The Hippo


Apr 23, 2019









Deadpool (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

Ryan Reynolds finally nails the whole action star/superhero thing in Deadpool, a way better X-Men spinoff than those Wolverine movies.

And I’m not just saying that because the movie makes fun of both Wolverine and previous Ryan Reynolds superhero movies.
Forgive me if I mess up some bit of canonical comic book plot but, according to this movie: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-soldier who, in the movie’s earliest scenes chronologically, is now a muscle-for-hire type. But then he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a lady of the evening whose warped sense of humor is a perfect match for his. After a whirlwind romance, he proposes and she says yes and then he passes out. Turns out, it’s cancer. All the cancer. And medical science can offer him no hope.
Well, legitimate medical science.
A recruiter (Jed Rees) visits Wade to offer him a cure — better than a cure, really, since in addition to having his cancer fixed Wade would develop the abilities to become, well, super. At first, Wade turns the recruiter down with a brisk crudeness that would make X-Men: First Class Wolverine proud but then he decides why not and slips out of the apartment he shares with Vanessa to head to the superhero-manufacturing labs.
Except, of course, they don’t make heroes there, as the lab’s head Ajax/Francis (Ed Skrein) informs Wade, they make super slaves. Essentially, a special chemical plus lots of torture activates a mutant gene. The mutant power cures the cancer, at which point Ajax slaps a control collar on the newly minted mutant and they become muscle for whoever can pay the lab’s price.
After a lot of torture, Wade’s super strength and regenerative powers surface, but the process employed by the sadistic Ajax leaves him looking, as the line goes, like an avocado had a baby with an even older avocado. Wade frees himself from the lab and goes looking for Ajax, both in hopes that he can fix his appearance and to exact revenge. He gets a little help from old buddy Weasel (T.J. Miller), who helps Wade come up with the name Deadpool for his new, butt-kicking alter ego, and Al (Leslie Uggams), a blind lady who tells him to wear red to hide the blood and who takes him on as a roommate. Wade/Deadpool’s ultimate end game is getting back to Vanessa and the happiness he briefly had with her.
My teenage stepson, who has been waiting for this movie for years, asked me if it was true that Deadpool breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. There is no fourth wall in this movie, I told him. With all the People magazine covers of Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds and the jokes about whether this is set in McAvoy or Stewart timeline, Deadpool seems to take place in some meta-universe where the X-Men are both real and a popular film franchise. The opening credits perfectly set this tone, listing not the director and actors themselves but things like “the Hot Chick” and the British Villain and “God’s Perfect Idiot” (in reference to Reynolds) and describes others in the cast with a cheery use of crude slang and swear words that I can’t print but if ever there was a film worth showing up on time for, this is it. Wade constantly points out how a typical superhero would respond to some situation and then explains why he’s doing the opposite. And, after some X-Men — Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic, facial performance of Greg LaSalle and motion-capture performance of Andre Tricoteux, according to Wikipedia) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) — join the adventure we get plenty of jokes about the X-Men, both the characters and the movies. 
And swearing. So much swearing. The swearing in this movie is load-bearing, it is so dense and so thick. When you include the many gleefully crude comments and the Reynolds butt shots, this movie earns its R like few I’ve seen not involving war or Quentin Tarantino. The movie is so gratuitous in its, well, everything — violence, language, sex, discussions of sex acts often as part of insults — I almost felt like it was daring me to say it’s too much. And maybe it is. But as a comic book movie that feels like it was made for a specific kind of dude, I have to say, I didn’t hate Deadpool. It was fun — irreverent, smirking, tickled with its own cleverness, dirty and fun. It was Ant-Man, if Ant-Man was basically a horrible jerk and everything he said was something that would get you written up by Pym Technologies’ HR department. 
Reynolds has found his lane. He is not Chris Pratt, he is not Robert Downey Jr., he is not Hugh Jackman. He is not playing Wade like an R-rated Magneto or a foul-mouthed Thor. He has made Deadpool his own character, a unique personality you can understand and get your arms around (in a way that Hal Jordan/Green Lantern never achieved). Though he’s not repeating one of the aforementioned stand-out superhero performances, he does, like Pratt and Downey and Jackman did, create a fun character who mixes the superhero world with an audience surrogate response to the superhero world (plus a little bit of audience wish-fulfillment) and give us somebody we’re willing to go on an adventure with.
An adventure or maybe even just an amusement park ride, which is possibly a good way of describing what Deadpool is. Deadpool isn’t an important movie and it doesn’t necessarily do anything new with the format, but it has a ridiculously good time taking you to all the places it knows you expect to go. B+
Rated R — like, seriously R, do not bring the kids — for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity. Directed by Tim Miller and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Deadpool is an hour and 48 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 

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