Review: ‘Deadpool’

Review: ‘Deadpool’

It is hard to imagine a superhero movie that does not cater to the largest possible audience, a movie that has something for everyone. Yet, on Valentine’s Day, “Deadpool” was released under an R-rating with large amounts of graphic violence, a lot of nudity and a sex montage.

For some background, Deadpool, Wade Wilson, is a Marvel Comics character created in the 1990s by Rob Liefeld. Deadpool is an anti-hero who does not shy away from killing people, not just bad guys because he is a mercenary for the most part. He does work closely with the X-Men when he decides to be more heroic. However, Deadpool is most famous for his ability to realize that he is a fictional character and to talk directly to the reader or viewer. Because of this, Deadpool tends to reference pop culture and crack jokes. He also tends to be very vulgar.

The film is an almost perfect replication of the comics that the character appears in. The filmmaker and writers do not pull any punches in fully utilizing the R-rating of the film to allow the character to accurately be translated from the comic to the big screen. The dialogue is full of sexual jokes and the F-word is thrown around from the very beginning of the movie. While the movie is less than two hours in run time, the movie does not let up at all, packing as many of the jokes, winks to the audience and well-choreographed fight scenes. The pacing of the movie is especially impressive considering that there are several flashbacks during a very long fight scene.

Ryan Reynolds, who plays Deadpool, plays the character perfectly. His comedic timing as the character is amazing throughout the entire movie. He captures the fourth wall-breaking (he talks directly to the audience), near-insanity of the character perfectly, which allows for him to commit murders and still have us root for him. His love for the character shines through his portrayal of the character, and he lights up every scene that he is in, even before he has the red suit on.

The other performances in the movie are okay, the only other performance of note was from Morena Baccarin, who will be a familiar face to the fans of “Firefly.” In the movie, she plays the love interest of Wade Wilson, Vanessa. But instead of being a damsel in distress, though she does get kidnapped, she puts up a fight for the record. The best thing about Baccarin in the film is the chemistry that she has with Reynolds. In fact, with a movie about a character who kills people and is completely insane, Baccarin’s presence in the film allows for an honestly touching love sub-plot.

Surprisingly, “Deadpool” is not only one the funniest movies to come out in a long time, but in an hour and forty minutes it became one of the best superhero movies that has been released. The comedy, action and even the romance make the movie completely enjoyable. Just don’t bring your kids.

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Review: ‘Jessica Jones’

Review: ‘Jessica Jones’

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Since the superhero movie came into prominence with films such as “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” there has been a push to make the heroes that were once godly, more human. Give them flaws, and make the movies more gritty and realistic. Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy did that, and Marvel for the most part still made their superhero movies light-hearted, at least when compared to the Batman movies.

As more movies were made, especially by Marvel, they started to combine genres. “The Winter Soldier” was part superhero and part political thriller, but it was still family friendly. Then, Netflix teamed up with Marvel and made “Daredevil.”

Similar to the comics about the character, the “Daredevil” show was dark, gritty and met with very high praise. However, “Daredevil” was the start of something bigger: a street level hero project similar to The Avengers. The second show was released one week before Thanksgiving, called “Jessica Jones.”

“Jessica Jones,” like “Daredevil,” is very dark. However, unlike “Daredevil,” it is even more adult. This tone is because the show is about a former superhero who decides to quit the hero business because of her dark and broken past.

Jones becomes a private investigator so that she can still help people. The fact that she is a private investigator lends the series (13 episodes in all) to being part superhero and part noir. Just like the private investigators in classic film noir stories, and even some modern ones. Jones is a hard-drinking loner, who makes wise-cracks at inappropriate moments. The story begins with her taking a case that soon begins to involve the person that broke her in the past. Jones not only hides a dark past from those around her, but also suffers from PTSD, a result of her traumatic past. This plays an important role in her journey to find answers.

Krysten Ritter plays Jones. She not only excels at showing Jones’ witty, hard-drinking side, but her broken side as well. As Jones deals with the case, and the reemergence of her enemy, her past comes back to haunt her and she is forced to deal with more than she can handle. Through it all, Ritter manages to balance the tough exterior that Jones has created to hide the very broken individual.

The supporting cast of the show is not as strong as it was with “Daredevil,” but the cast is still very great. Besides Ritter, the standout performance definitely comes from “Doctor Who” alumni David Tennant.

Tennant plays Kilgrave, the villain for the season who has ties to Jones’ past. Unlike his counterpart in the comics, known as “Purple Man” who is a complete sociopath with no redeeming qualities, Tennant’s character Kilgrave is not played as someone who is completely irredeemable and fleshed out more than he is in the Alias comic series that the show is loosely based on.

The other supporting characters are portrayed with varying degrees of success. Mike Colter’s performance as Luke Cage, the next hero of Hell’s Kitchen to get a show and an important person in the life of Jones, was a disappointment, especially when he was in a scene with Ritter.

