MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Deadpool’ is a curious twist on the superhero formula

A wonderfully strange, hilarious "superhero" film that blows through every genre constraint with its middle finger in the air

| February 7, 2016

At first, the superhero genre was something I was completely enthralled with, but have since become more and more tired of. Sure, Marvel Studios is churning out some pretty good films, even having some, like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” easily set themselves up as some of the best the genre has ever seen, but in August, the Fox reboot of “Fantastic Four” put a lot of things into perspective for me. Seeing as how atrocious it was, it reminded me that not that many things have changed since 2005 and that this genre is not impervious to being awful. It also doesn’t help that it seems now that Marvel is going to continue to beat the hell out of the “Spider-Man” franchise until there’s no more web left for Peter Parker to shoot. Add to this the fact that we’re beginning to make films costing $150 million for origin stories of superheroes people have never heard of and I get the feeling this horse died a long time ago.

But then we got “Deadpool.”

“Deadpool” isn’t the best superhero film to come around in this renaissance, but it easily sets itself up as the most daring superhero film the world has ever seen. It has become increasingly rare for big budget blockbusters to receive R-ratings, especially that of the goldmine of superhero films, with only “Watchmen” and “The Punisher”/”Punisher: War Zone” being the ones to take on this rating. (I don’t count the “Daredevil” director’s cut because what was shown in theaters was PG-13). Even then, all three films were met with mixed-to-negative reviews and were rated R for the darkness of the plots and for graphic violence. Meanwhile, “Deadpool,” while having quite a bit of graphic violence, earns most of its rating from the absolutely filthy language and sexual scenes pervading the entire film, which automatically sets itself apart from even the rare R-rated films as something of its very own.

Ryan Reynolds, known for playing Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool in the critically panned “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” returns in this reboot as Wilson, after the aforementioned film completely rewrote the comic character with something more PG-13, this time they get it right. From the opening credits, it’s obvious that “Deadpool” isn’t a movie you’re going to take seriously in the slightest and if you do, you probably shouldn’t be at the movies in the first place. Reynolds absolutely nails the character, if not simply for his borderline annoying demeanor he takes on so wonderfully. Notice how I said borderline annoying? That’s the genius of the dialogue in “Deadpool,” the film hits the perfect balance of humor, without ever going into the annoying category. Wilson is an obnoxious character, but a very likable one too, one that Reynolds doesn’t even seem to be trying in, he just is Deadpool.

While the supporting characters take the back-seat (or even the trunk) to Reynolds’ Deadpool, they’re not without merit either. Ed Skrein, who I lambasted for his bratty, unlikable demeanor as the protagonist in “The Transporter Refueled,” actually does a good job as the main villain, Ajax, simply because of his bratty, unlikable demeanor. Ajax is a villain that has a wonderful front of knowing what he’s doing, but finds himself at a clueless disadvantage when Deadpool shows up. Brianna Hildebrand and the voice of Stefan Kapicic make an X-Men dream team as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus, two X-Men hell-bent on getting Deadpool to join the group. Hildebrand;s Negasonic Teenage Warhead is the closest thing that Deadpool ever finds to a match in this film, firing back when she can against Wade’s constant belittling and she hits bullseye. Morena Baccarin turns her typical image on its head as Vanessa, a sex worker who falls in love with Wade and is every bit his equal in terms of vulgarity, proves that Baccarin has a range no one knew existed before, at least beyond her typical cold, classy demeanor.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of “Deadpool,” it might actually behoove you to not research much on it, as to make the discovery process of this character you have probably bypassed your entire life even more magical. Director Tim Miller, a first time director, handles the simplistic plot with ease and does very well with the scale given his visual effects background. Any time a director does good work, it’s a nicety, but to see a first time director pretty much stick the landing, something that many filmmakers can’t do after years of experience, is something to behold and a complete relief, as I was scared of the potential results.

The writing in “Deadpool” is where the film truly shines. While the plot doesn’t go anywhere that 50 other superhero movies haven’t already gone before, it’s the character of Wilson and the dialogue that set this film apart from the others. The sometimes shocking dialogue is absolutely hilarious to behold, with many jokes coming from nowhere that you would never expect in a film like this. The character of Deadpool is also a nice breather, as he is in no way the typical hyper-masculine superhero we’ve come to expect. Sure, Reynolds is insanely ripped and an absolute pleasure to look at, but his character embraces a lot of feminine qualities about him that was really refreshing to see in a world so permeated by manliness.

It’s best to go into “Deadpool” knowing as little as possible, as it only sweetens the pot of the jokes made throughout. “Deadpool” is far funnier than most “comedies” we see on the market today and proves to be shocking without ever being truly offensive, which something like “Dirty Grandpa” just couldn’t seem to master. Reynolds is absolutely perfect in the role and completely nails every scene he’s in. Miller, like the rest of the film, is pretty self-aware that the plot of “Deadpool” isn’t incredibly layered and epic, focusing far more on the character interactions, while never losing sight of the scale of the action scenes (this film would be a perfect watch in IMAX). “Deadpool” is a strange film as well, if not simply for its uniqueness, but also just for the grimy, gritty feel that permeates through the film. This is a curious take on this increasingly tired genre that is the superhero movie and for something to challenge its genre so daringly and to pull it off, “Deadpool” is pretty damn special.

4/5

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic, Leslie Uggams.
Runtime: 108 minutes
Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
Also available in IMAX

Twentieth Century Fox presents, in association with Marvel Entertainment, a Kinberg Genre/Donners’ Company production, “Deadpool”

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Film

Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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