Opinion - Scorsese and Coppola Vs. the MCU: Are we focusing on the wrong argument?
October 25, 2019
Nuking The Cat
Last Refuge of the Sensible Nerd
Movie Review - Deadpool
February 22, 2016
There are just these moments when the stars align, you know? Let me show you what I mean. December, 1978. Superman: The Movie is unleased upon the world, to this day affecting how people see the Man of Steel. June, 1989. Batman. While not as lasting a definition of the character as ‘78’s Superman, it was pivotal in changing the way the character was perceived from that day on, snapping the stranglehold Adam West and the 60’s TV show had on the mantle of the Bat. May, 2002. Cinema screens are “Thwipped” by Sam Raimi’s take on the long awaited big screen debut of Spider-Man. And I could go on…Jon Favreau’s Iron Man and especially Joss Whedon’s first Avengers spring to mind…James Gunn’s Guardians too. What do all these films have in common aside from being comic book films? They’re the ones that not only got it right…they got it PERFECT. They struck the winning formula of a director and writer(s) that cared passionately for the character and actors that were not only big fans but also just clicked with the folks behind the scenes. Call it chemistry, call it movie magic, call it whatever you like…but the result are films that go on to become CLASSICS. And we’re very lucky to add another film to this hallowed group: Deadpool.
[Insert record-scratching sound here. – Ed.]
No, seriously. Hear me out. Okay, dammit, it’s the internet…um…read me out then. Doesn’t really have the same impact though…does it? [You wanna maybe get on with it? – Ed.] A Deadpool film had been in development ever since X-Men Origins: Wolverine, released back in May, 2009. (Definitely NOT a classic, by the way.) That’s seven years ago. [Thanks but unlike you, we can do simple math. – Ed.] And comic book nerds felt like, give the travesty that was “Deadpool” in that film, that Fox TOTALLY owed us one. Okay, scratch that. Some internet research [Translation – Wikipedia…again. – Ed.] has revealed actually they’ve been trying to get this off the ground since 2004 back at New Line…with David Goyer attached to write and, surprising no one, Ryan Reynolds to star. Hm. Did not know that. Fox picked it up in 2005…and sat on it. After Reynolds’ turn as Wade Wilson in the Origins: Wolverine film, talk of a Deadpool spin-off started, with producer Laura Shuler Donner insisting on rebooting the character. Gotta love those Donners’, man…they take care of their shit! Mostly anyway…she did allow X-Men 3 and Origins: Wolverine to happen…so even the best can clearly make mistakes. Anyway…where were we? Oh, yeah, 2009…Origins: Wolverine happened. In January 2010, the writers of Zombieland, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were brought on board. In what will become a theme for this production, their early draft of the film leaked online (I didn’t read it…I know, I know, bad nerd…bad, bad, bad nerd) to positive response. From that, Fox decides to kick over some money for test footage. Well, for that, you need a director. Robert Rodriguez was in the running for a bit, but ultimately the prize fell to Tim Miller, head of video game and effects company Blur Studio. Now, I will say that if you watch any of Blur’s video game cutscenes (some of my favorites from their oeuvre include Injustice, Knights of the Old Republic, the Batman Arkham games, DC Universe Online, Transformers War for Cybertron…and I could swear they did the cutscenes for the PS2 Tranformers Armada game too)…anyway, you know that…damn. They’re that damn good. So, Miller gets the nod…but we’re still back in 2011. We’ve got 5 years to go here. Miller creates test footage via motion capture with Ryan Reynolds in 2012…this ends up being the footage that leaked in 2014 that, yet again, met with rave internet reviews (this I DID watch) and it was from this reaction that at long last…Fox greenlit the project.
The result is everything that leaked footage promised…and soooooo much more. Here’s the thing, the leaked footage promised us action, comedy, fourth-wall breaking…you know, all the Deadpool staples. The film itself gives us these things, of course, and gives us some romance too…and ACTUAL STAPLES! [You know, usually I dock you for this sort of thing…but it’s clever…I’ll allow it. – Ed.] But it all works. At no point does anything feel tacked on. At no point does it feel like the studio interfered (ahem…Fantastic 4 what?). The film feels like any of the aforementioned classics do…a pure, creative vision that absolutely hits every mark it aims for. So, let’s gush about those, shall we?
