Sunday, 19 June 2016

"Deadpool" in (belated) review - will Hollywood learn the right lesson?

What's it about?
The saucy-tongued, fourth-wall-breaking, pain-in-the-arse to the goody two shoes of the Marvel universe - finally - comes to the screen in a faithful adaptation. Wade Wilson is a goon for hire - the 'Merc with the Mouth' - but his world all goes a bit wobbly once he finds love, only to have his bright future torn away by a terminal cancer diagnosis. Undergoing procedures to bring forth mutant DNA in his blood in order to cure his cancer, he's gifted extraordinary healing powers but becomes horribly scarred in the process. Now he's sworn revenge against his maker.
Who would I recognise in it?
Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano.
There's little to say about the quality of the film that hasn't already been said. Deadpool is a big slab of blood-spewing, bullet-spraying, sword-slicing, tongue-lashing awesomeness. Sure, the revenge plot is straight-forward and not what you'd consider remarkable (Ajax, the villain, sufficiently detestable as he is, rarely feels close to out-right besting Deadpool), but it does provide the structure on which to hang the real draw here - Ryan Reynolds as the snarky, goofy, and ever-so-violent Deadpool. Considering it was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who were behind Zombieland, you can hazard a guess at what delights are in store.

The film's key strengths, riding roughshod over its few weaknesses, are its sense of fun and franchise anarchy. Deadpool is a razor sharp pin prick into the increasingly bloated and serious-minded superhero movie mindset...

Click "READ MORE" below to continue the review...

Deadpool skewers other franchises, and even his own film, with gleeful abandon. Combined with a much more reasonable 103 minute running time (not including credits or Ferris Bueller-inspired sting), compared to the hefty likes of "Batman v Superman" or "Captain America: Civil War", it feels fresh and full of vigour. Bigger doesn't always mean better, and Deadpool uses its comparatively tight budget to the full extent, and - quite wisely - doesn't get bogged down in world building and an over-populated cast (not that it ever would have been able to afford it, but still). Marvel's tentpole epics are beginning to groan under the weight of huge cast lists, and "Batman v Superman" seems to have struggled to do too many things at once. That said, perhaps BvS' extended cut - much like the three-hour version of Watchmen - will work better with more room for all the disparate elements to breathe? The exception to prove the rule, you might say.

Now - what with all the talk of Deadpool being a hugely successful R-rated film - what can Hollywood learn from this? Hopefully it won't take to sneaking a look between Iron Man's sheets, or making Batman turn the air of Gotham blue, or splattering crimson all over Professor X. What Hollywood desperately needs to learn is simple - be respectful to the material - if it requires an R-rating (which Deadpool most certainly did), then be true to that. The audience don't want watered down content. Die Hard is a hard-R, but the fourth entry, as entertaining as it is, is just censored, and completely out-of-step with the three films that came before. The same thing happened with The Expendables 3, which unwisely opted to soften the blows in order to chase the PG-13 dollar - that move shoved aside the core (adult) audience and compromised the material. Fix it in post for Blu-Ray? A little bit of half-assed CGI blood and off-screen effin' and jeffin' doesn't cut it. Of course, if America's MPAA had a rating system akin to Britain's BBFC, then perhaps we wouldn't be needing to have this conversation.

We don't need R-rated X-Men movies because the franchise doesn't require it, but the prospect of an R-rated third solo outing for Wolverine feels much more fitting. It's not just about swearing, flashed skin, and blood-letting though - it's about quality of content. Switching back to Die Hard, the fifth outing brought back the R-rating, but utterly failed due to an atrocious script and a painfully bored Bruce Willis moping around the screen. What Deadpool has done - much like "Kingsman: The Secret Service" before it, as well as "Dredd" and "Kick-Ass" before that - is combine a solid script with talented filmmakers and a buoyant sense of fun.

News of Deadpool 2 is most welcome - fingers crossed they recapture the same energy and evade 'difficult second album' pitfalls. In these times of spandex-clogged cinema screens, capes and shields everywhere you look, Deadpool is the anti-superhero superhero movie the audience needed - and wanted. Great.

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