Skip to main content

A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That's like, sixteen walls.

Deadpool
(2016)

Yeah, Deadpool’s okay. Probably fantastic if you’re caught ‘midst the throes of adolescence. Which is pretty much what I expected; a relentless stream of masturbation and penetration gags does not a movie – let alone a great movie – make. The occasional spurt would have been more than sufficient.


Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick were clearly aware of this problem, such that they disciplined themselves and diligently incorporated a bona fide plot. But Deadpool/Wade Wilson’s fixation on recovering his looks so he can, in turn, recover his lost love is tepid at best. And yet. Deadpool delivers sufficient genuinely funny gags (most of the good ones are very meta-) and just about enough investment in the proceedings to keep its gnarly head above water.


I can only be faintly positive about the picture though, since it’s so clearly aimed at a completely different age group to my increasingly antiquated one. It has that much in common with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Which isn’t to say it’s rubbish, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they do both occupy a relentlessly hyper, juvenile, sugar-rush self-regard that far exceeds their actual effectiveness. Mostly, Deadpool doesn’t even pretend it isn’t engaging in playground antics of one-upmanship and outgrossing itself. This is especially so when Wade and Weasel (TJ Miller, not to be confused with director Tim Miller) exchange unpleasantries on how unattractive the former’s new visage is. And they still missed the most obvious one, that he looks a bit like a latter-day Nick Nolte.


Reynolds obviously is Deadpool, laying to rest a largely justified reputation as box office poison. If I were studio execs, though, I wouldn’t rush out and offer him every high profile part under the sun just yet; his newfound bankability may yet prove about as enduring as Daniel Craig’s star status in non-Bond roles. That said, this is a character(s) one could easily imagine Jim Carrey essaying in decades past, and Reynolds gamely delivers a slew of self-mocking quips, from referencing the disastrous Green Lantern, to his roundly reviled X-Men Origins Deadpool incarnation via a “Deadpool sewn-up mouth” action figure, to citing Ryan Reynolds getting by on minimal acting talent thanks to his pretty face.


Winning too are the biting-the-hand-that-feeds-it swipes at the Fox Marvel-verse, be it confusing James McAvoy with Patrick Stewart, repeated jabs at Hugh Jackman’s all-consuming presence, or barbs concerning Deadpool’s cheapness (The X-Men mansion, occupied as it is by only two mutants). However, this kind of thing could have gone further.


In the opening, extended car chase, Deadpool leaps from a bridge, but we don’t see him land on/in the villains’ car; instead, we cut to the merc with the mouth in transit. Missing is the money shot, one that would have been essential to a Bryan Singer main event X-sequel, and the failure to take the piss out of such limitations suggests Miller et al aren’t quite as no-holds-barred as they’d like us to believe. They may even be a little sensitive. While much of the action is decently-choreographed, it isn’t especially inspired; as with the pervasive nob gags, it’s all about getting to that severed head or pixelated bullet hole in a stray limb (Miller’s background is an effects artist). The sort of thing we’ve seen many times before, and just as overly CGI-assisted. Only not in a Marvel movie. Actually, maybe in the name-checked Blade.


Ironically, the most consistently engrossing part of the picture is largely dramatic; the flashbacks detailing Wade undergoing the mutant gene-prodding process. Of course, the least engrossing part (Wade’s relationship with Monica Baccarin’s Vanessa) is also largely dramatic. There’s no recourse to asides during these sequences, so rather than undercutting how formulaic they are, they again emphasise that the much vaunted anarchy (break that fourth wall, Ryan!) only goes so far.


Likewise, the villains (Transporter Unloaded star Ed Skrein and mixed martial artist and one-time Soderbergh muse Gina Carano, who here extends her range with some intense prop acting courtesy of much-chewed matches) are as generic as they come. Despite sporting an authentically comics-liveried X-Men costume, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) makes little impression (you can only get away with so many Sinead O’Connor gags) but I liked Stefan Kapičić’s genteel and courteous Colossus (he even pauses mid-fight, inviting Carano’s Angel Dust to cover up her wardrobe slippage). The actual CGI for Colossus leaves something to be desired, but Kapičić’s performance more than compensates.


The ideal length for a picture of this ilk is about 90 minutes; short, snappy, leaving you wanting more. Instead, Deadpool manages to over-indulge, despite is modest trappings. That’s likely because it’s a martyr to excess, enamoured of its playground freehand to offend at the expense of any form of restraint. For all it’s revelry in distinguishing itself from its peers, I found the picture stopping yet again for more repetitively sourced Deadpool banter more wearying than when it heads into traditional set piece climax territory. You can see both coming a mile off, but straining so hard to be edgy quickly loses its lustre.


