My thoughts on: Deadpool (film)

I am not a comic book fan.

For the better part of my life – and even to this day – I’ve found comics a difficult thing to get into due to all the stories running alongside each other, weaving in and out of each other, and just keeping up with it all.

To that end, comic book movies have been spectacular for me. Easy to follow (release dates), the library is small (handful of movies vs. stacks upon stacks of issues), and they don’t really weave in and out unless you are watching the team-movies (Avengers).

One of the things that comics contain that I’ve always been envious of, however, are strong characters that don’t make it to the big screen. Worse yet, characters that get brought to the big screen in a way that is a horrible disservice.

Deadpool is one of those characters.

Originally brought to movies during Wolverine Origins, the version of Deadpool that we received was horribly wrong. There was a taste of who he was, but that’s all it was; a taste of the character drowned in a pile of “wrong”.

Fast forward a few years, we had the leaked test render of a Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds as the titular character. It nailed the sense of style and insanity of the character so well that fans of DP (like me) were clambering for more like it was going out of style.

Now, we have that “more”.

Deadpool is a faithful and very well done origin story that introduces us to “Deadpool-proper”, even going so far as to ret-con Origins to strike away the bad.

For those uninformed, Deadpool is smart-mouth mercenary Wade Wilson. He is diagnosed with terminal cancer and joins a project to not only cure him of his cancer, but also give him mutant abilities. He winds up with a healing factor that Wolverine would be envious of, but it doesn’t cure the cancer – it accelerates it while his body is also healing from it.

The end result? The pain and disfigurement he goes through are enough to cause his sanity to snap, while his powers cause him to become – essentially – immortal. He understands that he is a comic (or in this case, movie) character, breaks the fourth wall like it’s going out of style, is offensive to an unbelievable degree, and will not shut up.

He’s known as the “Merc with a mouth,” for that very reason. Sure, he’s highly skilled with tons of weapons, but some characters consider his rampant jabbering and smart-ass demeanor his ultimate tool.

One of the best descriptions I’ve heard is Deadpool is to heroes what South Park is to cartoons. He breaks the stereotypes, is horribly offensive and violent, yet also has some character and soul underneath.

The problem though is that the character is considered a running punch-line in recent comic runs and video games. Before, in the earlier comic runs, we saw that he actually had a lot of personality and some soul buried beneath the disfigured skin and trigger-happy tendencies.

This movie, however, understands older Deadpool. He’s not a running punch-line in the film, showing some of the character that hasn’t been seen in awhile.

Don’t take that to mean he’s lacking in the smart-ass department though. He’s lobbing snarky remarks, condescending one liners, fourth-wall breakers, and everything else all the time while cutting off heads and filling people with holes.

Oh, and trust me, this film earns it’s R-rating. The same rating fans of the character have been praying for. PG-13 Deadpool is like a lobotomy.

The story is simple but well played out, the villains are awesome in their own ways, the sidekicks and friends are great to have around, and Reynolds absolutely nails the titular “hero”. It’s fairly condensed at 100’ish minutes, but it doesn’t waste any time. The opening cast-roll alone had the theater crying in laughter.

One of the things that the film actually does extremely well to offset Deadpool’s “nature,” is the pacing. The romance really works and you feel his horror after he is operated on. They work well to offset all the other times he is telling henchmen that he is low on ammo so they all need to share or ramming a sword through their brains.

If you want something “else” from your hero movies, are a fan of the character, or just want a good action-comedy to watch, Deadpool is right up your alley. For me, this movie has been worth the wait and development hell it’s been through.

Solid and awesome, great way to spend some time this weekend. Hell, I’ll even be going back for more.

Oh, and stick through the credits. You should know this by now, but it still amazes me when people up and leave during the credits at these movies.

Prometheus.

So I went and saw Prometheus yesterday, and I gotta admit … I loved it. That said, I can also understand why hardcore “Alien” franchise fans would be disappointed. Let me break down why, and I promise not to drop any spoilers.

First off, it’s actually really well written! The last time I walked out of a Science Fiction movie with grand questions that I yearned to have answers to was … well, it’s been long enough that I’m not sure if I’ve had that problem. If you pay attention and keep an open mind, it gives you answers to various questions, but it also leaves some of the answer boxes left open and unmarked.

When you top the excellent writing with a great cast (Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, ect), some amazing aesthetics, and top notch sound design, you’ve got an awesome recipe. Seriously, the movie was fantastic in nearly all its elements.

Now for why you’ll not like Prometheus and /rage on the internet about it afterward. We’ll start off with the biggest reason; it’s NOT “Alien 0”. Yes it’s a prequel to Alien, but it’s not an Alien movie. Alien, in it’s most basic form, was about “Oh god, we found this bug and it’s killing our crew.”

Prometheus, however, is about the origins of Mankind and our connection to the planet (and ship on) from the first and second Alien films. Seriously, you won’t see a single Xenomorph like they were in the first and second films. There’s “stuff” going on, sure, but it isn’t the Bugs.

Second on the list of things you’ll hate: It’s not a horror movie. Yes, it has horror and some scenes are pretty damn nasty, but those are maybe 15-20 minutes of the entire film. Prometheus is more of a dark thriller in space, saving the moments that’ll get your blood pumping for the scenes that directly setup Alien.

So yes, if you want a dark thriller set in space that will get your brain spinning, rather than getting your blood pumping, Prometheus is for you. It’s intelligently written, has a fantastic cast topped with great visual and sound design, and establishes everything behind one of the longest running Horror franchises in film.

It’s not an Alien film before Alien, and it won’t answer all your questions; in fact, it’ll breed a few new ones. That’s part of its charm though, so enjoy the mystery! Seriously, go into the movie with an open mind and pay attention to it, and I’ll bet you enjoy the thing as much as I did.

Oh well, back to getting caught up on S7 of Supernatural and getting some writing done.

~ UPDATE: 6/14 ~

Well, I didn’t quite plan on returning to this article, but  can stop thinking about Prometheus. Despite my initial ravings, the reasons for which I can’t stop thinking about the film are not good.

After I wrote this first impressions review, I’ve watched a few debates and discussions on the film take place. I’ve also rewound the film in my head, giving some deeper thoughts on it.

The results aren’t good. I still enjoyed the film, yes, but I’ve developed three chief problems with Prometheus.

A) The characters. Looking back, I’d argue that while the cast is still very solid, the characters are pretty poor. As Chuck Wendig pointed out with his impressions on the film, all the characters are slaves to the story itself. Their decisions seem contradictory at the best of times, and flat out bad in others. The only real exception to this, I believe, would be Fassbender’s character, David.

B) The plot holes. Seriously, there are some pretty glaring plot holes that I can’t conceive of being “fixed” between Prometheus and Alien. I won’t go into details, for the sake of spoilers, but there are some details that are flat-out wrong on a completely obvious level.

C) The series. Prometheus serves more to give the implication of answers, rather than fully revealing anything. It’s discovered (in the first five minutes) that we’re the product of an Engineer and what I assume is some form of recombinant virus or DNA. Is it ever revealed why we were made, or exactly how? No. There are a number of things that are this way, but it only leads me to think that they intended to turn this into a new series for the Alien franchise. My suspicion is that their initial plan was to use the entire first film (Prometheus) as a lead-in to whatever else they could imagine.

I still enjoyed the movie, but the after taste is becoming a bit more bitter as time goes by.