Deadpool has been screened to critics and the verdicts are in. After weeks of a hugely entertaining, albeit saturated marketing campaign, the release is finally upon us. The embargo has been lifted on reviews and the critics, well, they appear to really like it. Some are glowing in their praise, others more tempered, with a few criticisms thrown in for good measure. Let’s see what everyone’s saying…
The meta the better. This seems to be the mission statement for this horribly violent, shriekingly self-aware and macabre Marvel super-antihero movie. The funniest Ryan Reynolds film since Van Wilder: Party Liaison, Deadpool is dripping in irony, zinging and stinging with pop-culture gags
The fourth-wall-smashing is fun in a Ferris Bueller kind of way, but it’s never pulled off with the devious panache of Blazing Saddles, let alone Funny Games or Hellzapoppin’. Since it’s this stuff, rather than the ongoing thud-thud-thud of bad language and gore, that feels mould-breaking, it’s a pity Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay doesn’t have the courage to experiment a little more. This isn’t the future of superhero movies, but it’s an enjoyably obnoxious detour.
As a vehicle for the impudent comic stylings of Ryan Reynolds, this cheerfully demented origin story is many, many cuts above Green Lantern, and as a sly demolition job on the superhero movie, it sure as hell beats Kick-Ass. It’s fast, ferocious and inevitably a bit too pleased with its own cleverness.
Beyond even what Robert Downey Jr. has done in the Iron Man series, Reynolds lets fly here in a manic, sly, self-conscious way that leaves you not quite knowing what hit you; the irreverence slides quickly into lewd comic territory, the inside jokes about Marvel in particular and pop culture in general come fast and furious, the fourth-wall breakage is disarming and the actor’s occasional fey, high-pitched voicings add yet another strange element.
As in the presence of motor-mouthed comedians, you either sit there stone-faced or eventually capitulate to the cascade of weirdness and the fertility of wayward minds unleashed.
Deadpool is almost exactly what you’d expect it to be. Like the antihero at its bloody, boisterous core, it’s loud, stupid and full of crude jokes, with wild lashings of cartoonish violence. All of this you’d expect from its trailers.
If nothing else, Deadpool is a breath of relatively fresh air. It’s past time that cinematic audiences were shown that there’s moral space in superhero universes between the Hero Who Saves the Day (Even If Reluctantly) and the sadistic, all-life-destroying villain. Those characters often reveal more about the nature of superheroism than their nobler counterparts. And they’re often a lot of fun.
The jokes in Deadpool are delivered with such a sly, smart-aleck wink that it takes a while to figure out that it’s selling a jokey tone rather than actual jokes half the time. But it’s got the perfect salesman in Reynolds. Even with a face that’s been horrifically crispified into what his pal (Silicon Valley’s T.J. Miller) likens to the offspring of an avocado that had sex with an older avocado, Reynolds and his character are a blast of laughing gas in a genre that tends to take itself way too seriously. Deadpool may not be a cutting-edge comedy, but it is a cutting-edge Marvel movie. And right now, that’s something.
Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining — and decidedly non-family-friendly — results.
It’s at its best in its moments of meta-humour — Deadpool wondering whether it’ll be James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart in charge at the X-Mansion, or bemoaning the budgetary reasons that mean the only two X-Men he ever gets to actually meet are metallic giant Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and sullen youngster Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). But its comedic currency tends to the less cerebral, and your reaction to the relentless stream of jokes about masturbation and oral sex will depend how high Van Wilder: Party Liaison is on your list of favourite Ryan Reynolds films. (The closer to the top, the better, naturally.)