Friday, February 12, 2016

Movie Review: Deadpool

Deathstroke the Litigator

I don't want to spoil this for you, but it's difficult not to talk about a pivotal, groundbreaking moment that forever transformed the genre, and perhaps film in general. Something so brilliant, you'll understand immediately what they were going for, while being shocked no one else thought of it first.

But enough about the opening credits.

Forget the violence, nudity, and foul language - this was one of the most unironic celebrations of comic heroes ever put on film. It's extremely funny, but this is about far from parody as you can get. Put simply, this exists to build up, not tear down, the superhero genre.

It's difficult to overstate this movie's merits. It juggles genres with astonishing skill, mixing its lead's trademark morally ambiguous comedy with topnotch action and - I honestly can't believe I'm typing this - a surprisingly well-executed love story.

But none of that is my favorite thing about Deadpool. What I really loved about this film is that, in the midst of everything else, the filmmakers used this as an opportunity to fix Fox's X-Men franchise. While I've generally liked these movies (with the obvious exceptions of The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine), Fox has always downplayed the superhero elements, opting instead for science fiction.

Forget all that. The X-Men, in this movie, absolutely are superheroes, in every sense of the word. And - at least if Colossus is any indication - they know it. Stefan Kapicic's Colossus uses the term unapologetically and treats the profession as something of a calling, and he does so with a Russian accent.

I know. FINALLY.

This actually may be the sparsest collection of mutants we've ever seen in the franchise (by my count, only five appeared for more than a few seconds of screen time), but the setting has never felt more open. The movie gives the impression that mutants are no longer uncommon, and that the world is full of heroes battling supervillains, corrupt organizations, and military forces.

This movie, however, only gives us a taste of that. Mostly, it's concerned with Deadpool's backstory, as well as his quest for love, revenge, and a cure to fix his appearance.

I think most of us recoiled at the idea we'd be getting an origin story for Deadpool, and with good reason: the template's been worn pretty thin by this point, and Wade Wilson's origin is generally considered the least interesting aspect of his character. But, astonishingly, they managed to deliver something that felt right, that humanized him without losing the core of the concept, and stayed interesting.

It helps that they cast Morena Baccarin as his love interest. Aided by a solid script, she built a character who felt believable as a romantic partner for Wilson.

It also helps that the movie doesn't unfold linearly. By jumping around in time, they managed to avoid the pitfall where the audience spends the first half of the movie waiting to see what they paid for.

I actually do have one complaint, and that's with the resolution. The last few minutes were a little too studio and not enough Deadpool for my tastes - you'll see what I mean. It's a small blemish on an otherwise fantastic superhero movie, though.

I'm extremely interested in seeing where they take the X-Men after this. Honestly, I'm far more interested in Deadpool 2 than I am in Age of Apocalypse. I'd much rather they build the future of the franchise on this than the dark, serious summer releases. I liked Days of Future Past well enough, but it just got elbowed out of the top three X-Men movies.

Assuming nothing gets pushed back, we're getting six superhero movies featuring Marvel and DC characters this year. Somewhat unexpectedly, this set an awfully high bar for the other five. If Deadpool is the best superhero movie of 2016, it won't necessary be a bad year for the genre.

No comments: