Tuesday, February 16, 2016


So the film adaptation of Deadpool was released this past weekend to take advantage of those lucrative Valentine’s Day dollars and made an absolute killing at the box office. It made so much cash that the viability of this property as a franchise is secured for many sequels to come. But was the film really all that good? I mean, this is an R-rated comic book film that focuses on a crude, loudmouthed and brutally violent character that would most likely cut off your head and ejaculate into your neck stump. How did it make all that money without the PG-13 teenybopper bucks? 

Because it’s fucking awesome. That’s how. 
Mercenary for hire Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has found the woman of his dreams (Morena Baccarin) as he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Promised a cure that will also give him superpowers by the mysterious Ajax (Ed Skrein), he is deceived and embarks on a violent quest for revenge.

So if you are not fully aware, the Deadpool character is an absolute loon. He’s certifiably crazy. He constantly talks shit, breaks the fourth wall and will kill someone in a heartbeat. Unpredictable. And my greatest fear was that this character would become so gratingly annoying that I wouldn’t want to see it through to the end. I was wrong to assume that. This is one of the most impressively made, well written and genuinely funny films I’ve seen in a while. And being that I’m no fan of Ryan Reynolds, who I usually DO find annoying, that’s really saying something.
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) really seem to understand this character and how to translate him to screen without compromising what makes him so appealing to comic book fans around the world. They also wrote one of the most accurate adaptations of a comic book series. The jokes are funny and not forced even though some of them do miss the mark, the characters are fleshed out well enough that you actually give a crap if they live or die, the villains are diabolical to a point that you want to see the hero open a can of whoop ass upon them (but their motivations are kind of lame and underwhelming) and the way in which they weave the tale is fun and keeps the story moving at a fast clip regardless of the fact that there really isn’t all that much going on in the action department. And the way the script pokes fun at Reynolds' past brushes with superherodom... priceless.

The aspect of the screenplay that works the best – the love story. Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re saying. “But this is a comic book movie, Chris!” Yes it is, but the reason Wade gets into the pickle he does is because of his love for Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa. We see them fall in love under odd circumstances and get a real feeling that they do love each other. It helps that Reynolds and Baccarin have amazing chemistry so I honestly felt that they did feel all these emotions. Hokey, but true. If this aspect of the film never worked I doubt anything in the movie would have. It gives weight to Wade’s decisions and the payoff of their relationship is amazing in the end.
This is director Tim Miller’s first feature film gig after working in visual FX for a number of years and I have to admit that this is one supremely impressive debut. He certainly has a handle on the comic book visuals (love that slo-mo bullet time shot during the opening credits), knows how to get his well-cast actors to perform admirably and managed to stretch his meager budget to the max (this flick looks like it cost well past the $58m he was given). I hope he sticks around for the inevitable sequels because he brings a fun energy that seemed to rub off on everyone in the cast as they all look like they’re having the time of their lives. The rad non-linear way the story is told is a revelation for this type of film and I have a sneaking suspicion that comic book films will begin to emulate this technique in the years to come.

Ryan Reynolds, who played this character before in the back alley abortion known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, gets a second chance to play Deadpool (the right way this time) and takes full advantage of it. He’s great in the dramatic scenes, hysterically funny (95% of the time) and pulls off his action scenes with aplomb. He was born to play this part and I’m glad that casting agents felt the same way. Morena Baccarin (Serenity) is sexy as always and shows off her silly side more than once as well as some serious acting chops when the need arises. TJ Miller (Cloverfield, Transformers: Age of Extinction) is dryly funny as usual and is a great addition to the cast. I absolutely HEART Stefan Kapicic as Colossus. He’s the perfect straight man. Brianna Hildebrand is also perfectly cast as Negasonic Teenage Warhead (a very minor character who is usually the first one to be taken out during battles in the “X-Men” comics). Her nihilistic attitude to everything is refreshing where most of the actors seem to be turned up to 11. Ed Skrein (The Transporter: Refueled) is a good villain regardless of the fact that Ajax is a little underwritten. But I really, really do not like Gina Carano (Haywire, Fast & Furious 6). I thought she’d have gotten her shit together by now and taken a few acting classes. She’d be perfect as a full on superhero (I suspect we’ll see Ronda Rousey as a major superheroine sooner than her), but she is a fucking horrendous actress. She’s a like a female Howie Long in that her facial expressions never seem to change regardless of what’s going on around her. It’s sad because she has the presence, she just needs the enthusiasm. I have to say that I also immensely enjoyed Leslie Uggams (Nurse Jackie) as Blind Al. She had a great love/hate thing going on with Deadpool that was supremely fun to see in action.
I will say that not everything is awesome. No movie is perfect regardless of how entertaining it may be. The CGI used for Colossus was cartoony and looked like something you’d have seen in a movie circa 1999. I mentioned before that not all the jokes were great and I felt that the constant showing off of Ryan Reynolds face, even when scarred up, was a little overused. If I remember correctly Deadpool rarely ever showed off his ugly mug to anyone in the comics. So this situation must’ve been akin to the Sylvester Stallone debacle in Judge Dredd where the producers felt that if they were paying this megastar $20m they had better show off his face as much as possible. It’s not that big of a deal, but felt it warranted a mention. I also felt that some of the action was a little underwhelming. When you think about it the reason the non-linear storytelling was utilized was so that the movie wouldn’t be completely backloaded with action. All the fights and shootouts happen at the end of the story, so by mixing things up we get to see some of it at the beginning and dispersed throughout the movie. Without this technique this could have been one very tedious movie. Editing win! But what we get to see is cool but also kind of cliché comic book stuff. We see people flipping around and slashing at people all the time. Hopefully in the sequel we’ll see more creativity due to the new characters that will be introduced. For example, Negasonic Teenage Warhead had the best moments because she used her powers not to directly hit people, but launch bulky items around and fling Deadpool through the air. That was rad.

Just know that Deadpool is awesome and is a great example of how to make an adult comic book movie right. I suspect we’ll be seeing a resurgence of violent, edgy and vulgar comic book characters on film soon. Not too different from when Wedding Crashers and The 40 Year-Old Virgin made R-rated comedies a profitable business again. A Blade reboot? A new Punisher film? Who knows. I just know that I absolutely loved (nearly) every second of Deadpool. I’m sure you will too. 

4.5 out of 5