Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Deadpool: The right kind of wrong

Deadpool almost managed to make me forgive it for being an origin story, and completely managed to make me forget that the last time I saw Ryan Reynolds was in this. I now retroactively hate the director and writer of that movie even more than I already did, since it turns out that Ryan Reynolds is effortlessly funny and they somehow managed to find a way to hide it.

Deadpool is either going to have you at hello or you’re going to hate it. The opening credits are simultaneously a slo-mo action scene and a sustained joke about superhero movie cliches using the credits to point out that it’s always the same characters, right down to the obligatory villain with a British accent. Reluctantly, I have to admit that it doesn’t always sustain that high; there’s a lot of flat bits where they’re trying to get on with the story or build up some character motivation, and they stop wise-cracking for what always feels like an age. Then the wise-cracking kicks in again and it’s all fine.

Between the sarcasm and the meta-fiction and the relentless over the top violence, I got to wondering whether it would have been better or worse to give the whole thing to Matthew Vaughn, but I suspect the reality is that the only limitation on proceedings was that Marvel wouldn’t throw much money at a foul-mouthed R-rated movie full of single entendres and horrible murder. Which was a good call; they’re making more money back off the modest gamble, per dollar spent, than they’re likely to make off X-Men Apocalypse; they’ve already taken in as much money as the last X-Men movie, all while diss-ing it every chance they got. There is, of course, the horrid risk that they’ll take the wrong lesson from this, and spend much more on the sequel, rather than cutting the budget for all their other movies and trying such novel approaches as acting, writing, and focus.

Putting to one side the fact that it’s duh, another origin story, the real success in Deadpool is that it’s a small human-scaled movie in which one guy is trying to save his own world, rather than the whole world. Which makes it better than the last small-scaled Marvel movie, even before they added dirty jokes and systematic attacks on the fourth wall. Deadpool  is so good at small scale that I’d have been perfectly happy watching a whole movie of Wade beating up minor nuisances for chump change and hitting on skanky women in terrible bars, which is pretty much Deadpool’s backstory. 

Bonus points for ragging on Marvel all the way through the movie, sniping at all the other movies and complaining about how they shorted them on the budget (the running gag of Deadpool always forgetting to bring his guns to gunfights is at least partly down to them not having the money to stage big gunfights). Super bonus points for a climactic battle which doesn’t level the city, but does partly trash a wrecked helicarrier being cut up for scrap; I just liked the idea that all this apocalyptic crap from the big budget movies just winds up getting in everyone else’s way for years afterwards.

In good news for the 33 people who liked this, Ed Skrein will be free for the sequel, what with getting shot in the head at the end of this movie. Also in the movie, in one of the subtlest CGI effects I’ve ever not noticed until afterwards, is Gina Carano somehow being a foot taller and a bunch chunkier than she is in real life; it’s a perfect demonstration of how an unflashy effect gets more work done.

And for once, it’s a Marvel movie with a post credits sting worth waiting for. On the one hand, it mocks the whole Marvel credits sting time waster, and on the other hand it perfectly echoes what was once almost the only credits sting in the world, the closing gag in Ferris Bueller. Always leave them laughing.

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