Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2

Posted on May 15, 2018 at 9:04 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material
Profanity: Very strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Extended and very graphic peril and violence, many characters injured and killed, disturbing images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 18, 2018
Date Released to DVD: August 20, 2018
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2018

Wait. Don’t read any further. If you liked the first Deadpool, then go see Deadpool 2 before you read or hear any spoilers and come back here afterward to hear what I thought and share your own reactions. Oh, no, one thing before you go. No popcorn, no Twizzlers, no giant sodas for this one. Between laughing so hard you gasp for air and just gasping at some of the crazy stunts, if you try to eat or drink something as you watch, you just might choke or spill it.

Remember the first “Deadpool?” That crazy sloooow-motion opening action scene to the tune of “Angel in the Morning” with Ryan Reynolds’ deadpan Deadpool voiceover introducing us to the fourth-wall-breaking, meta-meta, winking-at-us-and-itself while-delivering on the action and a tender romance as well Marvel movie about the special forces guy turned gun for hire turned cancer patient turned science experiment turned super(anti)hero? Well, he’s back, (temporarily) blown to bits, out for revenge, and out for something a bit unexpected as well. Yes, believe Wade/Deadpool when he tells you that this is a story about family. Also butterfly-effect-free time travel, a prison break, ironic use of a classic pop song, some snark on DC (and Wolverine, of course), one of the funniest scenes ever filmed about a bad guy trying to get information from the good guy’s buddy, a bad guy played by the same actor who played Thanos but this time less CGI, a new ballad from Celine Dion, a blink and you’ll miss it cameo by one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, the guy from “Catastrophe,” the guy from “IT,” and some very persuasive evidence that the best superpower could just be….luck. And that last one would be Domino, perhaps the only superhero character whose name is not as cool as the name of the actor — Zazie Beetz, who needs her own movie, now.

Just in case you’re still with me and have not seen it yet, I’m doing my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, though I would love nothing more than telling you some of my favorite funny moments. Bad stuff happens and Wade/Deadpool seeks revenge. Then a sort of cyborg from the future with seemingly infinite very powerful weapons named Cable (Josh Brolin) shows up, Terminator-style, in search of a kid who has been abused in a “conversion” facility for mutants with special powers (Julian Dennison of “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”). Deadpool puts together a team he dubs the gender-neutral X-Force. (Speaking of dubbing, there’s a whole thing in the movie about dubstep, too.

The quips and pop culture references come at you “Airplane!”-style, faster than the bullets, meta on meta, times meta, meta about meta, breaking the fourth wall and probably the fifth, sixth, and seventh as well. “No more speaking lines for you,” DP tells one character. Instead of the director’s name in the opening credits, it just says “Killed John Wick’s dog.” (That’s David Leitch, and he did.) And yes, there is some sweetness, too, every bit as important in making this work as the wisecracking dialog and bone-cracking stunts. It does not take itself seriously, but it does take delivering a smart, funny, entertaining, and satisfying movie very seriously. With so many superhero franchises out there, it is great to see them developing sub-genres, and “Deadpool” has found the sweet spot in one of the most purely entertaining.

Parents should know that this film includes very strong, explicit, and crude language, sexual references and situations, graphic comic nudity, drinking, drugs, and extended action/superhero violence with many characters injured and killed and some disturbing images.

Family discussion: How do Wade and Cable respond differently to tragedy? What would you say to Russell? What’s the best joke in the movie?

If you like this, try: “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Posted on August 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm

C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
Profanity: Extended very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Constant peril and violence, guns, explosions, assault weapons, chases, car crashes, knives, many characters injured and killed, many disturbing bloody images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: August 18, 2017
Date Released to DVD: November 21, 2017

Copyright 2017 Summit Entertainment
If they’re not going to waste time coming up with a story, I’m not going to waste time trying to explain it. The title says it all. There’s a hitman named Darius (Samuel L. Jackson). There’s a bodyguard named Michael (Ryan Reynolds). They have a history. And they quip, shoot, and punch their merry way through a buddy-cop action comedy so generic it may have been created by algorithm. More thought went into the various set-pieces, the chases, explosions, shoot-outs, and hand-to-hand combats than into the story, something about transporting Darius to the Hague so he can testify against a dictator charged with genocide.

This may not be the moment for violent and lethal mayhem as lighthearted summer fun, including the execution of a man’s wife and child as he watches in horror. A lot of heads explode when they are hit by bullets and the fact that we don’t know most of them because they are all faceless guys in riot gear does not make a difference. So, stipulating that the premise is dumb, the plot makes no sense, the genre has been played out endlessly over the years, sometimes worse but sometimes much better, including with these two actors, and that it is especially dispiriting to see Salma Hayek wasted in a silly spitfire role, I will share a couple of thoughts about the two stars.

Ryan Reynolds: I don’t know why you would want to give this movie any more of your time, but if for some reason you sit through the very long credits (lots of locations, lots of stunts), you will see a brief extra scene that will give you an idea of what a talented professional Ryan Reynolds is. He had just one job in that shot, to have a particular facial expression that matched the expression in another scene. He was ready to go when the shooting had to be held up because loud church bells began playing nearby. We hear someone from the crew yell out that they are holding for the church bells, and we see Reynolds hold that expression and that mood as the bells keep ringing and then keep ringing some more. He keeps it together for an impressive length of time, then finally gives up, wipes his eyes, and makes a quip. But it gives you a sense that even in a silly shoot-em-up like this piece of forgettable fluff, he holds himself to the highest standard. Also, the character here is designed around his strengths. He is at his best when he is playing a decent guy who is frustrated and snarky. The script doesn’t give him much to work with — the yadda yadda about his triple A rating is especially tiresome and the romantic complications are inane. But he makes the best of it with great timing and essential decency.

