After years of trying to tear himself off the pages of a comic book, Deadpool has finally sliced and diced his way into theatres and it makes for a fun, if patchy, movie.
Based on the immensely popular Marvel character of the same name, Deadpool sees Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) squeeze into tight red spandex (so you can’t see the blood) to take down Ajax (Ed Skein) the man who gave him incredible healing abilities at the cost of his boyish good looks.
Along for the ride are Deadpool’s main gal Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), his best mate Weasel (T.J. Miller), and the villainous Angel Dust (Gina Carano). Oh and two X-men… Deadpool claims they couldn’t afford a third, seriously.
The film’s greatest strength by far is Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of Deadpool, who banishes the looming spectre of his Green Lantern performance in the first five minutes of the movie when he compares an unpleasant taste to, ‘two hobos fucking in a shoe full of piss’.
It would be doing him a disservice to say he ‘inhabits the role’, instead it’s like he literally volunteered for the Weapon X program to become Deadpool.
He brings such an incredible energy to his performance and you can tell while watching him dance and quip his way through scenes of utter carnage that he’s having a ball, and he definitely side steps the potential for snide smugness that a character like Deadpool could easily fall victim to.
Even out of the blood spattered spandex Reynolds impresses, having a weirdly convincing yet grimy romance with his girlfriend Vanessa that never feels particularly forced beyond their initial encounter.
He shines brightest, however, when he’s allowed to interact with the more ‘straight’ characters, bouncing off their clichéd super hero dialogue with such gusto that you forget at times that Deadpool’s a pretty horrific anti-hero, who’s more than willing to stab, shoot, poison, torture … well if we listed all the crimes Deadpool’s willing to commit we’d be here forever.
Unfortunately for the film, like so many superheroes its greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. To speak plainly, I’m a huge Deadpool fan and I’m totally on board with dark adolescent jokes. But even at times I couldn’t help but think: ‘Will you please shut the fuck up?’ Honestly, Deadpool never stops talking and the sheer volume of fart, masturbatory and sometimes groan inducing dark gags means that after a while they wear thin.
In fact the jokes that worked best for me weren’t the never ending cavalcade of unicorn wanking jokes (seriously), instead it was the more subtle sight gags. The opening credits and slow-motion car crash is easily one of the funniest things I’ve seen in the cinema this, admittedly still early, year.
There are other issues as well. The film was made on a relatively small budget, especially for a superhero film, and it becomes obvious about halfway through the movie when you realise they’re still on that highway from the trailer.
Now, to the film’s credit, it never feels cheap or phoned in, but there’s an undeniable lack of polish that modern audiences have come to expect from superhero films.
Personally I felt that made sense. Deadpool’s not a polished character, even compared to the relatively ‘rough and tumble’ Wolverine – we can’t see Hugh Jackman’s character ever admitting to wearing ‘squeaky masturbating shoes’. But it’s definitely noticeable and gives the film a level of ‘grunginess’ that may turn off a lot of people.
Really this film is a love letter to the character’s fans, and those familiar with Deadpool will love the film in all it’s hyperactive, gory bombast. Those less familiar with the character, but who are willing to take the film for what it is, flaws included, will also find a lot to love in Deadpool, but I can imagine those used to a more sophisticated superhero film may be slightly let down.