Sunday 28 February 2016

Deadpool by Reese, Wernick, Nicieza and Liefeld

The thing that most immediately intrigued me about Deadpool was where the hell the character got his name. But it turns out its derivation was exactly what I thought: a dead pool is a betting syndicate wagering on who's going to die first. It's already been the title of a film — The Dead Pool was the fifth and final Dirty Harry movie.

This Deadpool is a Marvel superhero; yes, another one. He kills bad guys with guns and swords and his main gimmick is that he can regenerate when he's wounded. Actually, his real main gimmick is that he breaks the fourth wall. In other words, he addresses the audience.

The comic book Deadpool was created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Rob Liefeld. This film was scripted by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who co-wrote Zombieland), and directed by Tim Miller.

Deadpool's chief virtue is its sense of humour — the opening credits are just hilarious. And it maintains a sleazy, snarky tone throughout which sets it apart from other Marvel extravaganzas. It is also distinguished by deliberately gory and extreme violence. My main reaction to this was to notice how ineffectual it was compared to similar material in Kingsman.

Kingsman was a way better film. At first I thought this was because it was a spy movie, and so it was more rooted in reality than a superhero story. But actually the reason it was better was because it had a plot and characters.

The premise for Deadpool, on the other hand, is terribly scant. Mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is turned into a super powered mutant but the process renders him hideously ugly — in terms of the movie's makeup, this basically means he looks like John Malkovitch. Wade wants to get the mad scientist responsible for his plight to repair his looks. And in the meantime he's steering clear of the girl he loves, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, who was great in Homeland and V).

Given that's all we've got to go on here, the action scenes rapidly run out of steam and the humour, admirable as it is, just isn't enough to power the movie. Ultimately a negligible endeavour. But Ryan Reynolds is surprisingly good.

(Image credits: The posters are all from Imp Awards. I particularly adore the one which attempts to repackage the movie as a date flick for Valentine's Day.)

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