One area where the movie’s success appears to be unqualified, though: spelling the death knell for Bryan Singer’s over-reaching and under-nourished grip on the X-Men franchise. With it, Fox’s self-prescribed fairy tales detailing the ingredients for a hit comic book movie have instantaneously crumbled to dust. We’re now promised an R-rated Wolverine 3, which is rather missing the point that Deadpool has been a hit because it’s doing something different, but the pertinent takeaway may filter through eventually. Fox greenlit the movie only after the Internet went apeshit for a leaked test reel, which had been sitting on a shelf for two years. Usually I’d mock such online adulation as hyperbole, but Deadpool’s staggering success speaks for itself. So, like pretty much everyone else, I was dramatically wrong in my estimation of the appetite for the movie. Although, not so much in terms of its quality. But yeah, Deadpool’s okay.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Who’s got the Figgy Port?

Loki (2021) (SPOILERS) Can something be of redeemable value and shot through with woke (the answer is: Mad Max: Fury Road )? The two attributes certainly sound essentially irreconcilable, and Loki ’s tendencies – obviously, with new improved super-progressive Kevin Feige touting Disney’s uber-agenda – undeniably get in the way of what might have been a top-tier MCU entry from realising its full potential. But there are nevertheless solid bursts of highly engaging storytelling in the mix here, for all its less cherishable motivations. It also boasts an effortlessly commanding lead performance from Tom Hiddleston; that alone puts Loki head and shoulders above the other limited series thus far.

As in the hokey kids’ show guy?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) (SPOILERS) I don’t think Mr Rogers could have been any creepier had Kevin Spacey played him. It isn’t just the baggage Tom Hanks brings, and whether or not he’s the adrenochrome lord to the stars and/or in Guantanamo and/or dead and/or going to make a perfectly dreadful Colonel Tom Parker and an equally awful Geppetto; it’s that his performance is so constipated and mannered an imitation of Mr Rogers’ genuineness that this “biopic” takes on a fundamentally sinister turn. His every scene with a youngster isn’t so much exuding benevolent empathy as suggestive of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ’s Child Catcher let loose in a TV studio (and again, this bodes well for Geppetto). Extend that to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ’s conceit, that Mr Rogers’ life is one of a sociopathic shrink milking angst from his victims/patients in order to get some kind of satiating high – a bit like a rejuvenating drug, on that score – and you have a deeply unsettli

It’ll be like living in the top drawer of a glass box.

Someone’s Watching Me! (1978) (SPOILERS) The first of a pair of TV movies John Carpenter directed in the 1970s, but Someone’s Watching Me! is more affiliated, in genre terms, to his breakout hit ( Halloween ) and reasonably successful writing job ( The Eyes of Laura Mars ) of the same year than the also-small-screen Elvis . Carpenter wrote a slew of gun-for-hire scripts during this period – some of which went on to see the twilight of day during the 1990s – so directing Someone’s Watching Me! was not a given. It’s well-enough made and has its moments of suspense, but you sorely miss a signature Carpenter theme – it was by Harry Sukman, his penultimate work, the final being Salem’s Lot – and it really does feel very TV movie-ish.

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.

You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012) The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

Somewhere out there is a lady who I think will never be a nun.

The Sound of Music (1965) (SPOILERS) One of the most successful movies ever made – and the most successful musical – The Sound of Music has earned probably quite enough unfiltered adulation over the years to drown out the dissenting voices, those that denounce it as an inveterately saccharine, hollow confection warranting no truck. It’s certainly true that there are impossibly nice and wholesome elements here, from Julie Andrews’ career-dooming stereotype governess to the seven sonorous children more than willing to dress up in old curtains and join her gallivanting troupe. Whether the consequence is something insidious in its infectious spirit is debatable, but I’ll admit that it manages to ensnare me. I don’t think I’d seen the movie in its entirety since I was a kid, and maybe that formativeness is a key brainwashing facet of its appeal, but it retains its essential lustre just the same.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

Damn prairie dog burrow!

Tremors (1990) (SPOILERS) I suspect the reason the horror comedy – or the sci-fi comedy, come to that – doesn’t tend to be the slam-dunk goldmine many assume it must be, is because it takes a certain sensibility to do it right. Everyone isn’t a Joe Dante or Sam Raimi, or a John Landis, John Carpenter, Edgar Wright, Christopher Landon or even a Peter Jackson or Tim Burton, and the genre is littered with financial failures, some of them very good failures (and a good number of them from the names mentioned). Tremors was one, only proving a hit on video (hence six sequels at last count). It also failed to make Ron Underwood a directing legend.