Review: ‘Deadpool’ (2016) | Pop Culture Crossing

            Having been introduced to Deadpool in the 2006 game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and really enjoying the character, replete with deadly skills, a life-saving healing factor, and a brand of humor that was nearly as sharp as his katanas and as quick as his teleportation, I instantly became a fan of Deadpool. To me, Peter Parker was no longer the only wise-cracking character on the Marvel roster. However, many versions of Deadpool exist across various mediums, but this rather light, fun version was the one I truly enjoyed. More mature and adult versions of Deadpool exist, including the interpretation reflected in 2013’s Deadpool video game.

            Once the film was greenlit for an R rating, it was clear that the more mature interpretation was the one that would be reflected in the movie. This was also evident by the red-band trailers that were released during the film’s brilliant and unmatched marketing campaign. So, what did someone who was a fan of a different version of Deadpool think about the movie? Well, you are in the right place.

            The film followed Wade Wilson, a mercenary, who falls in love with a woman named Vanessa. Shortly thereafter, Wilson discovers that cancer is ravaging his body. He undergoes an ambiguous procedure that claims to heal him and made him invincible. It does not take long before he realizes that the experiment is not all it seemed. A group is conducting experiments on subjects in an attempt to make them “super slaves.” Compounding the problem is the fact that the man who oversaw Wilson’s experiment, Ajax, kidnaps Vanessa. Wilson, now with his new abilities, then sets his sights on Ajax in an attempt to liberate his girlfriend.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

            One of the biggest areas of concern was the movie’s pacing. The opening sequence was gripping, as it was infused with great action sequences. The movie utilized a flashback and exposition format that took the viewers to and from story elements in the present and past. I respect using a more nuanced approach with forgoing a linear storytelling style, but this style did not seem to fit this movie. The scenes in the “present” were the best sequences in the film, while the pace came screeching to a halt during the “past” interstitials.

            As advertised, Deadpool’s content was very mature. I did enjoy the combat, Deadpool’s famous fourth wall-breaking trait, as well as his “combat commentary.” However, more often than not, the movie was filled with ridiculously puerile and lazy dialogue. A fair amount could have been left on the cutting room floor in order to further the “present” story.

            Deadpool is definitely not intended for younger audiences or those who are repulsed by non-stop, mindless toilet humor. It felt a bit awkward knowing that there were a quite a few younger viewers in the audience with their parents. One “joke” in particular fell flat in a gross way. This scene was the one in which Wilson and his girlfriend, Vanessa, were flirting and she started talking about how she had been molested. The way this played out was intended to be funny, which is beyond me, but it ended up being anything but that. The theater I was in was silent during this exchange, and, fittingly, drew no laughs. Cringeworthy, indeed.

            Overall, Deadpool had great performances. Ryan Reynolds was on point during the movie’s marketing and that same level of performance was transplanted into the film itself. Deadpool’s costume was striking and mind-blowingly realized; it was great to see every time it was on screen. Reynolds is definitely on par with Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey, Jr. in terms of character absorption.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

            Yet at times it seemed as though there were two different versions of Wilson. In the present, the character was a great anti-hero who, though violent and vulgar, was likeable in his own way. On the other hand, the Wade Wilson from the flashback sequences, particularly before he met Vanessa, was a rapscallion. Granted, this does have a positive angle, because it illustrates Wilson’s character arc and development as the narrative progressed, but at the time, it was rather repulsive, especially when the pacing changed from the present to the flashback scenes.

            Even though Reynolds was the star, he was well-supported. Morena Baccarin delivered a good performance Wilson’s love interest. It was a shame that her character did not become the Copycat character, but that kept it from being predictable. Additionally, it was disappointing that the bulk of her scenes were in the flashback narrative which contributed to the movie’s poor pacing.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

            T.J. Miller’s Weasel was also a solid performance. Some of his dialogue, a big portion which had been in the trailers, had already been seen and was very far-fetched. The obscenities were so prevalent that it made some of his lines very illogical and mindless in an attempt to be overly boorish because the film was granted its R rating. Nevertheless, his performance and character was better than had expected.

