Adam’s Half: Ryan Reynolds, I no longer want to punch you in the face, you sexy beast.
Ahem. Geekdom has now entered an era where studios have mostly figured out that there’s fundamentals to comic book characters that need to be directly copied to the screen in order to make the movie work. A wholesale copy of a comic work can be disastrous (Watchmen), but so can wholesale deviance (Catwoman). FOX learned this the hard way in 2008 when Wolverine Origins first gave us Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, but in a manner that had only the barest resemblance to the comics.
Welcome to 2016’s Deadpool, the mulligan to overcome all mulligans which fully apologizes for the previous film (and even throws a nod to Reynolds’ other derided film, Green Lantern). A very newbie-friendly film, Deadpool gives us a very accessible origin story that brings us into both the character’s insanity and his tragedy, his violence and his absurdity. It’s the kind of movie that plays off the best of the oversaturated superhero tropes and gives them the middle finger, both literally and figuratively on two occasions.
The extended action opening, which finds Deadpool on the hunt for supervillain Francis “Ajax” Freeman (Ed Skrein), is interspersed with his tragic origin–a little jarringly at first, but we quickly get used to it. Wade Wilson is a disgraced special ops soldier who spends his days as a mercenary for hire. His life is relatively directionless until he meets the love of his life, stripper Vanessa Carlisle (Morena Baccarin). Reynolds and Baccarin are comedically convincing as having the perfect whirlwind romance that’s as beautiful as it is tasteless. (This movie isn’t just R-rated for the violence.) But when Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he abandons Vanessa for a radical offer from Ajax’s Weapon X program that won’t just make him healthier, but also a superhero.
Predictably, it’s a trap. Ajax’s program is intended to heal Wade, but it’s activated by severe trauma. Wade is subjected to brutal torture after torture until he uncovers Ajax’s plot: to create not heroes, but controlled mercenaries to be sold to the highest bidder. For uncovering this, Ajax subjects Wade to the most brutal treatment yet, activating his mutant gene in the form of unlimited healing but also changing him from a pretty boy to an ugly-yet-invulnerable mass of scars.
Wade has sworn to return to Vanessa, but he’s become so ugly that he fears she won’t take him back. With nothing but the hope that Ajax can cure him, Wilson adopts the identity of Deadpool and embarks on a quest to become again the man who Vanessa loved. It’s here that the plot was a little lacking: Reynolds and Baccarin demonstrate so much chemistry in the beginning that it seems implausible that Vanessa wouldn’t accept a badly-scarred Wade, much less that he wouldn’t realize this. Wade is ugly–this much is clear–but the superficial concern of losing Vanessa isn’t driven home enough.
What makes up for this, though, is Reynolds’ astonishing personality shift from a snarky but likeable mercenary to the violently quippy Deadpool. Wade’s lost everything but his sense of humor, and that’s been cranked up to 11. His quest to track down Ajax leads to fight scene after fight scene with disturbingly cartoonish levels of violence. It works on the same level of Itchy & Scratchy, in which we know that murder is wrong, but slow murder by zamboni is OK because it’s funny. Reynolds fully embraces the homicidal madness of Deadpool oh so well, while still letting there be a believably broken person underneath.
Yes, this is very much a comic book movie. Not only is Deadpool’s costume and personality spot-on, but his supporting cast is organically added in. Weasel (T.J. Miller) shows up as Wade’s sounding board; Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) gives Wade a place to stay while offering some of the best IKEA-and-cocaine jokes you’ve ever heard. Even some of the X-Men (a whole two of them!) show up, firmly rooting this movie in the mutant-movie universe…although Deadpool makes several jokes about the blatant gratuity of the whole thing. Honestly, the X-Men are one of the weaker links in the film, serving only to foil Deadpool’s revenge plot early in the story and to give him some superpowered assistance at the climax. And Colossus just looked terrible as a full-CGI creation, with ridiculously tiny arms and a Russian accent better suited for a bad Cold War movie.
Colossus aside, this movie comes together marvelously in ways that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe in ways that no superhero film has. Credit even has to be given to the people who selected the soundtrack. Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s become a thing in superhero movies to use classic rock in clever new ways. You wouldn’t expect Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” to work in a fight sequence, but Deadpool somehow manages to do it. Go see this movie. It will be the buzzworthy superhero film for the season.
Rating: 4.75 Yellow Boxes out of 5 (losing 1/4 of a point for the terrible Colossus).
Ashley’s Half: This is the best rendition of Wade Wilson we will ever see on screen. From the wisecracks to the breaking of the fourth wall, the movie had everything except for little yellow bubbles. Which, let’s be honest, would be almost impossible to translate to film. That’s one thing that works best in the comics, and I’m glad they decided not to bother with it. Ryan Reynolds looked like he had a blast with the film and you can see his love and respect for Wade throughout. While Deadpool may be known as a comical character, he has a lot of dark and serious moments as well, and the film was able to bring that to light without losing the humor.
I enjoyed the film. I laughed, I got lost in the action sequences, and Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin adeptly sell the love story. I wouldn’t mind seeing the film again. However, as I walked out afterwards, I felt like something didn’t sit right. So, in an attempt to figure out what that was, here’s what I didn’t like:
- The sound. Maybe because we saw an advanced screening (by one day… woohoo…) or maybe it was the theater, but I felt like the sound was turned down, specifically the dialogue. I definitely missed more than a few jokes, not to mention Reynolds’ voice was a little muffled by the mask. Or I’m just losing my hearing.
- Deadpool’s transformation: I thought it was a little too morose and drawn out. Yes, it’s supposed to be, as what happened to him was truly tragic, but it felt like it dragged on. I stopped caring about the terrible things they were doing to him and was waiting for the next act in the story.
- Gina Carano: She has a really awesome fight scene. And that’s about it. While it is common for the Marvel films to feature weak villains with even weaker motives (let’s be real, Loki is only popular because Tom Hiddleston is so damn charismatic). Both Ajax (played by Ed Skrein) and Carano’s Angel Dust are weak characters, but Angel Dust really fell flat. There was little purpose to her involvement in the film.
- The graphics: There’s a lot of CGI in this one, kids. Sometimes it worked (Deadpool’s injuries, like the hole in his arm seen in the trailer) and sometimes it didn’t (some of the action scenes with Wade flying through the air. He looked like a video game glitch, or what you see when you pause a Disney film at the right moment).
- Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic): Colossus felt like a mockery of the character. I don’t know enough about him to pass much judgment, but I feel like he’s not as “kumbaya-let’s-save-the-world” as they depicted him.
- The ending: BEGIN SPOILERS. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but the end just felt too clean. Big explosions, lots of chaos, and then everything is tied up with a neat little bow. I get that Reynolds and Director Tim Miller probably wanted the film to function as a standalone movie, in case it didn’t get a sequel (which it already has). But it still felt too perfect. Deadpool is messy. He’s not the guy who gets the happy ending. And yet he does here. END SPOILERS.
So, I guess that’s the answer to my question. Granted, these are mostly minor complaints that I could overlook. However the end didn’t hit its mark with me, and that’s why I can’t fully endorse the film as a “must-see.”
In sum, the film absolutely shined at times. Leslie Uggams was wonderful as Blind Al. The dialogue was brilliant. The fourth wall-breaking could not have been done any better. Wade Wilson was absolutely the Deadpool we all know and love from the comics. There were Easter eggs galore. So, if you’re a comic book fan or a Deadpool fan, I really think you’ll really enjoy the film. If not, well, you may like it, but it probably won’t be your favorite film of the year.
4.5 Chimichangas out of 5