Review – Spiderman with Attitude (“Deadpool”)

If you’re a fanboy, you’ve been waiting for this movie for quite a while. The 4th-wall-breaking lunatic superhero with twin samurai swords and guns has been a comic book anti-hero favorite for sometime ever since Ryan Reynolds played a version of him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However this movie is, to quote Monty Python, completely different.

Just outside the Marvel wheelhouse, we have Wade Wilson (Reynolds), an ex-mercenary who now does odd-jobs as a do-gooder bad-guy who falls in love with a gorgeous strip club waitress named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). But not all fairy tales have happy endings, as Wade tells us, the audience (in many 4th-wall-breaking moments) and soon he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. Bummer. But a secret off-the-grid clandestine organization has a possible cure… sorta.

In a terribly painful experiment that, he’s told, will make him a superhero, Wade is subjected to a radical mutant-gene formula by real nasty bad guy (and mutant), Ajax (Ed Skrein). Things go very sideways and Wade gets his superpowers of regeneration all right, but at the cost of being blown-up and horribly disfigured. Thought dead and with revenge on his mind, Wade assumes the guise and Spiderman-like costume of Deadpool and goes on the hunt for Ajax which, as we see in flashbacks from the film’s opening, takes some time to happen.

Meanwhile, Deadpool’s only super comrades are X-Men’s Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), a towering man of pure metal and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), a brooding goth teen who can summon atomic blasts. Even though we see they’re from Xavier’s Home For Gifted Children (from all the past X-Men movies), we never see anyone else there, a revelation that isn’t missed by Deadpool by delivering a delicious inside joke. He bides his down-time by laying low in a run-down shack with a cranky old woman named Blind Al (60’s Broadway star Leslie Uggams).

Anyway, as the gruesome body count of Ajax’s goons and co-horts grows, Deadpool gets closer to his mark. Ajax then pulls the standard “kidnap the heroes girlfriend for leverage and the final fight scene”. This all takes place at an abandoned aircraft carrier scrapyard where the climatic shoot-out and knock-down/drag-out fight scenario takes place. Yeah, this plot is the same ‘ol, same ‘ol you’ve seen a million times in practically every action movie before, but this movie spins it with such self-awareness of that very point, that it all seems fresh and new and, best of all, fun!

With a very standard A to B to C plot by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, the team that brought us Zombieland and the forgettable G.I. Joe: Retaliation, what sets this screenplay above the norm is the fact that it’s written more like fun fan-fiction. The whole movie is mercilessly peppered with referential inside jokes, digs to old Ryan Reynold movies (even Reynolds makes fun of himself), stabs at Hugh Jackman and old X-Men movies, callbacks to other movies, talking directly to audience, and is just plain silly amongst the carnage with dollops of gratuitous sex and coarse language. Like I said, it’s like a horny 15-year-old wrote it.

But, that’s not to say this movie isn’t good. You’d never know that this is director Tim Miller’s directorial debut. He doesn’t play it safe at all with some terrific camera moves, exciting action shots, slo-mo effects, and great fight choreography. The man pulls out all the stops and just goes for broke. In the opening hilarious credits the producers are labeled “asshats” and the director is called “a tool”. LOL! A sequel has just been greenlit and I hope that Miller will direct again.

As far as the cast goes, you couldn’t have cast better than the wise-cracking Reynolds. He IS Deadpool and you can tell he’s loving this role. One wonders how much of the script was ad-libbed by him. T. J. Miller as Wade’s BFF/bar manager is quite funny and Skrein as the cool British mutant bad guy is sufficiently bad-ass. Baccarin plays a feisty and beautiful heroine, having great chemistry with Reynolds, even though she’s pretty much just eye-candy here, unlike her role on TV’s Gotham.

Darkman (1990)

What happens if you’re brilliant director Sam Raimi and you’re denied the rights to do a Batman or The Shadow movie? You write your own superhero movie! Hmmm…  how about an ordinary doctor that has a terrible accident happen to him by some bad guys, his girlfriend starts to see other guys, and then goes on a vengeful rampage after being turned into a superhero? Yeah, that’ll work!

Liam Neeson, in one of his early roles, stars as Dr. Peyton Westlake, a genius scientist who has developed a synthetic skin for burn victims. Problem is, this ‘skin’ breaks down and disintegrates after 99 minutes. His girlfriend, attorney Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), has discovered the Bellasarious Memorandum, an incriminating document that might prove that corrupt developer Louis Strack (Colin Friels) has been bribing members of the zoning commission.

Major problems arise when evil mob boss Robert Durant (Larry Drake) comes looking for Julie and that memorandum at Peyton’s lab. No Julie and no memorandum found? Oh, well… we’ll just disfigure Peyton and blow the place up while we’re here! Kaboom! With the lab blown up and Julie seeking comfort in the arms of Strack, Peyton (thought dead) is brought to a hospital and operated on as a John Doe. His radical new surgical treatment gives him superhuman strength and uncontrollable rage when provoked. He escapes and dons a Phantom of the Opera-like cape and hat and, with his face covered in bloodied bandages, goes after Durant and his minions.

But first Peyton reconstructs his lab so he can remake those 99-minute synthetic skin thingys to resemble the faces of other people. He can now infiltrate Durant’s gang (for a limited time) to pick them off one by one. And while he’s at it, he tries getting back with Julie who cant believe Peyton isn’t dead. But that fake face-mask of himself he’s wearing isn’t gonna last forever! The climatic end when Peyton is being chased through the city is sheer over-the-top craziness.

Written/directed by Sam Raimi, with five other writers, this mass-appealing sci-fi/action/superhero movie made Neeson a star and moved Raimi into the fore-front as a power-director in Hollywood. It made major bank at the box office, puzzling Universal Studios exec’s who didn’t think this movie would make dollar-one. As far as Darkman went, this movie was so popular it spawned two direct-to-video sequels (both pretty bad), a TV series pilot (never sold), and a popular Marvel comic book. Not bad for a movie that was just thrown together out of necessity!

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