Monday, February 15, 2016

Movie Review: Deadpool

So with a rare chance to get out to the cinema - on Valentines Day, no less - then going to see a "grown up" movie was one the cards. Given it's Oscar season, there was quite few on offer, but Z wanted to see Deadpool, and thats a grown up romantic movie for a night out, right? Right? Aside from good early reviews and promising trailer, I can't say that I have been itching to see it based on the property alone; Deadpool isn't a character that has ever grabbed me, and I think I've mentally filed him away other hyper-violent 90s creations whose fans are always a little bit too enthusiastic about the "blood and swearing" element of the character. Which I admit is narrow-minded of me, and I guess it's a credit to the marketting around the movie that it got me past that hurdle in the first place. Z, to her credit, just watched the trailers and though "Yes, I want to see that." And I'm glad we did. 

Given that screen superheroes are a different beast to their comics-based equivalents - something comics fans often forget, I think - you need earn a film like Deadpool. What works in the film works in part because it is both of, and commenting on, the tropes and action beats of the wave of superhero movies we are currently living through, and for that to connect to an audience, that audience that needs to know them in the first place. There are definately references to both the characters history and the wider comics he comes from, but most of the quickfire torrent of gags are broad enough, and familiar enough, to play with the uninitiated. This, like a lot of the film, is harder to get right than it looks, and for the most part, they get it dead right. 

The first thing they get dead right is the opening credits and grandstanding fight sequence - a set piece so good the film never quite manages to top it. Almost everything the rest of Deadpool will go on to do it right there in that first section, breaking the fourth wall, poking fun at everything including itself, and earning a lot of laughs from it's "violence as a punchline", bugs-bunny-plus-blood aesthetic. Its sharp and funny and sets you up to settle in and enjoy the film as it slows down and tries - surprisingly - to be something else as well. 

So if I was expecting a bunch of exploded heads, and jokes about peoples private parts, I wasn't expecting Deadpool to be a love story. And a pretty sweet one at that. After the initial mayhem, we get a series of flashbacks that act as the dreaded origin story for the character, and yes, that hits a lot of the thematic beats you'd expect. But more rarely, the characters central need is built around his relationship with kindred spirit Vanessa, demonstrated by some great quick-fire banter and what must be the funniest sex scene I've seen on screen for a long time. The relationship grounds Deadpool with an emotional core, that strangely enough has been missing from a lot of more conventional big-screen outings with a lot less twisted humour and ultra-violence. 

And yes, its really funny. I laughed pretty solidly all the way through the film. It's use of less familiar X-men characters (especially Colossus in a pretty damn funny straight man/hall monitor role) means that whilst it is clearly in Fox's X-verse it never felt constrained by the needs of a wider story, or waste time setting up a sequel. Sneakily setting the finale on what is clearly a wrecked Helicarrier was a nice touch too. Some of the bones of the film are very familiar in places, but it's subversive heart and twisted skin are coupled with some sparkling performances to make this really worth the time to go watch.