I’m frequently accused of being a contrarian when it comes to crowd-pleasing blockbuster movies, but let me start this review by saying that I really, really, really wanted to like this movie. “Deadpool” is the perfect example of why box office receipts don’t always accurately reflect quality. Just because everyone you know has seen it and is talking about it, and just because it’s made millions of dollars doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. It’s juvenile, gimmicky and not much more than a barrage of lame pop culture references. Is that the point of the movie? Maybe. But “Deadpool” is one big yawn.
I love the concept of an R-rated made-for-grownups superhero movie, and I welcome more in the future. But “Deadpool” is a fairly mild R; a rating that feels more like an obnoxious attempt to bully the audience into thinking that it’s a much more clever movie than it actually is. It’s full of cussing and violence and nudity “just because.”
I can already hear the backlash I’m going to get from the online dork community: “well, you would’ve loved the movie if you knew the character and the comics.” I find this a seriously flawed argument. A good movie should have me engaged and make me care about the character even if I have zero background knowledge of the source material. Never have I picked up one comic book but I was instantly head over heels for Magneto, Wolverine, Tony Stark and Captain America (among others) in far better movie franchises. There’s no doubt in my mind that the folks who made this movie have serious love for “the merc with the mouth,” but a good movie would’ve made me fall in love with the main characters too, warts and all. In-jokes and references are fun for hard-core fans, I get that. But when a movie is mostly comprised of those little winking Easter eggs, it leaves nothing for your casual audience to enjoy. That in itself is something I see as a huge filmmaking failure.
I can also hear the cries of “you just didn’t ‘get’ the movie!” Believe me, I “got” the movie, I “got” the sarcastic anti-hero, I “got” the jokes — they just weren’t funny. I didn’t find the repeated comic references nor constant scenes of Deadpool breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience nearly as satisfying or as clever as the filmmakers obviously did. In my mind I can see Ryan Reynolds‘ and director Tim Miller‘s smirking faces, both of them kicking back with a smug sense of self-satisfaction.
The tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic opening credits showed a ton of promise, but it turned out that sequence was not only the first but also the last thing I liked about this predominantly laugh-free movie. Like its titular character, “Deadpool” is snarky, obnoxious and just a pain in the ass.
I liked the idea of “Deadpool” more than I liked the actual movie. I mean, the movie was okay, but I was hoping I would love it.
What a compelling narrative in the film world: Ryan Reynolds, after playing a mute version of the character (which has been widely criticized, and rightly so), lobbies Fox (the owner of rights to the “X-Men” franchise) to make a version of “Deadpool” that isn’t completely watered-down and spineless with a PG–13 rating. Finally Fox relents and gives the production company $55 million to make the movie, the way Reynolds thinks it should be made. Fast forward to 2016, when the movie breaks all kinds of records (biggest February opening of all time; fifth-biggest superhero movie of all time; biggest R-rated opening of all time; the list goes on).
Wow, what a narrative! Maybe it will result in studios taking more chances! Maybe we will stop getting watered-down PG-13 travesties! Maybe studios will now be encouraged to trust filmmakers and producers to make their passion projects without too much interference! I still hold out hope that these things will happen, but I’m cynical and think that will probably not be the case.
With a pedigree like this, I wanted so much to LOVE the movie. There are a lot of things to like about it. The Honest Trailers-version of the opening credits were incredible and almost worth the price of admission, all by itself. I liked that this “Deadpool” didn’t hold back on the quips. While I’m not a comic-book guy, I understand that Deadpool is known as the “merc with the mouth,” and he certainly lived up to that reputation. I liked the character, and I liked Reynolds’ version of it. Plus, I love Ryan Reynolds (and have since “Van Wilder” — if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it right now!) and this movie let Ryan Reynolds be “Ryan Reynolds.”
What I didn’t like was that it sort of fell into the typical super-hero tropes. As the credits promised, there was a crappy-looking CGI character. There was a obligatory Stan Lee cameo (which by itself isn’t a bad thing, but it always leads to the inevitable mass breaking of one of the Moviegoer’s 10 Commandments). There were fast-cutting action sequences. There was a final battle staged on a giant CGI whatsit that just looked dumb. In other words, for all of the things that the movie did well in trying to break “the rules” of big studio superhero movie, in many respects it followed them, too. And it suffered for it.
Okay, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this character, and yes, I hope all of the aforementioned good things that COULD come out of it, will (but the cynical me says they won’t), but I am disappointed to not be able to put this movie in the four-star category. Standing on its own, it would be strictly a three-star, but it gets an extra half-star for Reynolds’ passion and how it got made (please oh please let this mean that studios will be less risk-averse in the future).