Saturday, February 20, 2016
I do not own the above image. Copyright 20th Century Fox & Marvel. All Rights Reserved.
I think we can all agree: superhero movies are en vogue right now and are only becoming more dominant. The only proof you need is the dominance of DEADPOOL at the box office the past week, only taking eight days to make $200 million. But as comic book movies become more & more of the norm, I wonder what the public (and based on the Rotten Tomatoes score, professional critics) sees in some of these movies, especially DEADPOOL.
First off, I have to admit: the highway fight scene is phenomenal. A wonderful mocking of large, public fight scenes. When you fight a villain’s minions, they die & die brutally. DEADPOOL isn’t afraid to show that. And what’s all this about the hero having almost unlimited ammunition & never missing? Well, DEADPOOL thinks that’s ridiculous as well, lampooning that trope in a wonderful slow-motion fight sequence, even if it does hit the nail on the head once too often when showing the audience just how many bullets are left multiple times. There’s even an element of “reverse monologuing” after the antagonist is caught.
That sequence, which takes up about 25 of the first 40 minutes of the movie, should have been a harbinger of things to come. Then DEADPOOL jumps of the highs of the highway & into the trash. No, I don’t mean that as a metaphor. At the end of that sequence, Deadpool literally jumps off the overpass & into a passing garbage truck. It’s as if first-time director feature director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (GI JOE: RETALIATION and ZOMBIELAND) were telling us in advance that the rest of the movie was worthless & deserves to rot next to banana peels for the rest of time.
And here is the root of my problem with DEADPOOL: deep down, it is just another superhero movie. It hits every single superhero origin story beat that exists without ever poking fun at them. Wade Wilson has a love interest who appears to be some sort of hooker with a taste for not-so good people like Wilson. What else do we learn about her? Just that after Wilson becomes Deadpool & never sees her again, she gets really depressed. Not one joke about how one-dimensional main female in a superhero movie is. In fact, the bulk of DEADPOOL’s humor comes from Ryan Reynolds one-liners that are more vulgar & gross than witty & biting about comic book movies as they should be. The viewer’s enjoyment depends solely on how much of Deadpool’s shtick can you handle. My patience ran out quite early.
But Deadpool’s not the only one who cuts jokes. Wade’s BFF Weasel is your standard comic relief sidekick whose every line is some sort of observational joke that landed with the audience almost every time but not me. Why not? Because the hilarious buddy trope here is played dead straight. No jokes about how Weasel just has to be funny all the time. Why not have Weasel be a poor jokester with long punchlines & horrible timing?
But the worst element of DEADPOOL in a landslide is Ed Skrein as Ajax, or as Deadpool repeats over & over again as if it’s the most hilarious name for a man in the universe, Francis. Ajax is written straighter & blander than a steel beam on the overpass in the opening fight scene. The movie is so focused on showing Deadpool as this hilarious asshole that the villain is completely forgotten until the writers realized that they needed to actually end the movie somehow. And even if Ajax were written like Syndrome from THE INCREDIBLES, Skrein has the charisma of a paper plate. I don’t think his facial expression changed once voluntarily.
As for the other main actors, Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool & if you can stand him, you will enjoy him here. Morena Baccarin tries her best to make Vanessa a real person but is written so poorly, Jessica Chastain would have failed in the role.
So much of DEADPOOL drove me nuts. The little asides involving the Indian cab driver were uninspiring. Deadpool’s blind, sassy black woman roommate got old real quick. The movie teases nudity so much that I wondered why this movie wanted an ‘R’ rating if it wasn’t going to use it to its full potential and just show it to the manchildren in the audience. And when it finally came around, the third act lacked tension, awe or originality so much so that mingling in the halls felt like a better option.
DEADPOOL is a lot like your Congressman. He/she shows up on the scene with the appearance that he/she will change everything. But after you vote for him, he goes & acts just like everyone else in political office. DEADPOOL thinks it’s much smarter than it actually is thanks to receiving that ‘R’ rating label from the MPAA. Once you get behind that façade, DEADPOOL is nothing more than a generic comic book movie with a basic telling of an origin story, a cardboard damsel-in-distress & an impossibly bland villain. With the promise of being something big & groundbreaking after that opening battle sequence, DEADPOOL becomes a brainless shell of the flavor of the month.