Deadpool teams up with a group of superheroes to save a boy named Russell from the time traveling villain, Cable.
I wanted to love this movie. I was far more excited for this than I had been for Avengers: Infinity War. I thought the first Deadpool was hilarious and quippy, over-the-top in all the right ways, and a breath of fresh air when I was used to the safe pg-13 Marvel films. Deadpool, in the first movie, was not a superhero or a supervillain; he just was himself. He wasn’t trying to save the world like every other superhero- he was a selfish, loudmouthed, irreverent killer, and that’s what I liked about him. Deadpool 2 felt like Deadpool-lite to me.
(SOME SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH)
After a horrible accident, Deadpool AKA Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds, The Proposal, Green Lantern) looses the will to live and tries to commit suicide, only to find out that it’s almost impossible to kill himself. Colossus (Voiced by Stefan Kapicic) brings Deadpool back to the X-Men’s School and tries to convince him to join the X-Men, thus giving new purpose to his life. On his first mission out with the X-Men, Deadpool and Co try to stop a boy named Russell AKA Firefist (Julian Dennison, The Hunt for the Wilder People) from killing some of the people at his orphanage. Deadpool is unable to play by the X-Men’s rules and they both end up in the Icebox, a kind of mutant prison. Eventually, Cable (Josh Brolin, Avengers: Infinity War, Sicario), a time traveler from the future, comes to kill Russell for unknown reasons. Deadpool recruits a number of other superheroes (most notably Domino, played by Zazie Beetz of FX’s Atlanta) to try and save the boy.
Things That Worked
There were some scenes and jokes that worked really well in this film. For the most part, I enjoyed the fight scenes- they were easy to follow, pretty fun, and though they relied heavily (far too heavily) on CGI, they were pretty graphic when compared with the other run-of-the-mill Marvel films. The fight scenes are, by no means, graphic compared to great action movies of today like The Raid 2, or even John Wick. This is an R-Rated film, and they let you know within the first couple of minutes that they wont pull many punches as far as beheadings, amputations, blood spatters, etc...
Some of the jokes really worked for me; there were a few scenes that I was laughing pretty hard with the rest of the audience. And there were other scenes that, even though the jokes didn’t land, I found what they were trying to do was clever, and I appreciated the effort. It’s easy to see that people were passionate about this film, and they wanted to make it good, and I always appreciate when I can feel the heart behind a movie.
Josh Brolin did a fine job as Cable, though, towards the end, I thought his character got a little lost in the fray of the fighting, and his motivation for the things he did towards the end was pretty stupid. Julian Dennison had a larger part in this film than I thought he would, and he held his own against some of the larger name actors; he was fantastic in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and I’m glad to see him getting work. The real breakout was Zazie Beetz, who I know primarily from her work on Atlanta. I thought 90% of what she did landed, and she was easily the best part of the movie. There were also a few unexpected cameos that really stole the show.
The plot itself, though it was basic and felt a lot like a skewed Terminator storyline, wasn’t bad. There were a few fun twists and turns, and the pacing moved the film along rather quickly.
Now, here’s where the trouble starts…
Things That Didn't Work
For some reason, in this movie, they felt the need to make Deadpool a family man. In the first movie, if you recall, Deadpool says that his story is essentially a love story- and in my review of that film, I agreed with him. I thought the love story aspect actually worked for Deadpool one; he was still able to be a selfish, full of himself jerk while trying to get back to the love of his life. It matched his character’s personality. However, this story is about Deadpool trying to find his place in the world, and find a new family…
Where in the first Deadpool did we ever establish that Deadpool needed some kind of new family? And why does he feel like he needs a family now? It was my impression that Deadpool was a loner- a) because he likes being a loner, and b) almost out of necessity because he can’t get along with anyone or follow their rules. The whole ‘I found my new family’ storyline feels like it’s straight out of a Disney movie (Oh shoot… that’s right, Disney bought Fox in between the first and the second Deadpool). While the first movie found sentimental moments without trying to force anything, this movie felt like it was trying to jam sentimentality down your throat. It’s as if the producers wanted us to have an “Aww, that’s great that Deadpool finally found where he belongs” moment. No. I don’t want that. Give me the Deadpool that shoots the villain in the face when everyone is telling him not to. Michael and I saw this movie together, and he made a comment that Deadpool felt ‘neutered’ in this film. That’s an excellent way to put it.
Which leads me to my next point, and I suppose this is going into spoiler territory again. If you don’t want third act spoilers skip this paragraph. (SPOILERS START HERE) Eventually, it’s revealed that Cable is trying to kill Russell because Russell kills Cable’s daughter in the future and sends the world into a vague, pseudo-apocalyptic state. Cable wants to just kill the kid, but Deadpool wants to try to save Russell instead. Why? Who knows? Deadpool convinces Cable to let him try to talk Russell out of killing someone, because once Russell kills someone it’s all downhill from there. That logic is completely flawed, especially in a movie where the main character kills a ton of people. Why would Russell killing someone be the end of the world? The people Russell is trying to kill hurt him badly, and sure, killing people is bad (stress the nonchalance when reading that last sentence), but in a film where your main character has no qualms with severing heads and limbs left and right, why is it suddenly horrible if one person gets killed? It doesn’t fit the tone of the film. (SPOILERS END HERE)
Another issue is the ubiquitous use of CGI. There were scenes that supposedly took place inside the X-Men manor (or school or whatever) that were literally filmed in front of a green screen. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to secure locations, but why are you filming hallway dialogue scenes in front of a green screen? You couldn’t find a hallway that looked somewhat similar to the X-Men’s home? The scenes looked cheap and polished with a hokey sheen. The fight scenes, too: there was so much CGI. This movie had a big budget, and I’ve seen more realistic practical effects done on movies with half this budget (again, The Raid 2… you should really see The Raid 2). Just once I’d like to see a fight scene where the blood splashes and bones breaking aren’t clearly CGI… But perhaps that’s wishful thinking at this point.
A lot of the jokes in this film didn’t land. That’s not to say that there weren’t funny moments; there were. But the ‘humor’ in this movie is nonstop, and maybe 30% of the jokes actually landed with the audience when I saw this film. Most of the jokes felt incredibly obvious; a high schooler with a ridiculous wealth of comic book knowledge could’ve written it. It’s too bad, because some of the lines were clever, but for whatever reason- timing, strange delivery- they just didn’t work as well as they should’ve.
Look, at this point, we all know that superhero films are bound to make their money back regardless of what reviewers say. I myself said that I’d go back and watch this movie again if they came out with an unrated cut. This isn’t the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen, and maybe my tepid rating is a result of a poor theatre-going experience coupled with my rather high expectations. All I know is I was expecting more based on the overwhelmingly positive response I’d seen online. I felt lukewarm about this film at best. I’m sure you’ve already made up your mind whether or not you’ll see this film, because superhero films have garnered die-hard fans that will vehemently defend their favorite characters at all costs. That’s fine; maybe this picture will work for you, but it didn’t for me.
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