Thursday, February 20

Movie review: ‘Deadpool 2’

(20th Century Fox)

"Deadpool 2"

Directed by David Leitch

Released May 18

20th Century Fox

“Deadpool 2” could have stuck in the shadows of its predecessor, but dodged such a downfall, boasting witty remarks all along the way.

20th Century Fox’s Marvel Cinematic Universe endeavor follows mutant superhero Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he copes with the death of his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and tries to stop a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison) from seeking revenge on an abusive headmaster. A slew of characters accompanies Deadpool on his mission, from futuristic villain-turned-hero Cable (Josh Brolin) to Deadpool’s gender-neutral team dubbed the X-Force. The film extends the iconic humor of the first film and doubles down with more diverse characters and a sleeker plotline. However, the film does hit some snags because of the sheer amount of material it tries to touch upon in its runtime.

“Deadpool” drew eyes back in 2016 because it presented one of the most snarky and self-aware superheroes to have graced the big screen: Wade Wilson, a mercenary in a red-and-black suit, brought to life by Reynolds’ quick-mouthed reactions.

“Deadpool 2” avoided repeating its predecessor by bringing a streamlined take on its original – clever lines balanced with restrained violence and decently developed characters. Its characteristic violent scenes merge smoothly with action sequences, without overshadowing one another.

Comedic banter also once again extends beyond the film as Deadpool constantly breaks the fourth wall, keeping his presence engaging. The gags lunge for real-life pop culture – ranging from “Fox & Friends” to “The Time Traveler’s Wife” – or acute allusions to the scriptwriting itself. Of course, the film can’t restrain itself from reaching into other superhero franchises. When Cable is first introduced, Deadpool remarks, “You’re so dark. Are you sure you’re not from the DC universe?” This banter is sharper than most superhero movies, adding an appreciable and enjoyable layer to a film that already pushes boundaries freely without feeling constricted.

The plotline itself is more structured and compelling than the original. The substantial highs and lows add an emotional depth that nicely contrasts with the quips from the characters. Though the themes of revenge and family are not new to the superhero realm, “Deadpool 2” supplies a fresh take on them, especially when characters take on shades of gray instead of falling into the well-defined categories of “good” and “bad.” The film subverts audience expectations of the characters, zigzagging between the comically obscene and the completely normal.

Also new in the film is the highly apparent push for diversity, perhaps most notable when Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), one of the returning X-Men from the original, announces her Japanese girlfriend. Additionally, Deadpool’s main sidekick in his X-Force is Domino (Zazie Beetz) an African-American woman whose superpower is luck.

However, the inclusion of extra characters ultimately leads to less screen time for each, leaving them undeveloped. Negasonic’s girlfriend only recites one or two repetitive lines. Domino is also given limited screen time and her backstory is never delved into.

Getting overloaded with information from the movie is half of the fun of “Deadpool 2,” but it is also where some of the faults are made visible. The film is dizzying in parts, darting from quick-witted references to high-energy action and back again. The more emotional and subdued scenes help offset the turbulence, but the balance remains off at times.

“Deadpool 2” embraces the challenge of following an unconventional superhero film by presenting the same tale in a different skin – more nuanced at points, but still the same at heart with its smart, self-aware humor.

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