Friday, February 12, 2016

Deadpool Aims For Greatness But Misses The Mark

As recently as five years ago, the idea of a movie with a character like Deadpool at the center would have been seen as impossible. It's not the bad language, as God gave us Quentin Tarantino. The gratuitous violence is not a problem either, as movies like Kick Ass, Wanted and Dredd paved the way, creating a contest of sorts. It's not enough to just be shockingly violent anymore! Now we expect a certain level of inventiveness along with that blood splatter. Just watch Kingsman and you'll see where that contest is taking Hollywood. Shockingly, inventively violent happens to be Deadpool's specific cup of tea, and if those previously mentioned films with comic book themes could exist, it's sort of laughable Deadpool wasn't born right alongside them! So, was the fact that Deadpool is a Marvel Comics character and the suggestion that he exists alongside (at the very least, the FOX stable) the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe enough to keep him off the big screens for so long? Who knows. What ever the reason studio executives would give for shelving a character that makes major bank in merchandising and comic books every year, I think they all agreed the time for a Rated R super hero is NOW...but could they make it work?

Deadpool (the movie) is the story of Wade Wilson; wise crackin', gun wielding ex military assassin for hire with a soft spot for ordinary people in trouble. He meets Vanessa whose "crazy matches his crazy" and the two quickly fall in love, but fate would not let this be a fairy tale ending. Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer and turns to mysterious men who say they can cure him while giving him super human abilities by triggering his latent mutant genes. Lies are told, torture is on the menu and Wade steps away from the fiery aftermath with an impossibly fast healing factor and a face that could bring a baby to tears in half a second. Now a newly christened Deadpool hunts for the man who made him triple fugly for life...and that's pretty much the whole movie. Yes, the bad guy is making super soldier slaves to sell to the highest bidder, but that's really not part of the story past a mention. Yes, the X-Men know about Deadpool and while Colossus takes it upon himself to show up when Deadpool is blowing things up (or needs to blow things up), along with an interesting young mutant called Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who we know nothing about), they are not really a part of the plot either. Point of fact, there is no plot, past "bad man makes Wade ugly and he wants revenge." In a Deadpool comic, this would be enough of a jumping off point for genius level wacky hijinks. This doesn't happen here. This is a FOX Marvel movie.

FOX has obvious problems letting a comic book story be itself. The same disdain for "juvenile" reading material a public surely can not grasp that has plagued many a super hero film before the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is evident in nearly every toy to movie and comic book to movie fiasco we've seen in at least the last 10 years. Things are made needlessly complicated. Elements of a character's background are given great weight, and while this is fodder for all dramatic films, it seem awkwardly misplaced in this context. The whole project winds up shouting a clear message to comic book fans. WE CAN DO THIS BETTER THAN YOU. It seemed Deadpool would surely be the one film, championed by legions of fans and people on the inside who loved and understood the character, that would absolutely nail it on all levels. With a hysterical advertising campaign that celebrated the insanely random comedy of the comics, it seemed a done deal. If only those marketing people had written the film.

Deadpool spends a lot of time jumping back and forth from his tragic back story to the current, flimsy revenge story, breaking up any momentum gained. The film starts out strong with ridiculous opening credits set to a blaring love song against the exploration of a scene of carnage, slowed to nearly stopping, pitting Pool' against the baddies from that "proof of concept" footage we fell in love with. It rolls on with more funny moments, fairly amusing character introductions and a stylish exploration of how to defeat a small army with only 12 bullets. After that, the film falls a bit flat. You'll still find a stray laugh here and there, but most of those jokes and gags have been seen in trailers and clips. It all comes down to writing. Being a long time fan of the comic book character, I quickly realized the LEGO Movie had out Deadpool'd Deadpool on most levels. They mastered random humor and the unexpected joke. Scenes go from mundane to ridiculous in 2.3 seconds. Deadpool seems content to tell masturbation jokes to excess, make fun of the film's star Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman (to excess) and even reference what I can only imagine was Ikea Furniture for the sake of laughs. I say I can only imagine, as this scene was like suddenly discovering the film you are watching has slipped into a foreign language mode. My theater was deathly silent as people struggled to figure out if their ears were malfunctioning. There are few surprises to be found here, in comedy and story. Those waiting for a shockingly hysterical, completely random moment or two will be found wanting. The movie is like a couple of enthusiastic twenty somethings who show up at New York Comic Con in their best store bought Spider-Man and Thor costumes. They love being there..that much is clear. They love the characters...this is also evident. They will happily be heard shouting to friends "WE ARE COSPLAYING!!", and at that point, you aren't sure if they are making fun of cosplayers or they genuinely wanted to join in on the fun they saw online and truly thought this is how it is done. 

With a paper thin plot, underwhelming bad guys with no personality given nothing to do to make us feel any which way about them, a damsel in distress who is little more than that, a very recognizable X-Men character CGI rendered to resemble a mid-90's bendie figure with a voice straight out of a Bullwinkle Moose cartoon and a wold reflecting FOX's minuscule corner of the Marvel Universe at 1% magnification, I'm left wondering why FOX, given tons of encouragement from a super hero loving public, didn't feel an urgency to "pull the trigger" as is were. Maybe it came down to money? One look at Colossus will tell you it was a major factor. Still, we've seen people do less with more, and have absolutely seen far funnier movies where the expense wasn't in blowing things up. Is it a successful comedy? If you expectations are low, then yes, but there are a lot of breaks in between the laughs. Is it a breakneck speed action movie? Absolutely not. This film feels edited into the ground and chopped up to the point where any time we get a good run going, it stops itself to make a lame joke. What we are left with is an amazing looking costume and the hopes that with a sequel inevitable, FOX will pay for writers with a better grasp of the sublime ridiculousness that is the comic Deadpool we all know and love. 

1 comment :

  1. Very cool! I love this spider man who paints himself. Thanks for this blog post very informative. Keep updating!