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Sunday, February 14, 2016

DAMN Good Movies -- DEADPOOL


You guessed it, it's time once again for another of my movie takes, this one on the movie Deadpoolbased on Marvel Comics' merc with a mouth.  As always, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't want it spoiled for you, then please step back from your computer or whatever electronic device you're reading this on and stop reading now.  If, however, you're wise enough to know that movie reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...grab yourself a chimichanga and enjoy...

It's been a long and winding road for Deadpool.  The battle to bring Wade Wilson to the big screen started as far back as 2000, when Artisan Entertainment announced a deal with Marvel Entertainment to co-produce, finance and distribute the film.  In 2004, New Line Cinema made an attempt, with David S. Goyer working on the project and Ryan Reynolds in the title role.  However, New Line put the film in turnaround a year later, which is when 20th Century Fox got involved.  Fox thought about a Deadpool spinoff during the development of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which featured Reynolds as a bizarre version of the character that ended up with his mouth sewn shut and arm blades along with a variety of X-Men powers.  Thankfully, producer Lauren Shuler Donner wisely decided to ignore that hot mess, and in 2011, Tim Miller was hired as director.  The project stalled again, until the visual effects test footage suddenly leaked online in July 2014, which was very well-received by Deadpool fans and pushed Fox to announce the official release date two months later as part of a new X-Men shared cinematic universe.

The movie opens with Deadpool already suited up, attacking a convoy of cars on an expressway, and breaking the fourth wall to the audience before jumping back to his secret origin.  We see Wade Wilson working as a low-profile mercenary protecting teenage girls from would-be stalkers, until he meets Copycat Vanessa Carlysle, a sassy escort/prostitute at a local bar and they fall deeply, madly in love.  A year later, Wade ends up diagosed with terminal cancer and fears losing her, even though she remains right by his side.  The chemistry between Reynolds and Morena Baccarin is electric, as their characters complement one another perfectly and take full advantage of that R rating in a hot little sex scene.

Desperate to stay alive, Wade ends up recruited by the Weapon X program -- yes, that same program that created Wolverine -- and is injected with a special serum by the movie's Big Bad Ajax and tortured for days by Ajax's henchwoman Angel Dust to trigger a mutation inside Wade.  After being deprived of oxygen in an airtight chamber, Wade's skin becomes severly disfigured (or as Wade's best friend Weasel describes it later, "an avocado that had sex with an older avocado"), but with a handy-dandy little healing factor that effectively makes him immortal.

Eventually, we head right back to the events of the opening expressway sequence, learning that Deadpool really wants to get his mitts on Ajax for a cure to his avocadoesque appearance.  The battle gets interrupted by none other than the X-Man Colossus (now with an actual Russian accent) and his sulky Millennial sidekick Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who want Deadpool to join the X-Men for some bizarre reason.  Deadpool isn't really down with the idea, however, and ends up cutting off his own hand to escape a pair of handcuffs.

The gruesomeness, like most of the over-the-top violence in this movie, is played for laughs and captures the tone of most Deadpool comics.  The film is totally self-aware, knowing that it shouldn't take itself seriously and that you -- yes, you -- are an outright idiot if you're taking it seriously.  There are potshots at Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman being People's "Sexiest Man Alive," the lack of film budget to afford more than two X-Men, Reynolds' previous superhero appearance as Green Lantern, you name it, it's pretty much there.

The movie's Third Act takes us to a decommissioned aircraft carrier at a scrapyard, where Ajax has taken Vanessa hostage and has set up a trap for ol' Wade.  Deadpool, of course, talks Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead into helping him, giving us the predictable amount of superhero destruction and carnage.  And after Ajax is defeated and Vanessa is rescued, Deadpool does the craziest thing possible by reminding us that it's actually a love story.

Oh, and before I forget, you definitely need to watch the post-credit scenes.  If you're a diehard fan of the John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as I am, you'll love it. Chicka-chickaaaahhhh...

