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Deadpool – film review

March 25, 2016

DEADPOOL

Gleeful profanity rescues a rapidly tiring genre from itself.

Reviewed on Thursday 17th March 2016

deadpool

Directed by Tim Miller. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, based on the Marvel character created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano and Brianna Hildebrand. Running time: 108 mins.

When ex-special forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson is diagnosed with terminal cancer he is persuaded by a clandestine criminal organization to undergo a horrendous treatment which kills his cancer but also leaves him terribly disfigured and virtually indestructable. Separated from his one true love, Wade reinvents himself as a masked vigilante and sets out to destroy those responsible for ruining his life.

I’ve always been somewhat nonplussed with the modern Marvel movies, being someone who quickly grew bored with their cookie-cutter sameness. So Deadpool comes as something of a real and pleasant surprise. Unashamedly lewd and profane, Deadpool completely eschews the turgid self-importance of many of Marvel’s previous films in favor of, well, unabashed fun!

Sporting a screenplay from the writing duo behind the hit comedy Zombieland, Deadpool is the long-time-coming feature debut from the helmer of the Oscar-nominated 2003 animated short Rockfish and was something of a passion project for its star Ryan Reynolds. I’ve never really had an opinion on Reynolds one way or the other, but I really enjoyed his comic timing here. Being unfamiliar with the comic book background of this character, the closest thing tonally I can compare the character of Deadpool to is Jim Carrey’s The Mask. Although Deadpool’s dialogue is way more adult; almost entirely consisting of a constant stream of profane remarks and sexually-charged wise-cracks; meant to demoralize and belittle his enemies before taking them down. Incredibly violent with plenty of head and limb-lopping to go around, Deadpool gleefully dispatches his enemies with a witty quip, followed by       a bullet to the head or a slash of the sword – resulting in almost balletic carnage.

From the film’s opening moments (featuring an effect similar to the slo-mo sequence in Dredd) – we know we’re in for a subversive ride which doesn’t take itself too seriously. And Reese and Wernick’s screenplay is perhaps the film’s greatest strength. The story begins mid-stream and back-tracks in a well-constructed non-linear fashion; well-placed flashbacks filling in the backstory. Although, once again, as with many of the films in Marvel’s burgeoning canon, the pacing of Deadpool is overtly front-loaded – almost as if the filmmakers are preoccupied with the fear of losing the viewer’s interest in the first thirty minutes.

Miller’s background in directing animation is clearly evident in his staging of various action sequences; the flow of action being beautifully paced and easy to follow. His choice of camera placement and cutting only when absolutely necessary gives the impression that a great deal of planning was involved and therefore every frame here exudes confidence.

Poking fun at recognizable tropes of the filmed superhero genre (and not just the Marvel filmed universe but the DC universe as well), Deadpool could be best described as consciously ‘meta’ – a buzz word which tends to be overused these days; but which definitely applies to this latest Marvel offering. Other pop culture references also abound; even including a couple of none-too-subtle references to Bronies and Cloppers. And there are several moments where the titular hero breaks the fourth wall (speaking directly to the audience) – which could potentially take us out of the movie – but in actuality draws us closer to what could arguably be a fairly obnoxious and unlikeable character.

While the film’s climactic moments do tend to fall back on that hoary old cliche of hero-battling-villain-while-damsel-in-distress-looks-on (a trope which has been around since the dawn of cinema) – there has been so much goodwill created up to this point that the tiredness of this meme hardly seems to matter in the long run.

My only real gripe with the film is a purely minor and aesthetic one – as the high-contrast, desaturated color (very much the current look of big Hollywood movies these days) is, to be perfectly frank; truly a depressingly ugly and unappealing look and one which will undoubtedly date the film in decades to come. Having said this, however, Deadpool still remains clever, fast and terribly naughty – one for those who’ve grown weary of superhero tropes and perhaps the most fun you’ll have in theaters this year while keeping your pants on. Oops … did I really just say that?

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Megaplex Marion, Adelaide, March 17th 2016.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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8 Comments
  1. Glad you liked this! I’m so bored with the superhero thing so this was a nice change. I feel like it’s one I’d only watch once, though (maybe twice as there are so many jokes that I know I missed some). But I feel that way about a lot of comedy. Once you’ve heard the jokes, you don’t need to again. But I’d most definitely love to see a sequel. 🙂

    • gregory moss permalink

      Yeah, I know what you mean about comedy. Comedies are the ones I tend to re-watch after considerable time has passed. But I’d absolutely be up for a sequel – with the same writers and director involved. Tim Miller has definitely proven himself to be a filmmaker to watch. If you haven’t seen his short film ROCKFISH – it’s well worth checking out. I’m pretty sure it’s on youtube. I’ll see if I can find it and post the link … 🙂

  2. I’ve still got mixed feelings about this film. I enjoyed it but am still a bit uncomfortable about some of its conceits regards sex and violence and of how funny all that is. People seem to enjoy it because its diferent to other superhero movies or think that its adult because its full of violence bad language and dick jokes. It seems vacuous to me, with nothing to really say. Much prefered Watchmen. That film wasnt perfect but it had something to say, confused as that message might have been.

    But yeah, Deadpool, its ok.

    • gregory moss permalink

      Big fan of Watchmen … but then, yes – I’m an unashamed fan of Zack Snyder’s. 🙂

  3. A lot of love went into making Deadpool, and it shows. Best of all, inside all that snarky humour, it’s wholly committed to the characters. Compact, snappy, and a breath of fresh air.

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