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By midlandsmovies, May 28 2018 12:59PM

Deadpool 2 (2018) Dir. David Leitch

After losing the first film’s director (Tim Miller) to the Cameron produced Terminator franchise (good luck with that as lord knows it needs some help), the sequel to 2016’s surprisingly knowingly violent superhero flick was left in the hands of David Leitch. As either director or co-director of both John Wick and Atomic Blonde, Leitch has certainly got the action chops and he brings his kinetic aesthetic to another outing from Ryan Reynold’s ‘merc with a mouth’.

[slight spoiler] In this film, Deadpool blames himself for the death of his partner Vanessa and after a suicide attempt he joins with X-Men’s Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead to help contain a young orphaned mutant Russell/Firefist (Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople). But after a standoff, both Wade and the vengeful youth get taken to a prison where collars are attached to supress their powers.

At the same time, Cable (Josh Brolin) travels through time to prevent disaster (“that’s just lazy writing”) as we discover the Russell of the future uses his powers to kill others – including Cable’s family. After a breakout from prison sees Wade recruit potential new superheroes to his cause – in a sequence that owes more than a nod to 1999’s Mystery Men – he creates a new team called X-Force. This group includes Domino (a fantastic Zazie Beetz whose power is pure ‘luck’) Terry Crews as Bedlam, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Bill Skarsgård as Zeitgeist and Rob Delaney as a regular guy called Peter.

Ryan’s ad-libbed dialogue is still present but my gripe with the first film was that the endless snide comments and pop-culture references made it feel particularly smug. This follow up mostly avoids that with a script focusing more on narrative and the inclusion of extra characters takes some of the attention away from Ryan’s endless quips.

A James Bond-style opening with Celine Dion ballad “Ashes” sets up the film with its brand of irreverent humour and its use of varied and inappropriate musical cues. AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” is pure Iron Man territory but is a stonker of a tune which attempts to pump up the audience for a parachute jump during X-Force’s heist plans.

As well the action and comedy, Josh Brolin brings the same nuances that he brought to his other Marvel villain this summer and I have to admit I was waiting for a Thanos reference throughout and got the requisite nod before the end. Although he’s not given a great deal, Brolin adds more depth than is written and he’s without a doubt infinitely better than the awful unforgettable turn by Ed Skrein from the first.

Brilliant cameos at the X-Mansion and a hilariously excellent meta-nod to the film’s timeline during the end credits – both in this universe and others – are just two of many standout comedy sequences but with the addition of some emotional heft I enjoyed this ride a lot as it zips along at a pace.

For me, the film wasn’t helmed in by the origin story problem and, although not on the same level of quality, it sits alongside Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2 as far better sequels than their origin films. Dark humour, screwball sequences and a great ensemble cast, Deadpool 2 again plays like the naughty child to the MCU’s high-achieving big brother but if you want less schmaltz and more obscenity, this superhero sequel delivers it in huge dirty doses.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 29 2016 02:36PM

Hunt for The Wilderpeople (2016) Dir. Taika Waititi

Let’s cut the chase straight away, Hunt for The Wilderpeople is one of the best, if not THE BEST film of the year. Taika Waititi’s latest film is at turns touching, whimsical, idiosyncratic, heart-warming, and above all else very, very funny.

Julian Dennison puts in a star making turn as Ricky Baker, an overweight, troubled teen who dreams of becoming a gangster rapper. The film begins with him on the way to a new foster family made up of the caring, understanding Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her moody husband Hec played brilliantly by New Zealand’s greatest export Sam Neill.

It doesn’t take long for Bella’s positivity (and hilariously wonky birthday song) to bring Ricky out of his shell and give him a glimmer of a happy ever after. But soon tragedy strikes and Ricky is faced with either returning to child services are making a run for it into the vast New Zealand bush. Having chosen the latter, Hec tries to intervene and thanks to a number of mishaps the rest of the country believe he’s a pervert and the police, child services & various hunters are all searching for the two of them.

As our heroes continue to evade their pursuer’s clutches a bond forms between the two that never once feels forced or schmaltzy in any way. Sure there’s the odd chat about grief or wanting to belong but it’s always quickly followed by great gag.

There’s great support from Rachel House as a child services officer desperate to ‘save’ Ricky who, according to herself is The Terminator to Ricky’s Sarah Connor (“in the first movie too, before she could do chin ups!”) and Flight of the Concords’ Rhys Darby who cameos as Psycho Sam, a camouflaged loner who owns a Toyota 4x4 called Crumpy.

However they all fall under the shadow of a never better Neill who manages to make Hec likeable despite him being such a curmudgeon, even right up to the end. Dennison too is excellent, his facial expressions and dead-pan delivery elevates a lot of the material to unexpected heights. Hearing him perform Ricky’s haikus (“Kingi you wanker/You arsehole, I hate you heaps/Please die soon, in pain”) are worth the price of a ticket alone.

The real star however is Wiatiti. The story could’ve been very mawkish in the wrong hands but he deftly avoids such pitfalls by injecting clichéd scenes with unique twists and some inventive visual flourishes. He even shows the action chops he’ll bring to Thor: Ragnarok next year with an extended chase scene towards the end.

As stated at the start of this review, this is one of the best, and most original films of the year. Go check it out immediately.


Jake Stevenson

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