Year 8, Day 248 - 9/4/16 - Movie #2,443 - viewed on 3/21/16
BEFORE: It may seem like I'm taking Labor Day off, because I wrote most of this posting (and yesterday's) earlier in the year - but I am watching movies this weekend. I'm just watching ones that will help me finish my chain on time in December. I'll explain the reasons for this then...
Flashbacks are what comic-book movies do, so I can do it too, right? As I write this it's March 21, but I'm guessing that my date of posting will be in mid-July, just before San Diego Comic-Con. (Whoops, WRONG again...) This worked out well for me last year, or maybe it was 2 years ago, (Yep, it was 2014, I just checked) when I watched "X-Men: Days of Future Past", "Thor: the Dark World", "Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in different months - because that's when they were released - and posted all the reviews right in a row. More than likely, I'm going to do that again, and I'm counting on cameos from Stan Lee in every film to help me out with the linking.
Comic-book movies are big business, and I love them, and we're living in the Golden Age of them (Golden Age of comic books, not so much...) so right now, as I write this, I've got "Ant-Man" and the new "Fantastic Four" on the watchlist, but I know that "Captain America: Civil War" is coming out soon, as well as "X-Men: Apocalypse" a few weeks after that. Jeez, it's enough to make my head spin.
But I had good luck going out to the theaters to see "London Has Fallen" a few weeks back, and I made my plans to start going to the movies more often, preferably on Monday nights so I don't have to fight the crowds. So while my chain is counting down the days until "Batman v. Superman" (though I'll probably review that about two weeks after release) tonight I'm sneaking out to see "Deadpool". Flip back to March 21, and you'll see that I skipped that day, no review was posted. I went from "Aloha" to "Mission: Impossible", this was viewed in-between. I know, I know, it's a violation of my rule about each film needing to share an actor with the films before it and after it. And had I known that "Deadpool" shared an actor with the film "Spy", things might have been different.
But here's the thing - I build my chains based on what's ON the list. And a film that just came out in theaters isn't on my list yet, because I don't have a copy. It's a hard enough job to build these chains with the films I have, if I have to include films I don't have copies of yet, that's really hard, you've got to give me, like, a few months notice. So therefore I'm watching "Deadpool" tonight and saving the review for later.
EDIT: Stan Lee carries over from "Captain America: Civil War").
THE PLOT: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
AFTER: The X-Men movies pulled a fast one with "Days of Future Past", with Wolverine traveling through time, creating a new timeline, all mistakes are corrected, and everything is forgiven (mostly). It's OK, they do this all the time with comic-books, once continuity gets too complicated, and there are too many stories for writers to keep track of - because, like, remembering things is so HARD, you guys! - they just scrap the whole damn universe and start over with a new origin story. The DC universe did this about 4 years ago (Flash traveled through time and changed something, same result) and the Marvel Universe did this last year with "Secret Wars". The multiverse ended, Dr. Doom saved little pieces of different realities, and then Mr. Fantastic got hold of the power and put reality back the way he remembered it (mostly). Then he died, only he didn't. Or something, it's pretty fuzzy.
In the movies, Wolverine's travel back to the 1970's somehow gave Deadpool a new origin, a chance to reboot the character and make him better than the one that was seen in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", where he was also played by the same actor, but for some reason had his mouth sewn shut. Or removed, or something, it's pretty fuzzy. But Deadpool is called "The Merc with the Mouth"! If you take away the clever dialogue, what have you got? A shitty character, that's what. So now, here's another chance, let's get it right.
And boy howdy, I think they did. So much witty dialogue, so many inside jokes and self-reflexive comments. That's exactly the character seen in the comic books - Deadpool is the only Marvel comic book character who's aware that he's in a comic book. Or perhaps he's just crazy, that's a bit fuzzy. If you don't like your comic book character so self-aware, then you can just think of him as insane. He breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience - oh, yeah, he's aware that there's an audience watching.
