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Josh Reviews Deadpool 2

I feel about Deadpool 2 about the same way I felt about the first Deadpool: it’s a lot of fun and extremely well-made for what it is — a Mad Magazine version of a superhero movie.  That’s a compliment, as I hold Mad Magazine in the highest regard.  Twelve-year-old me didn’t think there was anything funnier than Mad Magazine, and I bet I’d have thought the same about these two Deadpool films.  They’re not exactly what I’m looking for in a superhero movie these days — a little too juvenile, a little too raunchy — but if you enjoyed the first Deadpool, I suspect you will love the sequel.  (Personally, I think I actually liked this sequel more than the original, which I was lukewarm on.)

Ryan Reynolds is again terrific in the lead role, and I love the way his Deadpool continues to be Bugs Bunny-like agent of chaos in the film (albeit an R-rated one!), unable to be destroyed and constantly commenting on everything going on around him.  The fast-talking Mr. Reynolds is very, very funny as this character.

Josh Brolin plays Cable, a super-soldier from the future come back in time to kill a super powered young Mutant before he wreaks havoc in the future.  Mr. Brolin is terrific, a great straight-man against Mr. Reynolds’ lunacy as Deadpool.  (Between this and his role as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Mr. Brolin is king of the superheroes this summer!!)  He also looks the part: the character-design of Cable in this film is perfect, a fantastic distillation of Cable’s iconic design (while losing some of the crazier aspects of the way the characters is sometimes drawn in the comics).  Mr. Brolin is so great as Cable that I sort of wish he was playing the character in a “real,” straight X-Men film as opposed to this silly one!!

The rest of the cast is strong.  Morena Baccarin, Karan Soni, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić, and Leslie Uggams all return from the first film and all have some fun stuff to do.  (Well, mostly. SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH.  The film makes the unfortunate choice to write out Morena Baccarin’s character early-on, which strikes me as incredibly lazy.  Attention writers:  a strong, smart, funny woman COULD have been incorporated into this film’s story!  It’s cheap and lazy, and a waste of the great Ms. Baccarin, that her character was “fridged” so quickly.  (Google “women in refrigerators” if you don’t know what I mean when I refer to that unfortunate comic book trope.) They do sort of undo this in the closing credits, so I hope that if there is a Deadpool 3, Ms. Baccarin will return and that she’ll have some agency in the story.)

The film introduces a silly version of the X-universe team X-Force, led by Deadpool, and it is fantastic.  (Also, let’s face it, the violent and supposedly “edgy” X-Force was always pretty silly in the comics, too, albeit perhaps unintentionally.)  The best new character introduced is Zazie Beetz as Domino.  She is absolutely fantastic, confident and cool and very endearing.  This is a star-making role.  (And bravo to the filmmakers for not being afraid to cast an African American actress in the role of this white comic book character.)  It’s fun to see the great Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as Bedlam; I wish he had more to do.  I love that they used the X-Force character Shatterstar, and were unafraid to mock this very silly character.  After Domino, my favorite member of the team has to be Peter, the non-powered dude played by Catastrophes Rob Delaney.  He kills every second he is on-screen!  So funny.

I was a little surprised that the first act of the film wasn’t quite as funny as I’d expected.  There’s some heavy stuff there — they try to establish some new emotional stakes for Deadpool in the sequel — which makes the film not quite the silly romp I’d been expecting.  I can understand why they went that route, but I’m not sure it was needed.  But rest assured, there are some great comedic sequences later in the film, with my two favorites being what befalls Deadpool after he gets torn in half and also the disastrous landings of the X-Force team after their parachute jump. 

Other thoughts:

* It’s tough to top the first film’s opening credits sequence, but they succeeded with this Deadpool version of a James Bond opening song.  So great.

* There is some terrific action in the film, particularly the crazy prison truck chase late in the film.

* I loved the cameo appearance of the entire X-Men team!  (Though since it’s the version from the 1980s-set X-men: Apocalypse and upcoming Dark Phoenix film, that suggests that Deadpool was also set in the eighties, which if clearly isn’t… OK, I know I’m not supposed to think about that one joke so much…)

* I also loved the cameo (which I won’t dare spoil) of the actor playing the invisible mutant.  (And I was shocked to read of the cameo in the “toilet paper” scene early in the movie — I did NOT recognize that actor!)

* The mid-credits gag is was funny as I’d heard.  (Though once we saw the girls fiddling with Cable’s time machine, I immediately jumped to the joke and had visions of an even more elaborate sequence in which Deadpool was Forrest Gumped into all of the previous X-Men movies…!!  That would have been awesome!  But the X-Men Origins: Wolverine joke we got was perfect.)

* Speaking of Wolverine, I loved the film’s opening joke, playing on the brutal ending of Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine movie Logan.

* After the great mid-credits sequence, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t anything at the end of the credits!  This is the first Marvel movie in a long, long while without an end-credits scene.  I wonder why?

* I was intrigued that they used the Juggernaut, after his previous not-great appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand (where he was played by Vinnie Jones).  I wish I could say this new version gives us a better version of the character but, well, I dunno, the Juggernaut here seems as dumb as he did in The Last Stand… and while he’s now more the correct enormous size that he should be, since he spent the whole time on-screen in his yellow prison jumpsuit, he didn’t really look like the Juggernaut from the comics.  So I call this one a draw.  (I was also a little bummed that they included Black Tom Cassidy in the film, but he didn’t share any screen time with his usual partner in the comic books, Juggernaut!  What a tease!)

* T.J. Miller’s recent troubles seem to have come to light after this movie was filmed, and so he’s in the film.  But I was surprised that he has a much smaller role than he did in the first film, and doesn’t have that much funny stuff to do.  I wonder if they edited-down his role in post-production in light of what’s been going on with him.  I strongly suspect they did.  I am OK with this.

* There were some great digs in the film at the recent very-bad DC movies, with my favorite being a joke about women named Martha that is gloriously inside baseball for the comic book geeks.  (Though not as inside as another of my favorite jokes, a reference to an artist who can’t draw feet which is an (accurate) dig at Deadpool and Cable creator Rob Liefeld!)

I’m impressed by how successful this sequel is overall.  Director David Leitch (who replaced Tim Miller, who helmed the first Deadpool film) and returning writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (and Ryan Reynolds, who also has a co-writer credit on this sequel) have crafted a great follow-up to the first film.  It’s not entirely my cup of tea — I doubt this is a film I’ll be rewatching any time soon — but I certainly enjoyed it, and I think most Deadpool uber-fans will be over the moon.  I am certainly intrigued to see if Drew Goddard’s planned X-Force film, which would expand the “Deadpool universe,” actually happens!  I’m on board.

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