The movie's cast work well with one another, with a lot of fun exchanges and quippy dialogue.  Here are some of the things that stood out:

DEADPOOL/WADE WILSON -- Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, no way around it.  This movie was a passion project for Reynolds and it shows, as it sometimes feels as if he's been destined for the role since his breakout film National Lampoon's Van Wilder in 2002.  After Blade: Trinity and the disappointing Green Lantern adaptation in 2011, it seems Reynolds finally found his true superhero calling.

VANESSA CARLYSLE -- As the mandatory superhero damsel in distress, Morena Baccarin positively smolders in the role of Vanessa.  After her previous characters Inara Serra in Firefly and Serenity and Dr. Leslie Thompkins on Gotham, it's interesting to see her play a character with more than a bit of edge and sass.  I was a little disappointed though, that Vanessa didn't have her metamorphic superpowers as Copycat from the comics.  At least...not yet.

AJAX/FRANCIS FREEMAN -- You may remember Ed Skrein as the original, less impressive Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones or possibly as the wannabe Jason Staham replacement in The Transporter Refueled, and that's probably what you'll go on remembering after seeing him here.  Ajax is pretty much a one-note villain, a sadist who desperately wants Deadpool to say his name for some reason.  However, that makes him a perfect bad guy for Deadpool to mock and make fun of throughout the film.  Go figure.

WEASEL -- T.J. Miller is the mandatory comic relief in a film that's mostly comic relief.  As Weasel, Wade's best friend, he gets to trade quips with Wade and make fun of his new appearance.  He's there for one-liners and that's pretty much it.

ANGEL DUST -- After failing to become some comic fans' ideal Wonder Woman, Gina Carano ends up with the henchwoman role here.  She doesn't get much dialogue, although she does get a pretty funny scene where her breasts pop out during a fight scene with Colossus and takes advantage of him trying not to look.

COLOSSUS/PIOTR "PETER" RASPUTIN -- Stefan Kapičić voices a mo-cap version of Colossus, giving the character a Russian accent at long last, even though it comes off a little too Boris Badenov from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.  And after all the criticism against Bryan Singer's X-Men films not featuring Colossus in his metallic form for longer than two seconds, how great was it that he's metallic through this entire movie?

NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD -- Brianna Hildebrand is pretty much perfect as the eye-rolling, sarcastic teenage mutant that Deadpool keeps trying to win over.  Balancing her character with Colossus was a great idea, and I have to wonder if her black and yellow X-Men costume means she's going to be a member of The New Mutants in the upcoming spinoff film.

BLIND AL -- Leslie Uggams is Deadpool's roommate, a character who first appeared in the first issue of the original Deadpool comic by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness.  She's more comic relief who creates some wonderfully politically incorrect blind jokes and has a very odd scene with Deadpool's regenerating hand.

OBLIGATORY STAN LEE CAMEO -- Stan "The Man" turns up, I kid you not, as a strip club DJ.  The co-creator of Spider-Man, The Hulk and the X-Men shares screen time with topless strippers and it's pure magic.

ROB LIEFELD CAMEO -- As the person who swiped DC Comics' Deathstroke (I mean, Slade Wilson/Wade Wilson, come on!) co-created Deadpool with Fabian Nicieza in New Mutants (vol.1) #98, you knew Liefeld was going to be worked into the movie somehow.  He turns up as someone getting a tattoo that Wade briefly encounters and reluctantly acknowledges by his actual name.

All in all, Deadpool is the Deadpooliest film that Deadpool fans could ever have wished for. Ryan Reynolds' personal crusade to finally do the character justice on screen has totally paid off, so much so, the movie had a huge opening weekend and is already greenlit for a sequel.  And if you stayed to watch the post-credit scenes, you should know which major X-Men character is slated to be a part of it.

And for those who may be wondering, here's the updated list of my Top 20 Comic Book Films:

1. Superman (1978)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. The Avengers (2012)
4. Man of Steel (2013)
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
6. Spider-Man (2002)
7. Batman Begins (2005)

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

9. Iron Man (2008)
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
12. Watchmen (2009)
13. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
14. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
16. X-Men: First Class (2011)
17: The Wolverine (2013)

18. X2: X-Men United (2003)
19. X-Men (2000)

20. Deadpool (2016)

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