Sep 172018
 
two reels

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is traumatized by the death of his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). [No, that is not a spoiler. It happens in the first few minutes; Baccarin only makes a cameo. More than not being a spoiler, this little bit of info should have been on every poster and in every trailer surrounded by flashing lights and the word “WARNING.”] So he joins the X-Men, and ends up acting as protector to an abused fire-starting teen mutant (Julian Dnnison) who is being stalked by Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling cyborg whose family was killed by the teen after he grows up and becomes a super-villain. To save the kid, Deadpool brings in his pal Weasel (T.J. Miller), Colossus (voice: Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and her girlfriend Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), lucky mutant Domino (Zaxie Beetz), taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni), and a few others who get less screen time.

OK, so they kill Vanessa and then make a lot of really good jokes about how stupid that is in the opening credits. And those jokes are good because it really is stupid. Massively stupid. Movie-destroying stupid. Fire everyone involved and start from scratch stupid.

Sigh.

Deadpool was a fun movie that ripped into the genre and told a lot of great jokes. But it didn’t rip that hard. It wasn’t that edgy. Sure, it was edgy for a big studio tent-pole in a genre aimed at teenagers, but in general, it wasn’t extreme. It wasn’t good because it was so “out there.” It did take some good shots at the genre, which worked, because it wasn’t an action film at its heart, but a romance. Its story wasn’t that of the typical superhero film, where romance, if it exists at all, is a secondary consideration after defeating the bad guys. In Deadpool, the super-villain stuff is only what goes on while Deadpool is working out what he really should be doing with Venessa and none of it matters until she pops in again. That set it apart. More, Deadpool the character is an obnoxious, creepy jerk who I don’t want to spend two hours with, except Vanessa thinks otherwise, and what she thinks matters. Since she’s perfect, and she likes Wade, I like Wade. It’s all about her.

And now she dead. Which leaves Deadpool being annoying and there’s nothing to counter that. And without Venessa, there’s no romance, so the story becomes a typical super-hero film about saving the innocent. Worse still, it becomes a typical X-Men film. The theme here is about picking yourself up after tragedy (like every freakin’ superhero film ever) and making a surrogate family. Deadpool even restrains himself, and while it was fair game before to make fun of everything, it seems child abuse is off-limits. So, a wacky comedy with serious child abuse statements. Oh boy. One film earlier Deadpool was showing us how ridiculous X-Men films are, and now he’s in one.

As for Cable, as some point in the writing process I think they meant to use him to satirize the grizzled, anti-hero trope, but they didn’t get anywhere with it. For most of the film, Cable is taken seriously, and as he’s pretty dull as a character, he brings nothing to the table. Again, we’re not getting a joke about the X-Men, but getting the X-Men (minus any real emotion).

That makes the basic structure of the film a cliché, the lead character annoying, the anti-hero boring, the theme irritating, and there’s nothing to care about. Which leaves the jokes, which no doubt many people consider the main course. And there are a lot of great ones. Most everything involving X-Force, particularly Domino and Peter, is laugh-out-loud funny, though the trailer spoils all the best gags. The Domino “combat” scene alone almost makes the whole film worthwhile. And Deadpool himself has some great moments—fighting to Enya and the mid-credits bits are some of the best. Some other characters are funny, but we’ve seen it before and they are less funny the second time around. The interactions with Negasonic Teenage Warhead still hold up, but Colossus and Dopinder elicited only a mild smile from me, and T.J. Miller, doing exactly the same things he did in the first film, has worn out his welcome. And there is simply fewer jokes than before. We spend a lot of time with child abuse and grieving and that leaves less time for humor. And without the framework to support the jokes, Deadpool 2 feels drab.

Is it worth seeing? For the some of the jokes, yeah, I suppose. Though for the harm it does to the first film it wasn’t worth making. It isn’t a bad film, but it is a disappointing one.

[For those curious about the different cuts, the theatrical is a touch better. The Super Duper cut has the same feel and none of the changes are significant. Mostly, a joke is swapped for another joke or an additional line is added to a string of jokes, and rarely are the new ones any more R-rated than the original. Sometimes the new jokes are funnier; sometimes the old ones are. More often, they are just different. Except in the case of Domino, less is more, so adding lines is not a plus. Adding more of Colossus and Dopinder doing the same stuff is not a good addition, and more of T.J. Miller drags the film down. Additionally, the extended cut gives us two additional scenes with the mutant teen, and somber child abuse is not what I look for in my wacky comedies. The theatrical version is better paced, better edited, and includes the best musical moment (an acoustic version of A-Ha’s Take on Me, so add a half reel to the rating.]

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