Now, they do that thing that a lot of comic books and a lot of movies do, which drives me crazy. They start the story in the most action-packed way possible, then there's a slow-motion sequence or a freeze-frame, and they say, "Now, let's go back to where all this started." And then they either go back to the start of the hero's day, or in this case, back to tell the origin of Deadpool, and do it right this time. Wade Wilson was a guy, a professional mercenary, who got cancer, and volunteered for experimental treatments that cured the cancer, but gave him super-human healing powers, and also messed up his skin. The great fighting abilities come from his special-ops training, he's not super-strong or super-smart and can't fly, he just heals really well, like Wolverine. But where Wolverine's so serious all the time, Wade is a jokester, a prankster. He's like Batman AND the Joker in the same package.
So we toggle between the two timelines, the one where Deadpool is killing a bunch of bad guys, and the one where Wade Wilson gets superpowers, until eventually we get to the end of one, and it's where the other timeline started, and we can then proceed with the final showdown. But just because comic books do this, hook you in with the "splash page" of action, it doesn't mean that movies have to do it too - it's so common now, it's become a cliché. But here's the difference, since Deadpool is AWARE that he's in a movie, and he talks to the audience, he's also aware of all the clichés, including flashbacks. That ALMOST makes it OK, but not entirely. I still say, find a better way to tell the story in regular order, and still keep it interesting. Sure, the origin story may be a little boring, so make it better, or speed through it faster.
Now, some more positives. Using Colossus as a foil character for Deadpool is a great idea, because he's so righteous, so virtuous, so sure that he's always correct, that helps to highlight the fact that Deadpool works in the grayer areas, where the bad guys are SO bad, it's OK to kill them. And Colossus is the team player, always touting the benefits of being part of the group of X-Men, it's another sharp contrast to Deadpool's "lone wolf" mentality.
Also, they went back to the basics by using the villain Ajax. I don't think he's been around in the comic books for years, but he's another great foil for Deadpool - because he feels no pain. You can stab him, shoot him, cut off a limb, and he won't feel it. While Deadpool on the other (severed) hand, feels pain all the time, but always heals from it. How extensive is his healing power? Well, in the comics there's an alternate-reality version of Deadpool who's just a zombie-like head, called Headpool. And there's also a villain who was composed of Deadpool's severed limbs, somehow a few of them found each other and grew a new brain and nervous system. (I think, though I admit that's a bit fuzzy)
The supporting cast is also straight from the first few years of Deadpool comics - Wade's friend/business contact Weasel, his old lady roommate Blind Al, and even Bob, the villain's flunky that he was occasionally friendly with. There's also Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a young X-Men trainee who I barely remember from the comic books, I think she was fairly underused during the "New X-Men" era. (EDIT: Nope, I stand corrected, she was a minor villain character during the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely run. I got the book right, but the character's affiliation wrong...) This Angel Dust character is a new one, I think - I don't quite understand why they didn't just use Frenzy or another strong female villain. (EDIT: Nope, I'm wrong again. Angel Dust was a character in the "Morlocks" series from 2002, which I didn't read.)
NITPICK POINT: Now, I'm going to get very critical of the direction and editing for a second. Back in film school, very early on we learned the dangers of "crossing the axis". This refers to any time that there is action between two people, and you have to imagine there is a line that runs between them, this is the axis. When you cut to a new camera angle, you need to stay on the same side of the axis, or else the characters will appear to have changed places. In order to take the reverse shot, you need to position a shot ON the axis before crossing it, so that the audience will not get confused. Again, this is really basic stuff, Film School 101, and once you learn it, you'll be able to see this technique used everywhere.
Now, when two people are in a car, one on the driver's side and the other in the passenger's seat, that imaginary axis runs right between them, and any good director knows that you cannot cut from a shot taken from the left side of the car to a shot taken from the right side of the car, unless you first cut to a shot ON the axis, like a shot through the front windshield. If you don't include this shot, then the entire car will appear to be going left-to-right (or east-to-west) and then in the next shot, right-to-left (or west-to-east). In the conversation between Deadpool and his taxi driver, they cross the axis repeatedly - so which way is the car going? I didn't know, it kept changing! The axis got crossed so many times in this film, but the taxi scenes were the absolute worst of it.
Starring Ryan Reynolds (last heard in "Turbo"), Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin (last seen in "Serenity"), T.J. Miller (last heard in "Big Hero 6"), Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, Jed Rees, the voice of Stefan Kapicic.
RATING: 8 out of 10 skee-ball tickets