Review: "Deadpool" promises too much but delivers enough to entertain
The last superhero movie I saw in theaters was “Man Of Steel.” It was 3 years ago and it was very, very bad. Since then movies have come — like “Ant-Man” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” — that I was sincerely interested in, but I just couldn’t take that step to get to the theater. Maybe I was scared I would be stuck in another “Man Of Steel”; maybe I was just exhausted, or bored, or all of the above. “Deadpool” honestly wasn’t much different. I thought it had a chance to be good, but if a friend hadn’t invited me to go with him, I probably never would have seen it. I’m glad I saw it, but it is also unlikely to change how I feel about the genre, which the people behind this film clearly thought it had a chance to do.
With all of the fourth-wall breaking, hero-spoofing, meta-quirkyness, it is clear that the filmmakers think they are real smart and are using those smarts to subvert the genre. Their confidence is helpful, and they’re right on both counts; but neither to the degree that they needed to be.
One of the biggest reasons “Deadpool” works is because of how bleached and cookie-cutter the rest of the marvel universe has become. While every individual franchise is highly competent — save "Thor," which I find dreadful — none of the movies sing, or even try to. Each movie is anonymously written and directed and slowly pump through the same formula.
“Deadpool” sticks out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. There’s style, flash, sarcasm, vulgarity, and even a little bit of voice. These things make the film feel original; refreshing even, at best. But when standing next to “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World,” any movie that wanted to could feel original. “Deadpool” succeeds on its own merits, but it also falls on its face regularly.
Deadpool is a character quite literally written for Ryan Reynolds, and the movie appropriately bring out all of his strengths. Reynolds is allowed to be sarcastic and villainously charming. Unfortunately, there’s a reason Reynolds has been a box office disaster his entire career. While America has supported Reynolds’ passion project to the tune of 135 million dollars, his performance still veers into irritating more often than it should. Too many decent jokes fall flat due to Reynolds’ odd C-level-Jim-Carrey deliveries.
The film needs to be funnier overall. They have one of the funniest people available in T.J. Miller, but his turn as Weasel is restrained and he walks away with barely a memorable scene. The movie’s action is entertaining enough and well-choreographed, if a little generic. But the film’s biggest opportunity to be dynamic is through Deadpool’s comedic perspective, and it comes up short too often.
The movie’s biggest flaw is its failure to offer anything new in the department of story. For all the winking and mocking of its colleagues, “Deadpool” follows an arc that’s no less cliche than any Marvel movie that came before. While the “hero” isn’t tasked with saving the world, his love-inspired mission to save his girl is no more original or captivating. If the filmmakers wanted to be as radical as their protagonist was telling us they were, they should have irked structure all together. Some of the best superhero stories in other mediums have been more casual, freeform character pieces. A movie about an average day in the life of Deadpool probably would have been more compelling than this. Maybe that’s the film Tim Miller wanted to make, and the studio got in the way. That wouldn’t surprise me. But all I can do is review the film in front of me, and it’s one that could be improved.
“Deadpool” garners an unusual amount of criticism for a film that I genuinely enjoyed, and that’s due to its lofty ambitions. Whenever a film opens with a sequence as self-referential as the slow-motion opening shot of “Deadpool,” my interests are peaked, but my expectations are raised as well. While this film is a concise, enjoyable piece of entertainment, it falls short of what it could have been as well as what I wanted it to be.