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Review: “Deadpool” Blu-ray – A Fun, Vulgar Take on the Superhero Origin Formula

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Deadpool

Deadpool Blu-rayFrom the very first frame, Deadpool positions itself as something different: a brash, loud and crude action-comedy superhero movie that offers something different. But, really, it’s the same superhero origin movie we’ve been seeing for years now, though it skillfully uses a distorted narrative, crude humor, and solid set pieces to cover up those well-known origin tropes. It’s not a total success, but it’s fun enough and does enough right to overlook some of its shortcomings. Still, the film is clearly a labor of love, hard fought by the cast and crew to deliver Deadpool the right way after the character’s botched original debut in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In short, it’s the film fans have been waiting for.

The “merc with a mouth” gets an extremely faithful film adaptation, giving fans the over-the-top violent Looney Tunes-antics from the comics they’ve come to associate with the character. Deadpool follows mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) who, shortly after meeting and falling in love with Vanessa Carlyle (Morena Baccarin), is diagnosed with terminal cancer and opts to undergo a radical form of treatment which leaves him disfigured and batty, but gifted with regenerative abilities. Things go a little left from there. Intermingled with his origin is plenty of twisted humor, vulgarity, and sex, with the film embracing the character’s violent characteristics and pushing them to 11. The movie earns its R-rating within the first few minutes alone.

Deadpool is pretty clever and makes some pointed observations in its own twisted way (the opening credits, for example, along with some jabs at “the studio”), but it’s not as smart as it thinks it is. The movie spends so much time on its self-referential gags and action sequences that it forgets that it needs to also service its story, which is pretty anemic. Wilson gets cancer, takes a cure that horribly disfigures him, and tracks down the person responsible. That’s it. However, its paint-by-numbers origin story avoids feeling repetitive by embracing the formula and making fun of it along the way, showing there is plenty of potential to really take the genre in new directions in future installments. Outside of Deadpool himself, the remainder of the cast is fairly two-dimensional with the possible exception of Carlyle. Wade’s girlfriend gets some great scenes, and is someone who can easily hold her in a myriad of situations, but is wasted for a good chunk of the movie when she becomes just another damsel in distress.

DeadpoolDeadpool is a lean revenge story that doesn’t really overstay it’s welcome, but as it approaches the finale, it does feel a bit like “that’s it?” The highway scene is easily the film’s iconic sequence, though the climactic battle is still nicely executed despite the obvious budgetary constraints. Colossus gets a couple good moments and easily the most screentime he’s ever gotten in an X-Men movie, but most of it is just played for laughs. He’s essentially the straight man to every other character he interacts with. His X-Men trainee, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, does manage to leave a notable impression with the few scenes she has.

That said, everything eventually melts into the background while the movie lets Deadpool do his thing. Most characters, such as the completely nondescript big bads of the film, don’t really register enough to leave a lasting impression, and the few that work really well against Reynolds’ Wade Wilson aren’t given enough time to become more than stock characters for a few well-time barbs. Blind Al is a fantastic character in the comic, but here she’s relegated to a handful of lines. Wilson’s contact in an underworld bar offers rattles off a few insults and that’s pretty much it. But Deadpool moves at such a zippy pace and does such a great job at embracing the source material that it’s pretty forgivable and easy to not even really notice.

DeadpoolThe film’s use of vulgar humor and sex glosses up some of the film’s quieter moments with genuine laughs. Most jokes come fast and most hit hard, though some of the pop culture references will likely zoom over the head of anyone born after 1997. There’s a good chance that a huge chunk of the audience won’t get the joke with the after-credit sequence. Still, the comic timing and enthusiasm behind Reynolds’ acting is palpable and helps give this film a cartoony sense of earnestness. He embodies the role so well and delivers every line with boundless enthusiasm, even if the film itself sometimes stumbles with what it gives him to work with. There’s one great Green Lantern gag in the movie that is legitimately clever, but a different swing at Reynold’s misguided 2011 super hero flick (the joke seen in the trailer where he exclaims he doesn’t want his supersuit to be green or “animated”) falls really, really flat.

Even if the movie’s humor starts to fumble a bit and the story is really no different than anything Disney’s Marvel Studios has churned out over the last few years, Deadpool does leave you wanting more. Deadpool feels like the opening act to a much bigger, more fulfilling movie, like a long cold open that establishes the character’s backstory before we dive into something bigger … except that “bigger” never comes.

The film’s playful, weird tone carries over to its Blu-ray release, with Fox Home Entertainment offering up a worthwhile addition to the shelf. The film looks and sounds absolutely fantastic, with a beautifully crisp transfer and a boisterous audio mix. The colors pop, the detail is impressive, and everything sounds balanced, be it quiet scenes or one of the film’s many action sequences.

Fox has given Deadpool a surprisingly robust home video release in terms of the bonus features, with the star attraction being the two-hour feature documentary. Surprisingly thorough but never losing that irreverent tone that made the movie such a hit, the documentary covers everything from the Deadpool’s comic book origins to the film’s complicated pre-production to the final days of post. Everyone on the cast and crew — special effects technicians, writers, actors, the director — gets a moment to discuss how the project came together so well despite facing some difficult odds. It’s an enjoyable watch, helped by humorous narration and some surprising attention to detail.

DeadpoolThe rest of the bonus content is just as solid for the most part. The two commentary tracks both entertain in different ways. The first one, featuring Ryan Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is fun as these three joke, pal around and discuss the film’s history. The second, with director Tim Miller and Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, plays things a bit more straight as both discuss Deadpool’s comic book origins and adapting the character to screen. Other bonus content includes 20 minutes of alternate and deleted scenes (including the excellent “Cancer World Tour” sequence), a legitimately funny gag reel, stills, storyboards, and a boatload of promos, trailers and spots. It’s a nicely plump package, which seems to be a rarity for physical media releases these days. The Deadpool Blu-ray release also comes with DVD and Digital copies of the film.

If you’re a fan of Deadpool’s schtick, you’ll enjoy this movie. It’s juvenile, gratuitously violent, overloaded with hilariously terribly language with some chuckle-worthy sexual content, and it is totally aimed at 15-year old boys. It does wear a little thin as the film zips to its finale, but Reynolds has enough charisma and comic timing to keep it from overstaying its welcome. It’s the right movie at the right time. The Marvel Studios formula is starting to get a little stale and Warner Bros’ DC Comics slate is pretty slim, so this offering feels fresh. It’s not as hip, edgy, and new as it would like you to believe, but it’s still a fun time and a nice change of pace. Deadpool definitely has a specific audience for it, and this movie will go over like gangbusters, but it’s also one that likely won’t age well or hold up to repeat viewings. Once the joke wears off, this superhero origin movie is no different than all the other ones.