Samuel L. Jackson: Lord knows, he could phone it in by now. He’s done this exact role more times than even he can count. But he brings it, snapping out every one of those MFs like he’s been waiting to do it all his life and creating a character with no help from the script. He even has to sing. One smart move made by the screenwriter is giving Darius two impediments, one emotional, one physical to make it believable that Michael could be a match for him. Kind of like in “Batman vs. Superman,” when they had to kryptonite-ize Superman but not too much to make it an even fight.

Someday, when this movie comes on cable, just check it out long enough to see not why we pay these guys the big bucks but why they’re worth it.

Parents should know that this film includes constant peril and violence with chases, explosions, shoot-outs, assault weapons, knives, various other weapons, many characters injured and killed, graphic and disturbing images including bloody wounds and heads exploding, very strong language, drinking, drugs, brief nudity, and a brief glimpse of a prostitute.

Family discussion: Who was right about what makes a bad guy? Why was it hard for Michael to believe Amelia?

If you like this, try: “Midnight Run,” “Mr. Right,” “Die Hard with a Vengeance”

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Deadpool

Deadpool

Posted on February 8, 2016 at 3:58 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity
Profanity: Constant very strong and crude language and sexual references
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, scenes in bar, medical torture
Violence/ Scariness: Intense comic book action violence with many characters injured and killed, some disturbing and graphic images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: February 12, 2016
Date Released to DVD: May 9, 2016
Amazon.com ASIN: B01BLS9E2Y
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2016
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2016

Frankly, exuberantly nasty — in the nicest possible way, Deadpool is not your father’s superhero. That is, unless your father is more like “Who’s your daddy?” all snarky wisecracks, 90’s pop culture references, and joyous mayhem.

Deadpool is the po-mo superhero, so self-aware he knows he’s in a comic book, or now, a movie. A riotously funny opening shot takes us in exquisite slow-motion through an in medias res freeze frame that teases and reveals where we are — not just geographically and narratively but the world we are in. Suspended in air are elements of violence and chaos and also a copy of the Sexiest Man Alive People Magazine with Deadpool portrayer Ryan Reynolds on the cover. Oh, and the song on the soundtrack is not the kind superhero fanfare we might expect. It’s the syrupy “Angel in the Morning.”

And then we see the opening credits. Instead of the actual names of the people on and off screen we get their descriptions, telling us that the filmmakers will both meet and subvert our expectations for a comic book movie. We will see: God’s fool, a moody teen, a wisecracking sidekick, a British villain, a CGI character, and a gratuitous cameo. And the movie is produced by “asshats,” directed by “a stupid tool,” and written by — the real heroes of the film (there are some benefits to having final say on the script).

A big, crazy battle on a bridge is underway but Deadpool pauses to tell us his story, starting with a very crude reference to another comic book hero to explain how he got his own movie, and then taking us back to his pre-superhero days, when he was just Wade after his days in Special Forces, when he was an Equalizer-style hired gun with a very bad attitude.

A bunch of bad attitude types congregate at a bar run by Weasel (T.J. Miller), the closest thing to a friend Wade has, which doesn’t keep him from betting on Wade in the “dead pool,” a running tally of odds on which of the colorful, trigger-happy local denizens will die first. Wade meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin of “Gotham”), who speaks his language — tough, twisted, and funny. Their one-upsmanship on who had the worst childhood is topped by a hilarious montage of holiday and season-related sexual situations. As Wade tells Vanessa, they are two jigsaw puzzle pieces who don’t fit in anywhere else but fit together just right.

But then Wade gets Stage 4 cancer. It seems hopeless until a man approaches him with the possibility of a cure that will make him better than before. Ajax (Ed Skrein) has a mad-scientist lab/hospital that tortures people until they either die or mutate into superheroes. Wade comes out of the process invulnerable, strong, covered with burn-like scars, and very, very angry.

First time director Tim Miller has a background in animation and special effects, and it pays off in his handling of the action sequences, which would be enough to sustain a lesser comic-book film on their own. But what he really captures here is the charm of the anti-hero who spouts off a kaleidoscope of 90’s pop culture references fit for a crit lit symposium panel as he skewers the bad guys (often literally), mashes on his elderly blind roommate (Leslie Uggams! Thank you!), and is genuinely sweet with Vanessa. This is a great fit for Ryan Reynolds, who, People Magazine notwithstanding, is best when he is not trying to be conventionally heroic (no more mention of Green Lantern, please, ever, and the same goes for romantic comedies like “Just Friends”). He is better when he’s bitter. And certainly much more fun for us.

Parents should know that this movie has extensive comic-book style violence, including torture, with graphic and disturbing images. Characters use very strong and crude language and there are vulgar sexual references and explicit situations, along with references to drug use.

Family discussion: What makes Deadpool an anti-hero? When is he willing to accept help from others?

If you like this, try: the X-Men and Avengers movies and “Guardians of the Galaxy”

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