Deadpool Review

The first superhero film of a year saturated with superhero films. We’ve got Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Captain America: Civil War also coming out this year. But first, we must start with this week’s Marvel property, Deadpool.

Deadpool, stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein and TJ Miller and is directed by Tim Miller. The film follows mercenary Wade Wilson (Reynolds) as he acquires mutant abilities, transforming him into Deadpool. He then goes after the men who ruined his life and tries to save his ex-girlfriend.

Deadpool as a comic book character is known for being very post-modernist. He regularly breaks the forth wall, or referencing the comic book writers or other characters, he even uses the comic book panel layout to fight his enemies. It’s his signature style, and thankfully, the script writers, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have got it down perfectly.

The jokes start from the very start, where instead of a credit sequence, vaguely insulting descriptions pop up e.g. “A Shameless Cameo” (Stan Lee) or “An Overpaid Idiot”, (the director, Tim Miller). It’s the first time a Marvel film has gone into full-blown comedy mode, and nearly every joke hits it’s mark. Near the middle of the film, once the spark of the opening has worn off, a fair few of the jokes become very hit-and-miss, sometimes just being profane for the sake of it. It does turn just far enough back around for the ending, but it never really recaptures the excellent comedy of the first half an hour. There are even a few “jokes” to try and win over fanboys (involving the last two superhero characters Reynolds infamously played) that repeat so often it feels a bit tiring.

While many people were angry about Ryan Reynolds being Deadpool (my Twitter feed was full of comic fans spitting in 140 characters), he brings a huge amount of energy to the role. TJ Miller (who was in Disney’s kids Marvel film, Big Hero 6) as his friend Weasel is good in the nerdy sidekick role, with some great lines. There is a small role for famous singer Leslie Uggams as Deadpool’s elderly blind roommate, whose arguments with Deadpool over furniture are hilariously absurd. My favourite character though is Colossus, played by both Stefan Kapičić and Andre Tricoteux. He should be a massive bruiser, but Kapičić’s (excellent Russian) voice, mixed with Tricoteux’s motion-capture create a character who does everything to not hurt his enemies. There is even a bit during a fight where he helps an enemy back to their feet before engaging them again.

The licensed soundtrack is magnificently overdone and entertaining. Keeping with the post-modernist flourishes, the soundtrack is all 80s to early 90s, featuring Juice Newton’s “Angel In The Morning” (which accompanies the opening credit sequence), Salt-n-Pepa, several instances of George Michael and Wham! and DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” (which is the background to a brilliantly over-the-top slow-motion walk). They’re all toe-tapping songs, and fit perfectly into the messed-up mind of Deadpool’s character.

The story flips back and forth through time, which personally got rather annoying for me. We start the film with Deadpool on the tail of the man who ruined his life, before jumping back to before he acquired his superpowers, and then back to the present. The film does this several times and by the third or fourth time it became tiresome. The starting story was the most interesting and it took a long time to come back to this plot thread, instead just adding baggage to his earlier life. Once he gets his powers though, the story picks back up again and we get some gory and blood-soaked fights.

In the end, Deadpool is a better than anything that came out under the Marvel banner last year. I don’t know if it stands up with the best of them (which I think everyone collectively agrees is the first Iron Man) but it will find an audience who want their superheroes to be more foul-mouthed and puerile. Watch at your own discretion, but you’ll definitely laugh with and at Deadpool.

Score: 7/10 Funny, gory and gloriously dumb.

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Woman In Gold Review

I can already tell this film is going to be at the Oscars for 2015. Let’s look at the facts. Is it a biopic? Yes. Does it have big name stars in the lead roles? Yes. Is it from a nearly unknown director? Yes. Those are the three things that make you virtually get given an Oscar, so let’s look at the rest of the film.

Woman In Gold is directed by Simon Curtis and stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer Randol Schoenberg and Daniel Bruhl as an investigative reporter, Hubertus Czernin. The film follows Maria and Randol, as they investigate and then legally battle for a painting of Maria’s aunt, the titular Woman in Gold, stolen by Nazi’s which is currently being held in the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna.

When I first heard about Woman In Gold, I was a bit sceptical. Of course Helen Mirren is known for her “talkie” films, yet Ryan Reynolds is not known for his serious drama work. I was thinking it was going to be, to borrow another reviewer’s phrase, “Meg Ryan is a helicopter pilot” all over again. Yet Reynolds pulls off the lawyer role, in one of his strongest roles yet. Helen Mirren as well does a role she could do in her sleep, although her Austrian accent drops in and out of the film. Daniel Bruhl is his usual lovable self, although doesn’t really add anything to the overall plot in the film, he just drops in to add a few titbits of information and expertise. And it’s always nice to see Jonathan Pryce in films, even though if his role consists of barely five lines and ten seconds of action.

The story is a dual narrative, with Tatiana Maslany playing a younger Maria during the initial stages of the Austrian invasion and then cutting to present day now and again. It makes the film one of two halves though, one part historical drama and the other a sort-of courtroom drama (since we hardly spend time in the courtroom yet have many discussions between lawyers), but around two thirds into the film the historical part ends and we are firmly rooted in the courtroom, until the final few scenes transport us back to Maria’s final moments in Austria. It has a similar resemblance to Russian Ark, and I know that is the most obscure reference that could be ever made but it does draw similar styles to Alexander Sokurov’s masterpiece. (If you haven’t seen Russian Ark then please find a way to watch it, it’s a marvel of filmmaking.) The final scene is a beautiful montage sequence of Helen Mirren’s Maria walking through all of the historical Maria scenes we have previously watched, with a small addendum to one of them, which is easily the most emotional scene in the film even making me nearly shed a tear.

The film, like all other films, has some problems. At 109 minutes the film feels a bit overly long, with some pointless scenes that were added for historical accuracy. Another problem I had with the film is with its use of foul language. The BBFC at the beginning of the film labelled it a 12A for “infrequent strong language”, yet there is only one word in the entire film that could constitute that. My problem with it was that it wasn’t needed, it didn’t add anything to the scene or the film and if it wasn’t included then the film could have moved down to a PG, which I think would have been good since I believe this is a film an entire family should watch at some point. Some characters are glossed over as well, such as Maria’s husband Fritz (played by Max Irons) or Randol’s stay at home wife Pam (played by Katie Holmes). Apart from a few lines from Helen Mirren, we hardly find out about what happened to Fritz at the end of the historical part of the film and we only see Katie Holmes in conjunction with her on screen husband.

In summary, Woman In Gold takes both the historical drama and a small bit of the courtroom drama and adds them together to create a thought provoking and moving real life tale about identity and lineage.

Score: 7/10 Just like the eponymous painting, Woman in Gold is a worthy piece of cinematic art.