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Deadpool tries to make a big deal about how this is "a different kind of super hero movie". He backs this up by pointing out how he just turned a bad guy into a bloody kabob, and by dropping F-bombs and explicit sex jokes every other line of dialogue. True it isn't exactly the typical super hero movie, but it wasn't anything that we haven't already seen in the larger field of comic book movies. Adaptations of graphic novels like Watchmen, Kickass, Sin City, and 300 are loaded with plenty of gratuitous, graphic violence, foul language, sex, and even some impressive glowing blue penises. Heck, even within the subset of Marvel superhero movies, there's already the R-rated Blade.

So I thought it was a bit pretentious for Deadpool to make his movie out to be "unique" for its hard-R rating. It isn't. And it certainly isn't that unique in its plot, which is a pretty standard, cliched origin story with love interest female lead, complete with the hero trying to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend from an arrogant villain. Nothing new there. It is a little bit more unique in its sense of humor though. If you didn't already know, Deadpool is pretty infamous for being a fourth-wall-breaking meta character. In his appearances in comic books, he routinely jokes or comments about being in a comic book, and his appearances in video games also usually include references to comic books or to video games.

So this movie is trying to sell itself on its wit, and it both succeeds brilliantly, and fails miserably. The opening credit sequence and other digs at the studio system (including a dig at the studio being too cheap to afford any other X-Men cameos) and the larger X-Men film universe work very well. Other pop culture references fall a bit flat and will only serve to date the movie in the future. I was also very disappointed that Deadpool didn't comment on the absurdly cliche plot twist of the villain kidnapping the hero's girlfriend. That's like a violation of cardinal rule #1 for movie supervillians: don't kidnap the hero's girlfriend. Unless her name is Gwen Stacy, then I guess you've got a case for the kidnapping.

Ryan Reynolds pulls the character off with pitch perfect execution, and his performance isn't hurt at all by the occasional poor joke. He inhabits the role with the same dedication as Robert Downy Jr. in Iron Man, and Reynolds and Deadpool will likely be inseparable from each other for the future.

Deadpool - romance
Despite the cliche plot, Morena Baccarin's character is surprisingly relevant to the protagonist's development.

The villain is pretty lame though, with paper-thin motivation that really does prevent the cliche plot from really transcending the banality of the genre. And really, that's probably the greatest weakness of the movie. Despite taking [what the studio apparently perceives as] risks with the R-rating and over-the-top violence and sex, the actual plot is so "safe" and cheesy. It probably would have worked a bit better for me if it had stuck to being a revenge movie, but once it became apparent that the bad guy was going to kidnap the girlfriend, I kind of sighed and sunk back into my chair, "Oh, another one of these." It also would have been nice if some of the origin flashback stuff had been scaled back or condensed. Plenty of that material could have been moved to exposition without resorting to the frequent flashbacks.

At least the romance is much more integral to the movie's plot than in other super hero movies in which the love interest feels tacked on and just there. Morena Baccarin's character provides the primary motivation for Deadpool's origin, and his desire to catch the bad guy in order to get a cure for his condition is based in his desire to get back together with her. So she's way more important to the overall movie than, say, Mary Jane was in Spider-Man, or Louis Lane in Man of Steel. So kudos for having a female lead who actually feels like a character rather than just a trophy for the hero to win. In many ways, this movie also feels like a rom-com in the guise of a super hero movie, since the romance is the primary narrative thread of the film.

I am a bit confused by Deadpool's origin though. The villains who convince him to sell himself to their mutant experiment tell him that it's going to heal him. But the experiment itself is to activate whatever latent mutant genes are in the subject's DNA. So they had no way of knowing that his latent superpower would be super-healing. I guess they were just lying to him, and trying to take advantage of his desperation. But it also didn't seem to make sense for them to invest so many resources into creating a supersoldier that was likely to just die on them soon anyway. Whatever.

The movie also manages to be a bit different from other superhero movies in more subtle ways. Even the other characters behave in ways and expose elements of their personalities that you don't normally witness in more mainstream super hero movies. Colossus, for example, is such an uptight prude that he covers his eyes in embarrassment and stops fighting a woman villain because her boob pops out, as if he's a shy knight in shining armor who accidentally walked into the women's restroom. Even the love interest is a prostitute and cocktail waitress, which is a far cry from the type of love interests we see in other super hero movies. She does kind of slip into being a more stereotypical "good girl" though.

Deadpool - gasp
Deadpool's outfit is spot-on, and the mask is surprisingly expressive, allowing the actor to .. act through the mask.

I did really love Deadpool's suit. It was spot on. The mask was also surprisingly expressive, which really did make a big difference, as it gave Ryan Reynolds the opportunity to emote even while wearing the mask, which means that he didn't have to spend half the movie fighting with his mask off so that we can see the highly-paid actor's face like in other super hero movies (Spider-Man!). It also really helped with selling some of the gags, since Deadpool could make funny faces through the mask.

In the end, Deadpool isn't the comic book movie revolution that it was advertised as. It's a competently-made, entertaining movie with a lot of hit-or-miss gags. I liked it. I didn't love it. But I am glad that it was made and that it's successful, because it will hopefully encourage the studios to make some more different movies. 20th Century Fox has been doing fine with its X-Men movies, as those haven't grown stale. But I am really getting sick of Marvel's Infinity Gem McGuffin hunts being in every friggin movie. So movies like Deadpool - and even Ant Man and Winter Soldier - are nice departures. Hopefully we'll see more movies like them, and they'll gradually start to ditch the cliches.

Comments (1) -

10/12/2016 18:29:53 #

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