Raucous and raunchy, comic book adaptation Deadpool is at its best when it is crude, lewd and rude — which is most of the time.
The opening sequence presents mock main titles over an action scene that’s been slowed down to a crawl. It’s an excellent way to introduce the movie, declaring its intentions plainly and allowing anyone who’s expecting another type of entertainment to exit quickly.
From his first appearance in a 1990 Marvel comic book, created by Rob Liefeld and developed by Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool has been through a number of changes, evolving from villain to antihero while retaining a tendency to wisecrack with a very dark sense of humor, often breaking the fourth wall by talking directly to readers and commenting on the proceedings.
As written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the team responsible for Zombieland), directed by visual effects artist Tim Miller in his feature debut, and embodied by Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool on the big screen feels very much at home when it mercilessly pokes fun at itself and other superhero movies. The action sequences are edited in the passe style of frantic movement and jagged angles, yet becomes more tolerable because of the lead character’s tendency to pause and comment on what’s happening, pointing out the ridiculous nature of what’s happening.
The movie struggles, however, whenever it rewinds to the painful “origin story,” which by now has become far too familiar to anyone who has sat through more than two superhero screen adventures. In this case, it also undercuts the effectiveness of the satire. The overweening desire to make a hero out of Deadpool does not serve the character well.
During the “origin story” flashback sequences, I kept waiting for Wade Wilson, the character’s given name, to comment on how dreary and self-righteous the flashback sequences were playing out, and how they were following the expected path to justify the excesses carried on in the present day. Instead, they are played straight, which is quite disappointing.
Even so, Deadpool has much to recommend it for certain viewers, especially those who are in tune with its dark and twisted sense of humor. Reynolds’ strengths as an actor are well-matched for the jocular material, and he and Morena Baccarin (as Vanessa, the love of his life) trade sarcastic barbs in an amusing manner. T.J. Miller is his usual witty self as Wade’s male best friend Weasel, a bartender. Ed Skrein (aka The Transporter) is effectively stoic and nasty as the villainous Ajax, with Gina Carano cutting a good figure as his sidekick Angel.
It’s rather surprising to see Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, a woman who becomes Deadpool’s roommate; it’s certainly an earthy performance. On Deadpool’s side, Colossus (a CGI figure, voiced by Stefan Kapicic), a stoic and righteous member of the X-Men, is amusing, as is teenage X-Men trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).
All in all, Deadpool achieves most of its evident goals, skewering the superhero genre while remaining firmly within its magnetic reach.
The movie opens widely in theaters throughout Dallas on Friday, February 12.