Monday, June 25, 2018
Movies

‘Deadpool 2’ cracks jokes at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes

When Deadpool referred to Cable as "Thanos," the guy sitting next to me lost it. Because, you know, Thanos is the name of the villain in Avengers: Infinity War who is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays Cable, who is mostly the villain in Deadpool 2. So many levels of joke, whizzing by in a split-second of screen time.

I chuckled, too. I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, and that laughter was like cash back from a credit card. Not exactly a huge windfall relative to the original expenditure — I mean, a "Martha" joke is hardly compensation for having endured Batman v Superman — but not nothing either.

The script, by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds (who once again plays the title character), is loaded with winky, fourth-wall-piercing eruptions of meta, the kind of humor that can make even the slow-witted and literal-minded feel devilishly clever. Works for me, I guess. But this sequel to the R-rated, X-Men-adjacent surprise blockbuster of 2016 works maybe a little too hard in the service of a dubious cause.

The first Deadpool presented itself as an antidote to superhero fatigue, but it was really just another gateway drug. If you wanted to get the jokes, you had some homework to do.

Deadpool 2, cracking wise at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes, uses its self-aware irreverence to perform the kind of brand extension and franchise building it pretends to lampoon. By the end, a motley band of warriors has been assembled to fight evil. Another one. Those jokes about sequels lined up into the next decade aren’t really jokes, are they?

In the meantime, we get a sustained dose of Reynolds’ profane, inventive voice-over, and some kinetic fight scenes, briskly directed by David Leitch. Wade’s face and body are still scarred with burns, and he still dispenses sanguinary rough justice, from behind his makeshift mask.

Grief and despair drive Wade first to seek revenge and then to try to prevent two other acts of vengeance from taking place. His feelings also provide him with a permanent alibi. However vicious he may seem, however cavalier in his killing and maiming, his righteousness is always assured.

He befriends a boy named Russell (Julian Dennison), who has pyrotechnic abilities and who has been bullied and abused. Deadpool protects Russell, which helps guarantee Deadpool’s good-guy status.

Cable pops onto the scene as the kid’s nemesis, and as a lumbering, square-jawed compendium of knowing cliches. He’s a time traveler with a mechanical arm and a military demeanor, in effect Buzz Lightyear to Deadpool’s Woody. The other misfit toys in the box include Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), a large titanium-skinned Russian, and Domino (Zazie Beetz), who has the mysterious ability to emerge unscathed from perilous escapades. "Luck is not a superpower," Deadpool insists.

Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of Wade’s life, warns him that his heart is not in the right place, and there is a softness, a sentimentality, at the heart of Deadpool 2 that at once guarantees its mass acceptability and undermines its satirical credibility.

What drives this franchise is the same force that drives so much culture and politics right now: the self-pity of a white man with a relentless need to be the center of attention. He is angry, violent, disrespectful to everyone and everything, and at the same time thoroughly nontoxic and totally cool.

Sure. Great. But there is something ever so slightly dishonest about this character, something false about the boundaries drawn around his sadism and his rage. Deadpool 2 dabbles in ugliness and transgression, but takes no real creative risks.

Comments
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and heist caper ‘American Animals’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and heist caper ‘American Animals’

OPENING FRIDAY:JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOMDinosaurs: Keep them alive or kill them off? It’s a question that haunts the human characters in between fireball-dodging cardio workouts in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the spectacularly ho-hum new ent...
Published: 06/20/18
‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved animated superhero film The Incredibles, one of the mega-hit Pixar films that cemented its reputation for film humor and heart that would satisfy both parents and children. With cool mid-ce...
Published: 06/13/18
Why is Mister Rogers making adults cry decades later?

Why is Mister Rogers making adults cry decades later?

Neighborly block party comes to downtown Tampa.
Published: 06/12/18
 ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ about Mr. Rogers is much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ about Mr. Rogers is much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times

If beloved children’s television show host Mr. Rogers were once a representation of all things milquetoast, in the summer of 2018, his message of love and tolerance is not only saintly, it’s radical. In the deftly crafted documentary Won’t You Be My ...
Published: 06/12/18
Yes, ‘Ocean’s 8’ is a heist movie, but it’s also an empowering, cheeky comedy

Yes, ‘Ocean’s 8’ is a heist movie, but it’s also an empowering, cheeky comedy

Most every successful heist movie, just like a heist itself, functions by obeying a well-defined formula.First comes the setup and backstory (typically involving the righting of a wrong, to lend the subsequent lawbreaking a veneer of moral justificat...
Updated one month ago
TMZ: Last surviving munchkin from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ dies at 98

TMZ: Last surviving munchkin from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ dies at 98

The last surviving munchkin in The Wizard of Oz has died.Jerry Maren, 98, died last week at a nursing home in San Diego, according to TMZ.The cause of death for the last surviving member of the famous Lollipop Guild, made famous in the 1939 classic, ...
Updated one month ago
‘Blind Side’ star is at Tampa Theatre for a screening this weekend

‘Blind Side’ star is at Tampa Theatre for a screening this weekend

BLIND SIDE: Summer Classic Movie SeriesAll summer long, Tampa Theatre is showing classic Hollywood movies. Sunday features not only a screening of 2009’s The Blind Side, but also actor Quinton Aaron, who played Big Mike in the film, for a Q&A. Based ...
Updated one month ago
In ‘Hereditary,’ Toni Collette reveals a sixth sense for icy terror

In ‘Hereditary,’ Toni Collette reveals a sixth sense for icy terror

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy noted in a sentence so right, by the time you started arguing with it Anna Karenina was off and suffering.If Tolstoy got a look at Hereditary, he might’ve added: ...
Updated one month ago
Jodie Foster makes ‘Hotel Artemis’ first-class experience

Jodie Foster makes ‘Hotel Artemis’ first-class experience

Hotel Artemis is a shining example of how it isn’t the amount of money spent to make a movie, but how the budget is being spent. Director/writer Drew Pearce has managed to take the money that would be the cape-pressing budget for most superhero movie...
Updated one month ago