I’d start with the opening credits…but if you haven’t seen the film, well, that’d kinda spoil it…so perhaps the best thing for me to say would be that these are opening credits that will stick in your mind forever. And come on, it takes one hell of a movie to get you to remember the opening credits…really, only Superman: The Movie springs to mind prior to seeing Deadpool. And just as Superman’s opening credits gave you the feeling that you were in store for something epic, Deadpool’s opening credits also hits you with the main tone of the film; comedically self-depircating. The song that accompanies these credits…well, certainly not as stirring as my previous example…but if you saw the leaked test footage, then you know what to expect: Juice Newton’s Angel of the Morning. Flashback time, kiddies [DAMN YOOOOOOOOU! – Ed.]…you see, my mom used to play this CD with Juice Newton’s either 10 or 12 “greatest hits” over and over again for a fair amount of the mid to late 90’s. I came to really kinda hate the Juice. But, not only has the sanctity of the ‘Pool purged my hate…now the damn song is stuck in my head. While we’re talking about music, yeah, you’ll never listen to Chicago’s ‘You’re The Inspiration’ the same way ever again. [Yes, now some of you might even actually be able to tolerate it! – Ed.]
How about the man himself? Well, as mentioned already, Reynolds gave us a taste in 2009 in Origins: Wolverine, but here we get the whole damn chimichanga. And just like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Kevin Conroy’s Batman voice, this is very simply the role he was born to play. It’s casting that is perfect made even more perfect by all the cheap shots he takes at himself throughout the film, be it his jabs at his turn as Green Lantern or his acting career in general. Everything about his delivery and choices throughout the film is just spot on for the character. And in this day and age of peerless celebrity vanity, he deserves a HUUUUUUGE attaboy for doing what so many wouldn’t…going for the full mask for as often as it’s needed…and when it wasn’t, going through what had to be a lengthy make-up process to achieve Wade’s post-mutation scarred visage.
You don’t get a movie this good without a supporting cast that’s able to go toe-to-toe with the lead….and that’s exactly what we get here. Morena Baccarin plays a multi-facetted Vanessa. Sure, she ends up being a damsel in distress, but refreshingly, that’s not her main function, as she really is an equal and opposite to Wade and is a big reason why the romantic subplot just works so well. Okay, that and those are a pair that I’ve wanted to see for a while and, like so many other things, this movie specializes in giving the audience what it wants. I, uh, certainly have a heightened awareness of March 8th, International Women’s Day, thanks to her. T. J. Miller…well, I’ll be honest, I don’t like the guy very much. He annoyed the piss out of me in Transformers 4, so if there was anyone that I knew I was going to single out for not carrying their weight in the film, I figured it was going to be him, but his performance as Weasel was tolerable…in fact, I’d go so far as to even say ‘all right’. Our main villains, Ed Skrein as Ajax and Gina Carano as Angel Dust, hit all the main marks they need to…they’re pretty unlikeable and you enjoy seeing them get their eventual comeuppance…but there’s not much…hey, wait a sec…you know, they do actually serve as a seeming counterpoint to Wade and Vanessa, don’t they? I mean, as I said earlier, Wade and Vanessa are played pretty much as equals in their relationship whereas Ajax is clearly in charge and Angel Dust is clearly a hench-wench. Also, sure, I’m being superficial, but Morena Baccarin is hot as Vanessa while Carano kinda looks like she’s let herself go a bit as Angel Dust. Seriously pull up the Google image search. Compare the images you get there to how she looks in Deadpool and you’ve got two possible scenarios: super-steroids the likes of which we haven’t seen since Stallone in the final Rambo movie or some serious nom nom nom. [If you keep this up, you know THEY are going to come here…AGAIN. Look, after your Lifeforce review, the Feminist Reprogramming Commando Death Squad threatened to leave a garrison here and I’d REALLY rather not have to deal with that again! – Ed.] Okay, fine. Hell, it took me three weeks to stop crocheting afghans after their last visit. Ahem…where was I? [Supporting cast. – Ed.] Leslie Uggams and Karan Soni don’t get a lot of screen time as Blind Al, Deadpool’s roommate, and Dopinder the cab driver respectively, but it’s certainly a case of quality over quantity. Watching a blind old woman putting together an Ikea dresser all the while getting into an argument over various models and their stereotypically Scandinavian names is just about as good as it gets…well, except when it has to compete with a lovelorn cabbie asking for advice from our favorite merc with a mouth…which results in kidnapping, inadvertent murder that was going to happen anyway and potentially more kidnapping. Last, but certainly not least, are our two X-Men guest stars, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Colossus gets stuck with the role of straight-man to Deadpool, always championing doing good and being a hero, never stopping his pressure for DP to join the team. And damned if he doesn’t steal every single scene he’s in…whether it’s pointing out how breakfast is the most important meal of the day or halting a heated battle due to…ahem…a wardrobe malfunction. And he even manages to have one of the more poignant speeches I’ve ever heard about heroism. As one would expect, this moment doesn’t last very long. NTW (yeah, I’m not typing all that out) you can tell was meant to be Cannonball, but the switch works well and provides a good brief satire on millennials.
