Friday, February 12, 2016

Deadpool Review

So, full cards on the table time...I've never been a big fan of Deadpool. I don't "hate" the character, but he's always struck me as just another individual in the same vein as Venom or Shadow The Hedgehog, a "too kewl for school bro" character that ends up being more grating than anything else. So while the marketing campaign for Deadpool's first solo movie has been non-stop brilliance, I freely admit to being ambivalent that this character was gonna work in a solo movie.

Surprisingly, it seems like the makers behind Deadpool do seem to share my viewpoint of this anti-hero lacking some depth in his personality, so whaddya know, they've slapped on some surprisingly effective drama for the character to navigate through in addition to the usual fourth wall breaking and dick jokes. In a nutshell, the plotline for this one concerns mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) looking to cure his cancer by undergoing a unique medical treatment that'll cure his disease and give him special abilities to boot. Turns out, the people running the show at this medical facility are far more nefarious than they seem, and look to use Wade's skills as a mercenary for their own desires.

Before you can say "Rob Liefeld loves pouches", Wade has escaped from the clutches of his adversaries, complete with regenerative powers and a horribly burned face. In order to take down the bad guys who did this to him, he dons a red suit and the name Deadpool to take down evildoers and save his fiancee Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) if she comes into harms way. In other words, this is the telling of the origins of Deadpool, where he got his powers, costume, name, the whole nine yards. The secret weapon of the entire movie, though, comes in how it also shows the origin of how Wade and Vanessa fell in love.

Nary a scene flies by in Deadpool without some snarky witticism being dropped, but screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are smart enough to realize that all of this humor could get tiring if there isn't some drama to ground all of the gags in. Thus, the entire relationship between Wade and Vanessa is played entirely straight faced, with the two legitimately loving each other and providing many of the films cutest moments in their humorous interactions. In theory, this part of the plot really shouldn't fit into the overall irreverent aesthetic of Deadpool, but, to borrow a turn of phrase from Mr. Wade Wilson himself, the more emotional and action packed sequences fit as snugly together as two connecting jigsaw puzzle pieces.

I do wish the same level of depth that's found in the relationship between Wade Wilson and Vanessa could be found in the films adversaries, Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano). For Ajax, his personality pretty much begins and ends with his real name and a British accent, while Angel Dust only gets a name and an affinity for using matchsticks as toothpicks. They're not bad in an overtly distracting manner, and the actors playing these characters fare well in the fight scenes, but it's a pity there couldn't be more done to flesh out these figures that are so crucial to the overall story.

If any two people walk away from this movie as true blue victors, it's the star of the piece, Ryan Reynolds, and director Tim Miller. Reynolds, coming off numerous box office duds like Green Lantern, R.I.P.D. and Turbo, excels playing such a wise-cracking individual, delivering his manic dialogue with all the energy of caffeine riddled rabbit driving an automobile in a NASCAR race. To boot, he's able to be believable and emotionally engaging in those pivotal romantic scenes between him and Vanessa. Meanwhile, Tim Miller makes his feature film directorial debut here, but you wouldn't know it from the surprising amount of craft on display in his work behind the camera. Action scenes are extremely incisive in terms of design and he's not afraid to bring some actual bright colors (like a yellow X-Men uniform, huzzah huzzah!) into the proceedings.

Also factoring into the motion picture are appearances by the extremely entertaining X-Men duo Colossus (complete with his eight foot stature and thick Russian accent from the comics) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, as well as lots and lots of examples of Deadpool's trademark style of humor. While certain aspects of Deadpool from the comics have been ditched or toned down (chimichangas only get mentioned once while the yellow text boxes are nowhere to be seen), rest assured Deadpool devotees that he still breaks the fourth wall, quips about the "confusing timelines" of the X-Men movies and drops plenty of jokes for people to heartily laugh at. Not all of the jokes landed for me (this film really goes for uncharted comedic territory with gags about Rosie O'Donnell's physical appearance and how Batman & Robin may have been more than friends), but enough of them do work, a few going over like gangbusters in fact, to make Deadpool's more unique sense of humor enjoyable rather than irksome. Deadpool isn't the greatest comic book movie I've ever seen, but it's hard to deny its surprisingly well-crafted anarchic vibe, especially since everyone on-screen, especially Reynolds, seems to be having a ball indulging in all of the mayhem.

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