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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Review: Deadpool (2016)

Warning: May Contains Spoilers
Deadpool has been one of the most anticipated comic book movies of 2016 with the hype surrounding it easily surpassing that of X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman v. Superman. With that in mind let's start the review but be in mind some spoilers may be present in the review.

Plot and Script
Mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is diagnosed with cancer just as he proposes to his girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin). Due to his successful mercenary career he is approached by a mysterious group able to give him superpowers. There one of the organizers of the group called Ajax (Ed Skrein) tortures him and gives him an astounding healing ability which also leaves him disfigured. Wilson now becoming the 'hero' Deadpool vows for revenge. Although the plot is very basic it fits perfectly for the film they were trying to make. Unlike X-Men which delves into detailed social commentary and plots where the entire world is at stake the plot to Deadpool simply focuses on one man's quest for revenge. It also fits very much with Deadpool as a character. In the comics Deadpool only becomes the hero when it suits him and until the last act of the film his quest for revenge is purely for his own means. However, he is a very likable character and the writers managed to balance the over the top comedian, likable person and self-centered fool. He seemed believable and made watching the film more enjoyable. 

Overall the characters are well written. Baccarin as Vanessa and T.J. Miller as Weasel (who also directed the film) were easily the best characters after the protagonist. They seemed to actually belong in the film and not shoehorned in for Deadpool to bounce jokes off of. I particularly enjoyed seeing the relationship between Wade and Vanessa because it seemed genuine. In a movie where they did not need to bother to create a somewhat genuine relationship this was a pleasant surprise. However, the same cannot be said for the villains. They are not bad by any means but compared to the interaction that Weasel and Vanessa got it seemed rather lacking. This could very well be nitpicking though. My only fault with the plot and script is the main villain Ajax. He seemed rather lackluster and forgettable in a film where most of the characters were very memorable. I could understand Angel Dust (Gina Carano) having less of a developed personality due to the fact that she is a henchman character but have the main antagonist have less of a character is hard to overlook. In the comics (and Deadpool: The Game) Deadpool often doesn't know the motivation of the people he fights, largely because he fights people for either money or when their plan inconveniences him, so this could have been a novel way in which it tried to keep with the comics but I doubt this. Overall the only downside to the plot is the antagonist.

Characters and Acting
Ryan Reynolds has given cinema one of the best adaptations of Deadpool. He managed to effectively portray the balance between joker, sadist and tragic character without impeding on any one of them. He is without a doubt hilarious and he manages to sustain this all the way through the movie even when the comedy starts to become somewhat stale. Miller as Weasel is similarly equally hilarious managing to effectively pull off a sleazy and droll best friend of a psychotic mercenary. As stated earlier Baccarin as Vanessa was one of the best characters in the movie. Baccarin is a good actor and she managed to inject comedy, seriousness and light heartedness into one role making her character very memorable. Compared to the romantic interests in other comic book movies, like Natalie Portman in Thor, she is very good and my only criticism surrounding her has nothing to do with Baccarin or how the character was written. My criticism is how she could have been in the movie more. I would have liked to see more of her in the movie and I felt they missed an opportunity to have her powers be shown in the film. In the comics she is a shapeshifting mutant called Copycat and it could have been a novel twist for the film.

Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) are very funny in the movie offering a good satire on the X-Men series. By adhering to their stereotypes they managed to offer unique comedy that often falls flat when using stereotypes. Although lacking the in depth character development of Deadpool, Vanessa and Weasel what development they did have made the characters much more engaging. As stated earlier the antagonists were a let down. They were well acted but it was not enough to fully save the character. A lack of any form of development made possibly memorable villains seem lackluster. Considering that Guardians of the Galaxy had the same sort of humor, running time, protagonist development and had a primary antagonist with not one but two secondary antagonists but still managed to have memorable villains it seems disappointing. Overall the film has great acting and great protagonists but weaker antagonists.

Comedy and References
I am someone who normally does like comedy films. With comedy being very subjective and the humor that I like the most rarely gets the big screen treatment, I find for every Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead there are a dozen Adam Sandler movies. However the comedy in Deadpool was some of the funniest comedy that I have seen in a film in years. During the opening credits I had to stifle my laughter seeing the clever satire of comic book movie opening credits and how they were written as if from Deadpool's point of view (Reynolds is listed as 'God's Perfect Idiot', Baccini as 'A Sex Object', Skein as 'A British Villain', Miller as 'An Overpaid Stooge' and Stan Lee as 'A Gratuitous Cameo'). Deadpool in the comics relies heavily on popular culture references, fourth wall breaks and childlike immaturity in serious situations which was perfectly transferred onto the big screen. I dreaded the pop culture references as I thought they would date the film and make it seem pandering to the immediate audience but the exact opposite happened. Most of the pop culture references served to mock other comic book movies (particularly X-Men with numerous jokes about Hugh Jackman) and when they did reference non-comic book movie media they chose to reference franchises which have been ingrained in pop culture. Instead of a Minions joke we got one about Adventure Time just to name one. However by the end of the film the humor had started to become predictable and I found myself laughing less and less. Luckily the delivery by Reynolds stopped it from being completely stale so they were not fully wasted.

Like other comic book movies Deadpool is full of references to other ones. My particular favorite is the after-credit scene where he spoofs the after-credit scene of Ferris Bueller's Day Off as well as the making reference to Samuel L Jackson playing Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man. The highway fight scene has the names of multiple comic book writers and artists who worked on Deadpool comics as well as the special effects department. The song that Deadpool listens to at the beginning was released the same year as Deadpool #1 and the film itself was released 25 years after his debut in New Mutants #98. There are so many that I cannot name them all here but one final reference is how the final fight takes place on what looks like to be a SHIELD Helicarrier. Fox does not own the right to use SHIELD but the little nod to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was nice.

Overall I would give Deadpool a 7.9/10 for the good acting, well written protagonists and hilarious humor. Hopefully the sequel hinted at in the after-credit scene will be just as good or if not better. 

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