Sunday, February 14, 2016


Alas, Deadpool (Tim Miller 2016) isn't as good as some reviews suggest.  This super-hero movie, part of the Marvel franchise, is reasonably well-designed, not overlong, and sufficiently self-aware to mock itself and its genre. But the movie is not that different from others of its type; Deadpool's wise-cracking cynicism and tendency toward self-parody can be found in the Ironman films and harkens back to Sam Raimi's Darkman featuring Liam Neeson before he was Oskar Schindler and that featured a very similar plot.  (Pop cultural assumes a memory of about twenty years -- Darkman was made in 1990, praised for many of the same characteristics as Deadpool, and is now mostly forgotten by the people who attend super-hero movies.)

What's good about Deadpool can be enjoyed in the film's first half-hour -- after that everything becomes obviously, predictable, and just noisy.  The movie begins in media res with the eponymous character riding in a taxi-cab operated by the obligatory comic Indian cabbie -- Aziz Ansari has commented on the fact that racial stereotyping is alive, well, and unapologetic when it comes to people from the subcontinent.  Deadpool is pursuing a bad guy who disfigured him in an attempt to create a monstrous mutant warrior.  Deadpool's talent's are manifold:  he can whirl through the air like a helicopter and wounds that he suffers heal in seconds and minutes; he is, in effect, immortal.  Like others of his species, he is super-strong, agile, and has fantastically acute senses -- he can fire his revolver to kill bad guys, sometimes three to the bullet, while hurtling through the air upside-down.  In the course of the film, he recovers from having his hand cut-off (Deadpool hacks off his own arm to escape handcuffs all the while cracking wise about 127 Hours); he gets impaled, burnt to a crisp, and has a bullet shot up his ass.  This is all in a day's work for him.  In the film's bravura opening, Deadpool drops from the suspension of a bridge onto a crowded highway, kills a mob of bad guys while they are driving at 100 mph over the bridge, and, then, mows down an army of gunmen and villains on motorcycles.  This spectacular action is sometimes frozen, bodies suspended in mid-air so that Deadpool can narrate the events leading up to this melee -- this part of the movie is witty, engaging, and the hero's backstory is charming in a raunchy kind of way.  (Deadpool has a girlfriend that he met in a bar that caters to mercenaries; after some explicit sex scenes, the couple fall in love -- unfortunately, Deadpool has cancer and seeks treatment with the villains who turn him into a monster.)  After the clever beginning, the film settles into a standard super-hero revenge story.  The climax involves several refugees from the X-Man franchise and protracted combat on a destroyer that is apparently being salvaged for scrap iron -- the fight goes on and on and succumbs to the figures-hurled-through-the-air-only-to-demolish-half-the-landscape tedium that is characteristic of the genre.  This big fight is not as impressive as the battle on the bridge with which the movie begins and something of anti-climax.  The final credits of the film have a sly Pink Panther-style animation that is obscene but funny.  Deadpool is okay and compared with many other films of this kind, a couple levels better and more intelligent, but it's ultimately disappointing.

(I attended the movie in Austin in a crowded Valentine's Day theater -- in Austin, a movie theater is packed if it is half-full.  The opening titles involve the camera roaming in three-dimensions through a stop-action image of a car crashing off a bridge a high-speed; bodies are suspended in air in mists of green and blue broken glass.  It's an abstract and clever title sequence with Mad-magazine style credits.  About ninety seconds into the sequence, the screen rumbled and went dark -- we, then, peered into a glowing void for about ten minutes projecting our own fantasies and desires into the abyss suspended in front of us.  Then, the glowing void lapsed back into inert darkness; some of the house-lights gradually brightened.  After another five minutes, lights imperceptibly dimmed and the film began again -- I told my son, Jack, who attended the movie with me that this was the greatest super-hero movie of all, some surreal images of mayhem and, then, just irradiated darkness that our eyes filled with strange eidetic imagery -- bats and flying men and huge eye sockets peering out of the darkness.)

No comments:

Post a Comment