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DEADPOOL

★★★

ENDLESSLY CRASS AND UNEXPECTEDLY CHARMING

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By Daniel Lammin
23rd May 2016

With superhero movies currently reigning supreme at the box office, it was only a matter of time before one came along that turned its attention back on the genre itself. It’s been deconstructed on film before, but never with any level of self-awareness or with the weight of a major studio behind it. That’s what makes the long-awaited (re)arrival of the beloved Marvel smart-ass Deadpool to the screen all the more distinct - if the Marvel behemoth has become the biggest franchise in the world, how will it handle poking fun at itself, especially from a immoral, violent, fourth-wall-smashing mercenary with one hell of a mouth on him and a tendency to mock the very genre he’s in?

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), an ex-Special Forces officer turned mercenary, has found some purpose in his wayward life with equally-explosive Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). However, when he finds out he’s suffering from terminal cancer, he submits himself to a disastrous experiment meant to heal him. Instead, he’s left horrifically deformed and manipulated, but also with accelerated healing powers, so taking on a vigilante persona called ‘Deadpool’, he hunts for those who made him like this, driven by insatiable revenge and a wonderfully twisted sense of humour.

It’s been a long time coming for Deadpool’s first solo cinematic outing, but what always made him a difficult sell for the studio system were his foul-mouth, his extreme violence and his tendency to talk directly to the audience. You can understand their trepidation, but the enormous success of ‘Deadpool’ both finically and critically has proven that audiences are willing to step outside of the increasingly tired comfort zone of superhero films. ‘Deadpool’ itself isn’t a particularly extraordinary film - director Tim Miller throws in a few stylistic flourishes here and there, but otherwise its craft is relatively safe. What makes ‘Deadpool’ so endearing is its beautifully drawn characters, and its commitment to completely disregarding the rules. The approach isn’t half-arsed, the humour endlessly crass and the meta-theatrics thick and fast, but if the team behind the film hadn’t committed completely, it never would have worked. Rather than being aggravating, the moments where our hero turns to us and offers a wise-crack sing with inventiveness, and the film plays beautifully with its audiences familiarity with the genre, gleefully poking as many holes in it as possible. It also helps that the story is comfortably entertaining, and even though it ends up ticking all the boxes you expect from an origin film, it's still aware of this and does so with the freedom to mock that where necessary.

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The key to the success of ‘Deadpool’ though is Reynolds, who has such a deep affection and knowledge for the character and brings all of that to his performance, at once joyous and focused. Reynolds has had a hard time finding a project that uses his unique charm and style to his advantage, and this is definitely it. He’s complemented by an excellent supporting cast that also includes T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand and Ed Skrein, all of whom fall into line with the style set by Reynolds and Miller, and milk it for all it's worth.

There’s so much charm to ‘Deadpool’ that it’s hard not to fall for it. The film itself might not push any cinematic boundaries, but it commits to the idiosyncratic style of its title character and offers an airing-out that the superhero genre desperately needed. It also proves that audiences are willing to step outside of the box and happy to see boundaries pushed. Now that the pesky origin story is out of the way, hopefully the future of the Merc with the Mouth is set to flourish. In the hands of Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller, that definitely seems likely.

The key to the success of ‘Deadpool’ though is Reynolds, who has such a deep affection and knowledge for the character and brings all of that to his performance.

PICTURE & SOUND
Of course, ‘Deadpool’ comes up a treat on Blu-ray. The 1080p 2.39:1 transfer is razor sharp, the colours (especially red, obviously) popping out beautifully. This isn’t the most visually exciting film, but the transfer captures all the gritty textures and details in this unusually grimy superhero film. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 also packs one hell of a punch, the sonically explosive film giving the speakers quite the workout. The track whizzes with life, and yet remains clear and defined, the dialogue never drowned out.

‘Deadpool’ is also available in Ultra 4K and digitally through iTunes.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Fox have gifted ‘Deadpool’ with a sack full of special features, the most substantial of which is ‘From Comics to Screen... to Screen’ (1:20:00), a surprisingly detailed making-of that balances self-referential humour with fascinating interviews charting the complicated development and final execution of the film. It’s complemented by two audio commentaries, one from Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and the other from Miller and Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefield. We also get nearly 20 minutes of extended or deleted scenes, a gag reel (6:12), a hefty image gallery and Deadpool’s Fun Sack, a collection of the more anarchic videos (23:54) and stills created during the clever publicity campaign for the film. It’s an excellent collection, the kind that should be the standard for tentpole films like this.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 25/05/2016
RUN TIME: 1h 48m
CAST: Ryan Reynolds
Morena Baccarin
Gina Carano
T.j. Miller
Ed Skrein
Brianna Hildehrand
DIRECTOR: Tim Miller
WRITERS: Rhett Reese
Paul Wernick
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