What I'm Watching: Deadpool
It has been *forever* since I've done a comicbook movie review, and that's largely because some of the recent ones got pretty controversial, and I didn't have a lot to say, so I bowed out. (For the record, Ant-Man may be one of my top Marvel movies, and I loved Age of Ultron, but it had flaws.)
But Deadpool...Deadpool is an interesting beast. This is an R-rated comic movie, from a major studio, and a majorish property. Marvel, FOX, Disney, etc, always like to try and get their movies into the PG-13 category, to maximize the viewers, and get money back on their investment. It's more of a sure thing. And I understand that stance, but I've always felt there are a few characters who deserve the chance at that R rating, profits be damned. This, by the way, is why I am not an executive. Ghost Rider comes immediately to mind as another example. Nudging them down away from R seems to give the creators license to make things more camp and silly, to bring in the family and kids. The second GR movie fared better, but still had it's issues (I'll defend it against other movies, though).
But now here's Deadpool. He is arguably one of Marvel's most popular characters, and somehow he's been allowed to be R-Rated. And I really hope this movie does well, because I would love to see that door opened up for other properties, as appropriate.
Deadpool is the story of a mercenary who one day finds out he has cancer, and volunteers for some experimental procedures to try and save his life. They succeed, and activate a healing factor within him which heals the cancer and makes him damned near unkillable, but also ravages his body. So he's healed, has super powers, but his face looks like it's been run through a meat grinder. The movie offers up more...colourful ways of describing it, but you get the idea. It also warps his already warped mind, and when he's left for dead by the group that was essentially torturing him, Wade goes on a revenge spree to find the guy responsible, and to restore his movie star good looks.
Along the way, Deadpool earns that R. There is language, violence, gore, language, and almost everything you can think of to get that R. And it all flows very naturally and feels very real. Wade is one of the few characters that can get away with talking the way he does, as is contrasted by having the X-Man Colossus, the consummate nice guy, paired up against him. He's not in a lot of the movie, but the two work well as a foil for each other, and Piotr works great to show just how different Wade is from the more 'sanitized' Marvel movies.
This flick has everything. It's a comic book movie at its core, no doubt about it. Unbelievable science and action, comicbooky sequences, super powers, and it's a horror story. But it's also a love story. That seemed like a joke from the marketing, since the movie was coming out on Valentines weekend, but it really is true. It's a love story between a horribly disfigured mutant and a hooker, but nonetheless...
Ryan Reynolds kills it...when he's not killing people. He is hilarious. His delivery is perfect on every line, and the timing is spot on. He truly embodies Wade Wilson, and let me be clear; this is Wade in every sense of the word. If you're familiar with the comics, you'll get exactly the Wade you know, and more. And yes, he even breaks the fourth wall, directly talking to the audience, outright acknowledging that he knows he's in a movie, and even commenting on the parent movies' changing cast members for characters.
Since Deadpool comes from comics, he's hardly ever been what you would call R-rated, (Aside from a few moments here and there in the run) but even with the heightened language and gore, this is still Wade. This may well be the single most faithful comic adaptation in looks, style, and character, since Spawn.
...What? That movie was bad in so many ways, but Spawn was spot on, and I will stand by that opinion to my grave.
Which isn't to say they didn't make changes. They made Wade a mutant for one, and several characters have different positions in the movie and connections to Wade, but in the larger scheme of things, they are all fairly minor changes, and make sense for the story they wanted to tell.
I also cannot tell you exactly how pleased at Deadpool keeping the mask on. It's a thing now that comic movies, where masks are a convention we just have to live with, so often get torn, tossed, removed, and ANYthing done to them so we can see the actor beneath. I get the audience wanting to see the actors, I get the actors and studio feeling they NEED to get the face they believe people are paying money to come see being on screen as much as possible, but it frustrates me at just how meaningless the concept of a mask and secret identity has become in modern superhero movies. *sideeyes Spider-Man* Wade keeps his mask on as much as possible, and when he takes it off, every moment feels very organic to the plot, and never feels forced just to see Reynolds' face. So much respect for Ryan going this route and not letting ego get in the way.
This movie is wall to wall laughter, even when they're talking about heartbreak and cancer, and death, somehow this movie is never far from making you fall out of your chair. I have not laughed so much at a movie in I don't know how long. From the opening credits to the final scene, it's hilarious.
The humour is NOT for everyone, and with its rating, you can probably make a guess at what sort of gags and lines they'll have peppered through. If that's your thing, you're good to go. It never reaches say the more raunchy disgusting stuff of say, an American Pie, but it's still pretty dirty.
My biggest problem with the movie almost all centers on a single character; Colossus. SOMEthing about him didn't click for me, and I'm pretty sure it's the CGI. I never believed his presence, he never looked right, and I wish he had been allowed to power down once or twice. The *performance* given was great. I loved his lines, and as I said he played off Wade brilliantly, but the walking special effect took me out of the movie whenever he was there. Fortunately he's only in a few scenes of the movie, and does get some great action sequences, so I can live with it.
The other thing I wasn't super pleased with, was that once he becomes Deadpool, he's straight up going for revenge, with zero actual mercenarying to speak of. So it's hard to think of him as the Merc With the Mouth, when all that came from his time before the cancer. They give us a taste of those days, but it feels like a tiny missing part of the movie, much like how the first Captain America movie skimmed over his WW2 adventures with the Howling Commandos. But as I often say, wanting more is never a bad thing.
It's another origin story, it's not got a lot of surprises in the plot, but the jokes, the performances, and some of the storytelling gimmicks make this movie stand out. It is absolutely worth seeing to see Ryan Reynolds redeem himself for Green Lantern, and for the humour of the movie alone. It may not be the most daring plot, but it was bloody good fun, and just pure enjoyment.