The story of the movie is a basic revenge tale…perfect for a film where the protagonist is an anti-hero. Its non-linear nature, akin to how Man of Steel was set up with exposition provided by flashbacks scattered throughout the movie, works exceptionally well here, because, let’s face it, 90 minutes of joke after joke after joke can get old fast. [Want an example? Check out our Superman III review. – Ed.] By breaking it up like this, it helps provide the emotional roller coaster an audience needs. And although I started this paragraph with ‘basic revenge tale’…well, as I’ve said before, it’s not so much the story you tell, it’s how you tell it…and with everything I’ve mentioned in this review so far…this is very much a superior telling of that basic tale.
Oh, and I have to point out…the folks at Fox are some crafty bastards. You see, there’s this thing that the final confrontation between Deadpool and Ajax takes place on…it looks like an aircraft carrier except you’d swear it’d be able to fly…cough-helicarrier-cough…guarded by some guys all in black, you know, stereotypical bad-guy lackey sort…except we find out one of them is named Bob and a friend of Deadpool’s. Bob works for a particular agency in the comics…and in a certain cinematic universe…said organization might have infiltrated another organization that had these flying aircraft carrier thingies. Yeah…I gotta admit, this took some balls to do…but then again, I think that can be said about the entire movie.
Lastly, I really need to get this off my chest…the film is a HARD R. There is language, there is gore, there is plenty of violence, there’s sex and nudity…and hell…goddamn PEGGING. [Don’t look that up while you’re at work…we’re here to help. – Ed.] If we go to what the MPAA had to say about it, the official line is: “Strong Violence and Language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity”. So let me spell it out for you…NOT A GODDAMN KID’S MOVIE. Each of the showings I’ve gone to I’ve seen goddamn kids at each one. Now, look, R is no one under 17 is admitted without parent or guardian…and honestly, I wouldn’t mind it if these kids were 15 or 16…but these damn kids have been like 10-12…NOT GODDAMN APPROPRIATE. And I’m not even a damned parent. Look, I want you to see Deadpool. In case you’ve been paying attention to all the gushing I’ve done here, I love it and I think you will too…but DAMMIT leave the kiddies at home. They can catch the next movie…be it Batman Vs Superman or Captain America: Civil War. I can’t actually believe I have to fucking say this…
Mini-rant aside, yes, go see Deadpool. It’s crass, it’s bloody, it’s violent, it’s got boobs…it’s perfect. It’s lightning in a bottle. It’s one of those rare moments when Hollywood not only gets it right, but outright kills it. Cast, crew, writing and direction all care deeply about the characters involved and work tirelessly to make sure everything in the film holds true…and it all shows. Even better? It’s one of those rare moments when the ever-interfering studios let them get away with it. Welcome to the hall of classics, Deadpool…it’s about goddamn time!
Now if you’ll excuse me…I have to tend to a unicorn and a pair of crocs…