Well, this certainly isn't the first R-rated Marvel feature (as some have claimed), but we haven't had one since PUNISHER: WAR ZONE and this one did "slightly" better at the box office. You might remember that P:WZ was released under the sub-label "Marvel Knights," which was intended to handle the stronger stuff at the time, but that label appears to have been dropped: DEADPOOL gets the full benefit of the banner
I doubt that there's much I could tell you about the setup for this one. It's based on one of the most violent and anti-heroic Marvel super-characters, but I've never followed Deadpool in the comics, sorry. Short version just in case: Wade (Ryan Reynolds) is a highly-skilled (but disgraced) Special Forces soldier reduced to the role of intimidator-for-hire and loving nothing more than stirring up trouble just for fun (oh, and all the 80s kitsch he can get his hands on). But just when it looks like he's found true love and commitment in the equally kinky Vanessa (Morena Baccarin of GOTHAM), he's diagnosed with terminal and incurable (?) cancer. One wrong move later, and he's undergoing the torturous process intended not only to cure him but to transform him into a "superhero." Things don't go quite the way he expected, and the deformed (but now apparently immortal) Wade sets off on a vendetta against the man who made him what he now is... Deadpool is going to get the man who doesn't want to be called "Francis" (Ed Skrein, our newest Transporter). Meanwhile, the X-Men (represented in this film exclusively by a CGI Colossus and Brianna Hildebrand as the sullen "Negasonic Teenage Warhead") are trying to recruit Deadpool to the side of the angels.
The folks at Marvel were smart enough to realize that a watered-down (read: PG-13) vision of Deadpool would be soundly rejected by fans and took a chance by pushing things as far as they could go in the other direction. DEADPOOL doesn't merely set a Marvel record for graphic violence, profanity, sex and dirty jokes; it aims to skewer every pre-conceived notion of a "Marvel Universe" film even as the studio has its eye on such likely upcoming blockbusters as X-MEN: APOCALYPSE and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. This approach may not work with everybody (I'm currently enjoying Mick LaSalle's appalled reaction and his fear for the future of cinema)--but whether or not the world needs DEADPOOL, I can certainly affirm that DEADPOOL was exactly what I needed right about now. Perhaps I expected too much from AGE OF ULTRON, but we've had such a run of superhero movies lately that it's been quite a while since I could think of one as an "event," and I really needed one to shake up the formula, even if only temporarily.
Now, graphic gore and "attitude" will only get you so far, especially in an obligatory origin movie; but the notion that Deadpool knows he's in a movie and can break walls whenever he feels like it is amusing enough--it's not an original concept, but neither is the story at hand, and as much as Deadpool knocks formula in which he's trapped, the movie still helps him out by successfully revamping such take-for-granted standbys as the opening title sequence, the Stan Lee cameo and, of course, the (brilliant) credit cookies. But of course it's really down to Reynolds himself to make or break the film, and here's where things get a bit ironic for yours truly.
One of my least favorite Marvel-derived films EVER was BLADE: TRINITY. After two highly enjoyable outings, we got this absolute mess which tried to stake a younger audience by giving Wesley Snipes a bunch of younger sidekicks. And the most excruciating of the bunch was Ryan Reynolds, who had a different "smartass" comeback for every threat or torture the villains inflicted on him. Apparently, that was supposed to make me root for him, but there was just so MUCH of this that I was praying for somebody, anybody, to shut his fat gob up for good. Dream on... they even let Reynolds destroy Triple H (who didn't even get to fight Blade). Well, now Reynolds is smart-assing his way through his own anti-hero vehicle, and I'm enjoying it throughout because the tone of the film is far more appropriate and Reynolds has gotten so much better at it. But how interesting is it that one of the numerous pot-shots he takes at his fellow characters is directed at... BLADE II? I guess not even Reynolds wants to admit that TRINITY happened!
The rest of the cast is equally suited... Skrein fills the undemanding shoes of the imposingly smug villain, Baccarin has fine chemistry with Reynolds, and the second-tier X-presence contributes some of the best lines and moments (especially the properly-mannered Colossus as voiced by Stefan Kapicic. But to continue is to spoil. You want CAPTAIN AMERICA? Stay away. Want the antidote to FANTASTIC 4? Proceed.
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