Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Review: Deadpool

Year: 2016
Director: Tim Miller
Screenplay: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand Stefan Kapičić

Synopsis is here

Crazy, violent and crammed full of self-relevance and meta-humour, Deadpool, with its in your face snark and obnoxiousness, comes at the viewer as aggressively as its marketing. For the most part, it pulls its nonsense off with an entertainingly reckless abandon. It may not be Airplane! (1982), but looks to aim for the dizzying highs of The Zucker brothers joke ratios. Then again, noticing that Deadpool’s screenplay is credited to the writers of Zombieland (2009), you shouldn’t be surprised. If you happen to have a penchant for penis jokes, you’ll also be in good stead.

Deadpool’s love for smut, breaking the fourth wall and general piss-taking of the recent comic book genre is not only quite refreshing, but it papers over the fact that there’s little else in the film apart from this. While holding similar elements, it doesn’t push the bar of comic adaptations in the same way that Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s American Splendor (2003) manages. The latter movie shaped and warped art and life in a far more striking way. However, as a mainstream, superhero movie, Deadpool’s zaniness isn’t aiming for anything life affirming, and its fubar prat-falling helps distract from its tepid storytelling and blunt, uninspiring action.

Luke Owen’s recent article for Film School Rejects, touches on the idea that the film itself wants us to watch bad movies. Deadpool revels in snide side swipes of failed/poor comic book franchises (Green Lantern and X-Men Origins get a hefty brunt of the shade thrown). The main argument that Owen places across is that if you’ve not seen these poor cinematic entries, then Deadpool loses a certain amount of its edge. Others have noted that Deadpool does little to subvert comic book origin cliché and merely apes them. It is quite difficult not to be reminded visually/structurally of entries such as the sub-standard Spawn (1997) or non-comic book comic movie Darkman (1990) while watching Deadpool, among other films. It’s also difficult to ignore just how typical Deadpool is when the chimichangas aren’t being served.

Then again, Marvel Studios wishes you to read comics, watch T.V series and films in order for you to keep up with its chaotic timelines. Also, only now we’re getting into a position where new marvel characters won’t be set up with origin stories. The smirking, winking Deadpool clearly enjoys being part of that playground. It acknowledges its faults superficially, yet with a certain knowing charm. We are given nods to pop culture like Hello Kitty and The Matrix (1999) all the while bopping our heads to the specifically 80’s/90’s soundtrack, featuring the old school earworm Shoop by Salt n Pepa as well as Ruff Ryder favourite DMX’s X Gon Give It To Ya. Irony shouldn’t be lost on the fact that Wade/Deadpool is part of Team X in X-Men: Origins: Wolverine and is Weapon XI in that movie as well. It’s hard to see much of what it does as unintentional. There’s sometimes method to its madness.

It is hard to gain any sense of weight to Deadpool’s action sequences, which, despite their gore content, feel clunky more than anything else. Say what you like about Bryan Singer’s X-Men (Deadpool does often), but Singer at least gives us a memorable set piece in each film. Deadpool’s set pieces, merely mimics most of the comic book movies it parodies. Case in point, the film’s loud, crashing shipping yard climax, could easily feature in a number of previous Marvel films. As could the hum drum villains, although the opening credit sequence pretty slyly digs at Hollywood’s typical leanings when it comes to villainy.

Deadpool’s main strength is its cast chemistry and the rapid torrent of gags. Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin are enjoyable together as is Reynolds and T.J Miller. The banter is juvenile and irrelevant, but the point of Deadpool seems to be that there’s little point other than juvenile irrelevance, something that does feel refreshing with the slightly disturbing knowledge of the sheer volume of upcoming comic book movies smacking our eyeballs. Deadpool’s fourth wall “knowledge” and childishness may not make it a superhero movie landmark, but it is a relatively amusing diversion.