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With: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic (voice), Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano
Written by: Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Directed by: Tim Miller
MPAA Rating:
Running Time: 108
Date: 02/12/2016

Deadpool (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Playing It 'Pool'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The character of Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, previously appeared in the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), but you'd be forgiven for not remembering him.

That movie was a lifeless, factory-produced superhero product, a business decision rather than a creative one. Opening today in Bay Area theaters, the new Deadpool, which elevates the character to leading man status, is the opposite. It's playful, irreverent, and loads of fun.

Deadpool opens with hilarious credits. Rather than actual names, we get types, like "a British villain" and "a CGI character."

These roll over a brilliant 3D freeze-frame action moment, a car crash in progress. As the camera swoops in and around it, the mystery ("what the heck is going on?") culminates in a big laugh and a big cheer.

Deadpool is a wisecracking lone wolf who would rather kill bad guys than bother with arresting them. Technically a mutant, he has awesome healing powers and amazing fighting abilities, but his skin is a twisted, scarred fright.

He can't show his face in public, and he feels that he must hide from his loving girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, from TV's Firefly).

The plot, basically, has Deadpool seeking vengeance upon the man (Ed Skrein) who made him this way; there's a recurring joke about the villain's name, better left unsaid.

Two X-Men try to help. There's the steel-skinned Russian, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), and his teen apprentice (Brianna Hildebrand), whose name is also better left unsaid.

Deadpool's costume (red, to hide blood stains) completely covers his face and eyes, but Reynolds springs him to life with energetic quips and jokes and cartoon-like movements.

As in the comics, the character breaks the fourth wall. Speaking directly to the audience, he tells his origin story in pieces, sprinkled throughout the actual story; it's a refreshing way to fill in the blanks without large chunks of dull exposition. This movie is aware of all the cliches and tries to subvert them.

Director Tim Miller — who received an Oscar nomination for the animated short Gopher Broke (2004) — gets credit for turning in one of the shorter superhero movies (108 minutes), and allowing for an "R" rating.

Deadpool is streamlined and fast-paced, although the action scenes are a little jumpy; the excellent choreography could have been more smoothly shot. And, to be frank, the high-energy dialogue can feel tiresome in the final stretch; the pace is sometimes exhausting.

But, as with Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Iron Man, Deadpool seems less interested in creating a consuming cinematic legacy or saga than it is in vivid characters and cheerful fun.

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