) attempts to save Vanessa and enact his revenge.

Simple but uncomplicated, this is embellished with a linear narrative which moves us back and forth along the various straightforward timelines. It even brings attention to 4th wall breaking ‘within’ a 4th wall break (“16 walls!”) which was more involving than a traditional action arc. Also positive is the fact you can certainly tell it’s a much-loved pet project. Few attempts have been made to shave off rough edges or “tame” down adult themes and language for a younger audience. Reynolds is also a likeable everyman and the laughs begin from the credits (starring “British Bad Guy” and produced by “Asshats”) and with so many coming thick and fast, the joke rate is high. The actors play to type but do well with a decent script and despite its basic concept, it throws much at the screen – flashbacks, cameos, nods to the X-Men franchise and more – which doesn’t allow the audience to get complacent. It also goes far with its ‘R-rating’, showing Wade getting “pegged” by his girlfriend (look it up but not at work) and a delicious serving of blood and gore you wouldn’t see anywhere near an MCU release.

But I did get the impression that the endless pop culture references spewing from Wade’s mouth were hiding some inadequacies. These quickly became a chore in the dialogue, which at times was nothing but references. When they were restrained however, it did make them all the funnier when they were delivered. But sadly this didn’t last long – the middle sequence of Wade’s “treatment” was the most sincere – and soon the references to Twitter, Facebook and all things comic-related started to wear thin. And fast. Three-quarters in I was soon guessing punch-lines which in a comedy-centred film was a huge flaw. These references date so quickly too which made it feel like it had an immature and cynical look-at-me-now tone that felt more anachronistic than that Iron Man line “I don’t want to see this on your MySpace page”.

It was so pleased with itself and these were clearly the movie’s go-to ‘safe zone’. I started to balk at its smug nods to the ‘topical’ which rather than letting up, became more prevalent and less funny. Its self-congratulatory tone attempted to hide the fact that it was simply becoming what it had spent the entire movie poking fun at. Recently, a video showed how The Big Bang Theory was merely a series of references and not jokes. Well, your honour, I give you Exhibit B for the prosecution.

I can hear the fans say, “But it’s like that in the comics!” Well, for me there should be no need to fill in any blanks, back-story or character motivations by having to read a lot of extra material that fill in holes or deficiencies in a script or story. Being 'just like the comics' is not a good enough reason to defend the flaws of a movie. Or conversely, for even singing its praises.

In summary, there are so many things to like in Deadpool that any failings are glossed over by the theatrics on show. And for me that was weirdly the flaw. It’s not exactly ground-breaking (Marvel’s Blade was there before with a violent sword-wielding anti-hero – also another film it references) and the puffed up sense of smug satisfaction grated on me like a sandpaper dildo (natch). A riotous 2 hours won’t be wasted for action and comic book movie fans but for all the edge and boundary-pushing it claims to have, I felt the film was far more proud of itself than it had any entitlement to being.

7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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