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Deadpool: Marvel Antihero Finally Finds His Place on the Big Screen
First things first; we all know that Deadpool is no family film. Nor is it your everyday Marvel Comic's adaptation. It is, in fact, every bit as a gutsy, cheeky and an incredibly fun as you'd imagined, but it's also a film that, when stripped down to the bare bones, deals with the basic idea of an antihero better than most.
Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a skilled and potty-mouthed gun-for-hire who meets and forms a connection with strip-club waitress, Vanessa Carlysle (Baccarin). However, the fairytale romance hits a wall before it's even really begun when Wade is diagnosed with a cancer that has spread to his liver, lungs, prostate and brain. As is usually the case with this kind of set-up, our protagonist finds a potential way out through an experimental procedure operated by a shadowy group which will not only cure his cancer, but help tap further into his abilities. Wade is left permanently disfigured as a result and distances himself from Vanessa as he embarks on a journey of revenge against those that wronged him.
Driven by a sense of impudence, wit and profanity for the sake of profanity, Deadpool takes full advantage of its R-rating with an enormous amount of filthy jokes, dirty-one-liners, bloody acts of violence and even a number of raunchy scenes – the latter of which Cairo film goers will not see in cinemas.
Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, those who are familiar with the comic-book version of the Deadpool will appreciate the fact the director Tim Miller has managed to stay as true to the character as possible, while building the film on an endless stream of pop culture references and self-referential humour – we often find Deadpool breaking the fourth wall to make a wise-crack comment, for example.
Having played Deadpool in the badly-received and generally troubled X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in 2009, Reynolds is as committed to his role as he ever has been and any doubts about him being the man to fill Deadpool's very big shoes have, not just been cleared up, but absolutely obliterated, while Homeland's Morena Baccarin proves to be a good on-screen match as Vanessa.
Deadpool is not completely flawless, though; while appearances of visiting X-Men, Colosus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, link the film to the series and adds a fun element that will be appreciated most by Marvel fans, the supporting players seem interchangeable, including the villains of the piece. Ajax (Skrein) and Angel Dust (Carano) are generic antagonists that at no time every really feel like a match for our hero. More importanly, the storyline is a little too formulaic and boils down to very basic take on an origin story, while the fact that it is so heavy on pop references means that it almost certainly won't age well. At the same time, however, it's set the bar for the many, many, many superhero films to come in 2016.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
As an exploration of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military, Dito Montiel’s Man Down is a muddled story that’s pretty challenging to sit through. Though on paper there’s plenty of potential depth in this particular effect of war – and a solid cast at its disposable – the film descends into military-movie clichés, while not really keeping up with its complex set-up.
The movie to take place over four separate time periods and opens with U.S Marine Gabriel Drummer (LeBeouf) and his military buddy, Devin Roberts (Courtney), making their way through a vast and seemingly wasted American landscape which appears to have been destroyed by a chemical attack. On the look-out for survivors, the pair is hoping to find Drummer’s son, Jonathan (Shotwell), whom he believes has been kidnapped.
Before the audience gets a chance to find out what is really going in, the story flashes back to another time period where a seemingly distraught Drummer is being interviewed by Counselor Peyton (Oldman) about an ‘incident’ that occurred on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Moving on to yet to another period, we also get to see the story of Drummer and Roberts during their Marine Corps training at Camp Lejeune before, eventually, cutting to the story of Drummer’s life at home with wife, Natalie (Mara) and their son.
Taking on several narrative threads without really knowing where to take them, let alone how to put them back together, is one of Man Down’s major issues. Used to give some kind of visual interpretation of PTSD, the movie’s choppy editing is ineffective and comes across as a messy, superficial tool.
Clocking in at precisely ninety minutes, Man Down is a relatively short film but, thanks to the overworked script and slow pace, it takes forever for any of the stories to build into something bigger.
Working its way through a series of military clichés, the story works best when it is focused on digging into Drummer’s fractured mind, with the conversation between him and his counsellor – played by the seemingly wasted talent of one Gary Oldman – serving to be one of the movie’s best elements. LeBeouf is convincing as a troubled soldier desperately trying not to sink deeper into madness and his commitment to the role is commendable, making it all that more frustrating to see that the script itself is so lacking.