A Review of ‘Deadpool’ (2016)

‘Deadpool’ is, hands-down, the best Deadpool movie you will see this year.

An old, weary joke I know, but in this case it happens to be true. Is ‘Deadpool’ an exceptional superhero movie? Is it riotously entertaining? Is it a deep and thoughtful exploration of love and loss? Is it a refreshing change of pace from the preceding and succeeding torrent of superhero films with which we are supplied? Are all of these questions rhetorical?

In order: No, Yes, No, Yes, Yes. Funnily enough, your mother said exactly the same sequence of words to me last night. Only with exclamation marks instead of commas. And a lot of heavy breathing.

deadpool-gallery-03-gallery-image

‘Deadpool’ is an “experience film” – every element of it exists solely to provide the audience with the experience of watching a movie about Deadpool. You may think that’s a semantically-null sentence, and you may be right, you’d have to explain the meaning of “semantically” to me first. But ‘Deadpool’ is a vehicle for the character Deadpool, and that’s the limit of what it offers.

If you enjoy Deadpool’s personality-laden antics, then this film will entertain – almost beyond measure. I am not a comic-reader, and so I knew little about the character beyond his origin and main characteristics, but I hugely enjoyed every minute of exposure that he received – which happened to be the entire run-time, more-or-less.

However, if playground humour doesn’t particularly entertain you, and if you prefer some of the more mature characterisation of the first two X-Men films by Bryan Singer, or the brutal reality of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, or the traditional, grandiose heroics of Captain America and The Avengers, then ‘Deadpool’ won’t have much of great appeal.

As I left the cinema with my friends (I have at least two, believe it or not), we discussed films in general, and what we liked about certain productions compared to others. We mostly enjoyed ‘Deadpool’, and we mostly disliked James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ (2009) – which is another “experience film”. In the same way that ‘Deadpool’ is all about putting the audience in the same room as a fun character, ‘Avatar’ is about bringing the audience to a strange, visually-encapsulating world – things like story, plot, character development, narrative, all take second place to the larger objective of crafting an “experience”.

That’s not to say that those elements are done poorly in either film – ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Avatar’ also share a great deal in that they are both very well made. The acting is fine, the stories are simple and coherent, the characters largely act in the way they’re supposed to act, the shots are all in-focus – because that’s all they need to be. Indeed, I could make the argument that some kind of deep, intense plot with twists and revelations would detract from ‘Deadpool’ as a product, because crafting such a plot would demand screen time that could otherwise be dedicated to the title character.

However, if the extravagant visuals of ‘Avatar’ aren’t enough for you, if the zany babblings of ‘Deadpool’s Deadpool don’t quite hit the mark, and if your brain demands the stimulation of an original, well-crafted story to entertain, then any “experience film” is going to leave you unsatisfied. And that’s fine – we each enjoy different things.

Except for ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’. Nobody actually enjoyed that.

Nobody.