Wednesday, February 24, 2016
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
Deadpool  (directed by Tim Miller, screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, characters by Fabian Nicieza [wikip] [MC] [GR] [Amzn] [IMDb] and Rob Liefeld [wikip] [MC] [GR] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a film that I was originally quite ambivalent about seeing.
On the one hand, I've generally liked (and generally quite favorably reviewed) most of Marvel Comics' films. On the other hand, it was released on a rather "bad weekend" for me -- Valentine's Day fell on the First Sunday of Lent this year and the youth group (which I'm responsible for at our parish) has an bake sale each year around Valentine's Day. Then right after the weekend, my Servite Province had a Chapter of Elections to which we all had to head after the weekend ... So I had to "prioritize" :-)
And I guessed that a promised-to-be "quite violent" Marvel Comics based movie being released for Valentine's Day (??) "wasn't gonna do all that well at the box office anyway" ;-) ;-). So with the time that I had, I chose to see Zoolander 2  instead ;-)
It turned out, of course, that Deadpool  had the best weekend opening at the box office for an R-rated movie in Hollywood history ;-).
So ... in part I'm "eating crow" here ;-), and on the other hand I always find these "box office surprises" fascinating invitations for analysis: WT... why did THIS (or THAT) movie prove to be so astonishingly successful? And some of my most enjoyable reviews/blog entries (at least for me to write ;-) have involved trying to explain why films like Transformers 3: Dark of the World , Underworld: Awakening , Guardians of the Galaxy  and Jurassic World  proved to be such enormous box-office hits when on the surface their stories would have seemed, lets face it, "kinda weak" ;-) ...
-- Two 'races' of GIGANTIC alien shape-shifting robots come to Earth in order to ... smash things / each other while we (bystanders / Viewers / humanity) helplessly / with fascination (smiling, with popcorn in hand) watch -- Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon 
-- A woman-turned-vampire dressed in a black rubberized suit and armed with two automatic machine-guns (one in each hand) and a truly unlimited amount of silver coated bullets, shoots-up legions upon legions of attacking ravenous werewolf-like "Lycans," in a battle that takes place, naturally mostly in darkness, down "in the sewers" of an otherwise "slumbering major city" -- Underworld: Awakening 
-- A ten-year old kid who just lost his mother to cancer is ... abducted "by Aliens" ... and much, often quite nice, engaging and funny but certainly DIFFERENT than BEFORE ensues... -- Guardians of the Galaxy 
-- The makers of Jurassic Park decide that what the world needs is ANOTHER Jurassic Park (-like story) ONLY WITH BIGGER NOW "GENETICALLY ENGINEERED" DINOSAURS (even the previous, "recreated" dinosaurs of the first generation were "no longer big enough"). What could possibly go wrong? -- Jurassic World 
Everyone of these plot lines would seem, at first glance, to be ... "kinda stupid" ;-). But I do think that most Readers here will immediately appreciate why these films proved astonishingly successful: They clearly "spoke to Viewers" on a deeper / more subconscious level.
So let's turn to the current film:
It's about a not-particularly sympathetic guy named Wade Wilson (played by Ryan Reynolds) former "special forces" now "getting by" / making a living as a "merc(enary)." He hangs-out in a dive of a bar at the edge of some fallen town. And on a board in the bar, people keep tabs / place odds on which of the thugs / other lowlifes / mercs who hang-out in said bar is probably gonna die next, hence the story's name: "Deadpool."
Well, Wade may not have been a particularly sympathetic guy, with few friends except, perhaps the bartender nicknamed Weasel (played by T.J. Miller), who with a nickname like "weasel" couldn't possibly be the most trustworthy of friends ;-), BUT ... in this existential hell-hole, Wade does find love ... in a stripper named Vanessa (played by Morena Baccarin). And so things start "looking up" for him when ... he comes down with cancer.
Wade's not exactly the kind of guy who would have "taken care of himself" and as a "merc" he didn't exactly have the best of health plans. And Vanessa as a stripper probably didn't have the greatest of health plans either.
What to do? Well, not wanting to force his one true love, Vanessa, watch him suffer and die, he submits to "an experimental treatment" offered him by a quite shady looking character who promises that the treatment will not only "cure his cancer" but also "give him special abilities." Wade could care less about promised "special abilities," he just wanted the cancer cured.
Well he's cured of the cancer, receives special abilities (his body's cells can now regenerate faster than his cancer could ever kill them ... and this regeneration ability renders him all but immortal now because his regenerating cells can now quickly heal any wound that could be afflicted on him) BUT ... HE'S HORRIBLY DISFIGURED in the process.
With awful scars, bubbling boils all over his body (perhaps the result of this constant cellular regeneration) he now LOOKS like "a pool of death" -- like a "Deadpool" hence his new nickname and the _second_ use of the name in the story.
Well, cured but "looking like a pool of death," doesn't exactly make him want to go back to Vanessa. After all, he wanted to spare her the agony of watching him die. Now he wanted to spare her the agony of watching him live on -- looking like a monster.
So what to do? He wants revenge ... against the Evil "English Accented" Doctor nicknamed "Ajax" (played by Ed Skrein) who made him into the monster that he's become. Much ensues ...
Now Marvel Comics fans will know that Wade/Deadpool [MC] becomes a Wolverine-like character in the X-Men [MC] [Films 2011 2014] Universe inhabited by other "mutants" with both spectacular abilities but also very difficult back stories. But to be honest, how "Deadpool" fits in with the rest of the Marvel Universe is not particularly important here.
THE BIGGER QUESTION (to ME here) is:
WHY DID THIS "MARVEL COMICS" FILM WORK? And WHY on VALENTINE'S DAY?
Well it is a love story ;-). And yes, while neither Wade nor his girlfriend Vanessa were exactly "good people," they were "little/regular people with some (definite) issues" (LIKE MOST OF US...) and AT LEAST THEY HAD EACH OTHER. Then ... CANCER came into the story ... and The Rest ensued.
Honestly, it's a "blue collar" 21st century "Beauty and the Beast" [wikip]. That story brought tears to people's eyes since the European Middle Ages. Why couldn't this story do the same? And it does. One of the biggest surprises to me has been how many _young women_ (not male / "dateless" 20-something "fan boys" ;-) but young 20-something+ women) from my parish have seen this movie AND LIKED IT.
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