            The X-Men characters, Stefan Kapicic’s Colossus and Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead, provided a great balance to the cast as they offered a breath of fresh air into the film when needed. Their presence was typically accompanied by sharp, witty jokes directed at Twentieth Century Fox and its X-Men franchise. Additionally, they delivered enjoyable action sequences.

            Ed Skrein’s Ajax was the film’s antagonist. His execution effectively juxtaposed Reynold’s Deadpool, bringing great balance on the protagonist/anti-hero and antagonist spectrum. Gina Carano’s Angel Dust was, sadly, forgettable. Skrein’s performance overshadowed Carano’s and her nearly mute character was unable to stand on her own amongst the other members of the cast.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

            The cinematography was superb, especially in terms of action sequences. Excellent framing and camera angles helped accentuate the crazy, brutal, and humorous combat, and, of course, Deadpool’s costume. Deadpool’s use of asides was also effectively depicted and did not feel stilted.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | TSG Entertainment Finance

            There were some sequences were the CG and jokes could have been better executed or omitted. Some scenes with Wilson post-experiment were not sensitively used. Wilson, in some portions of the film, looked like he had in fact survived a comic book-style experiment, while in other scenes he looked like a severe burn victim. This stood out as being distasteful because when he really looked this way, Weasel made unnecessary jokes about Wilson’s appearance. I am skeptical this was done intentionally, but it may rub some people the wrong way.

            Tim Miller’s direction was disjointed; it was at once impressive and tepid. He did a great job in his management of the production design, especially in the wardrobe department. Miller did a jaw-dropping job at directing the film’s action sequences, which are among the top action scenes of any comic book film. Yet the discontinuous nature of the story and the poor use of expository devices did not bring the final product together; rather it broke the film’s pace and uniformity and made it feel as though two competing movies were being presented. Further, the overplayed vulgar dialogue and explicit components left large portions of the movie, particularly the flashback sequences, feeling stale and jejune.

            In conclusion, I initially thought Deadpool was a fairly good movie. It grew on me a bit, but that does not change the fact that I thought the language and crude content should have been trimmed down more before the final cut was rendered. I did enjoy its nuances and respected what it did regarding breaking the fourth wall and action sequences. This, coupled with its box office success will likely affect future films, but this interpretation reflected a specific version of Deadpool. Thus the formula used in this movie is not guaranteed to bring success to other properties. Deadpool was a dramatically different interpretation of the character than the one to whom I was introduced in 2006, and the one whom I prefer. This movie is definitely not for everyone and should only be viewed by age-appropriate audiences.  

Back Matter:[1]

Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox 

Production: Twentieth Century Fox; Marvel Entertainment; Kinberg Genre; The Donner’s Company; TSG Entertainment

Director: Tim Miller

Producer: Simon Kinberg; Ryan Reynolds; Lauren Shuler Donner

Screenwriter: Rhett Reese (screenplay); Paul Wernick (screenplay); Fabian Nicieza (character);  Rob Liefeld (character)

Director of Photography: Ken Seng

Editor: Julian Clarke

Costume Designer: Angus Strathie

Casting Director: Rona Kress

Art Director: Greg Berry; Nigel Evans

Production Designer: Sean Haworth

Orchestrator: Jonathan Beard; Edward Trybek; Henri Wilkinson

Budget: ca. $58,000,000

Release Date: February 12, 2016 (USA)

Cinematographic Process: ARRIRAW; Digital Intermediate

Laboratory: EFilm

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Copyright Holder: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; TSG Entertainment Finance

Cast: Ryan Reynolds; Morena Baccarin; Ed Skrein; T.J. Miller; Karan Soni; Stefan Kapicic; Brianna Hildebrand; Randal Reeder; Isaac C. Singleton, Jr.; Gina Carano; Leslie Uggams; Jed Rees; Raylor Hickson

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Rating: R; Descriptors: Strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity[2]

Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes (108 mins.)