“Deadpool”, the unapologetically R-rated clown prince of superheroes, has spawned a sequel that’s even more outrageously meta (and perversely funny) than its parent.
“Deadpool 2” is the second in cowriter/producer/star Ryan Reynolds’ series of passion project-atonements for the grotesque misfire of 2011’s “Green Lantern” (words can’t convey my loathing of that movie) and his much maligned portrayal of Deadpool-not-Deadpool in the first standalone “Wolverine” movie of 2009.
With the two newer “Deadpool” movies, it’s safe to say that Reynolds is off the fans’ collective hook.
The sequel’s story is a fourth-wall demolishing, free-for-all mix of “The Terminator,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “John Wick”, Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” and a deep skewering of Marvel’s own “X-Men” franchise. The result is far more over-the-top than the first film, and arguably a lot more fun.
Reynolds’ “Wade/Deadpool” character is clearly the ringmaster and lead acrobat of this circus, but this is still an ensemble effort. Newcomer Josh Brolin is effective as the time-traveling cyborg “Cable” (a Terminator-like villain with a twist), and I also enjoyed Zazie Beetz’ scene-stealing sidekick “Domino” as well. Brianna Hildebrand (“The Exorcist TV Series”) returns as the reigning queen of snark, “Negasonic.”
Other well-served returning characters include Morena Baccarin’s “Vanessa,” Stefan Kapicic’s CGI “Colossus” and Leslie Uggams’ “Blind Al.”
The story has just enough meat on its bones to keep Marvel-action fans engaged; there is a tragic romance, a mutant child in peril (Julian Dennison’s “Firefist”), and a ruthless hunter on the prowl. We do feel a sense of jeopardy, and there is enough forward momentum to make the movie’s two hour running time feel just right.
In more serious hands this would’ve made for a decent, if somewhat routine summer blockbuster. But in the hands of writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Reynolds himself and director David Leitch, “Deadpool 2″ becomes Marvel’s own beat-‘em-to-the-punchline parody of a superhero movie. It’s at least as funny, or arguably funnier than what parodic maestro Mel Brooks (“Blazing Saddles” “Young Frankenstein”) might’ve put together 30-40 years ago, and with that extra sting that could only come from an inside job.
Perhaps my one criticism of “Deadpool 2” is that there are almost too many meta-moments, jokes and sly references to take in one sitting, but such a nitpick is more of a failing on my part than the filmmakers. I look forward to the blu-ray release, mainly so I can go back and catch some of those bits that I’m sure I missed the first time around.
“Deadpool 2” is a movie that just screams to be shown for a comic book convention audience; I doubt there’s a single reference or in-joke that’d be missed by such a crowd. But that’s not to say a more casual superhero or action movie fan won’t find plenty to love here, either.
After a long, steady diet of sturm und drang armageddon-porn superhero movies, it’s refreshing to see Marvel’s “Deadpool” playfully acting as its own timely parody.
Deadpool is the R-rated court jester of the Marvel cinematic universe.
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