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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, 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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