All of these things considered, Marvel hit this one out of the park. The show is full of emotion, mystery and style. With more focus on the characters and the effects that tragic events can have on a person’s life, Marvel has created a superhero show that even people who don’t like superheroes can enjoy. People who do like superheroes will enjoy the unique tone that is offered by the show.

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Movie Review: Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro’s not so terrifying tale

Movie Review: Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro’s not so terrifying tale

I don’t like to be scared, but when Guillermo del Toro released a new horror movie, it was hard to resist going to see it.

Del Toro’s movies, such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Pacific Rim”, are always beautiful to look at, fun to watch and usually very creative.

“Crimson Peak” looked like it might be a creepy look at horror films of the past, as the trailers did not show the modern tricks that cause jump scares. However, not having any expectations—other than the movie would be very pretty and well-designed—was good because the movie wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either.

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The film follows up-and-coming writer Edith Cushing, who is played by Mia Wasikowska, of “Alice in Wonderland” fame. As viewers learn at the beginning of the film, which takes place in the early 1900s, Cushing can see ghosts. She tries to publish a manuscript containing a ghost story but is turned down by publishers because it is handwritten, and they can tell that it was written by a woman. The manuscript gets the attention of a man trying to get money to rebuild his clay mining operation: Sir Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston.

Eventually the two marry, despite Sharpe’s wicked-looking sister’s objections, and move to Sharpe’s decrepit English mansion, which lies on top of the scarlet clay mine. Once they move in, the ghosts start to appear and Cushing starts to feel sick; then the hunt for the truth begins.

From the very first frame of the film, del Toro’s skill as a set designer and visual director shine, as we see a coffin carried to the front of a giant and elaborate headstone. Throughout the movie, the designs of the ghosts—which look like opaque skeletons of varying colors, depending on where they were killed—and the house where the characters live are amazings spectacles. Many parts of the house have liquid clay running from the wall, and because the clay is red, it looks like blood. Everything about the house is unnerving yet alluring at the same time.

There is not a moment in the film where there isn’t something nice to look at in the scenery or sets. Del Toro does not shy away from the creepy visuals either, but that is just what the film is. It’s creepy, not scary.

The only point in the film that would be very scary comes in the first half of the movie, but once the characters move to the mansion, the ghosts turn into something very different than expected: messengers for what’s to come.

The characters in the film were very one dimensional. If viewers have seen a movie in the last 10 years, they could probably predict what each character was going to do next. Sharpe’s sister was onscreen for maybe four seconds before I felt I knew everything there was to know about her character. The same goes for many of the characters in the film. The two main characters, Cushing and Sharpe, go through minimal character development in the film, and it’s not enough to make them interesting beyond the fact that one of them is played by Hiddleston.

One of the big issues with this movie was outside the theatre. It was advertised as a horror movie, which misinformed the viewing public. “Crimson Peak” is a classic Gothic romance, which may be hard to swallow for the people who were influenced to buy a ticket because of the deceiving trailer.

The movie is creepy the entire run time, but there is not a big scare anywhere, which is something that the old Gothic romances do quite well. There is an excellent love story between Cushing and Sharpe. The film brought to mind several different stories and novels from the era of Edgar Allen Poe, though naming them could spoil the movie, so none will be named. Those looking for a straight-up horror movie will not be pleased with this one.

At the end of the day, “Crimson Peak” will probably be divisive if you go with a group of friends. Some of them will really like it, especially if they are fans of Gothic literature, some of them will hate it because they were expecting something scarier, and some will be left with mixed feelings.

If you want to catch this crimson tale, be sure you know what you want to get out of it. In the end, don’t go because you think it will be frightening—the visuals will thrill you, but the scares will not.

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Movie Review: The Martian

Movie Review: The Martian

It’s been a while since the theaters have shown something that didn’t involve superheroes, Sherlock Holmes or reanimated dinosaurs. “The Martian” qualifies as science fiction because it takes place in a world where we can put a team of people on Mars, but it tends to be realistic (or realistic enough that Neil deGrasse Tyson said on “CBS This Morning” that it’s pretty accurate). Going into the movie, I didn’t really have any expectations, and because of that I was blown away with how good it was.martian400

In the film, the astronauts are on Mars on a scientific mission. It is never really explained fully why they are on Mars, although we do see some of the characters collecting soil samples. There really is not any time wasted on the details of why they are there, because within 15 minutes of the movie starting, the astronauts are forced to abandon their mission due to a storm. After they start preparing to leave, the movie wastes no time in stranding Mark Watney, played impeccably by Matt Damon, on Mars by himself.

Not only is the writing of Damon’s character enjoyable, but how Damon plays him as a snarky character who seems to keep his sanity by quipping to a computer monitor. Damon manages to keep the interest of the audience even when he is alone on the planet for a majority of the run time of the film.

When we are not with Watney on Mars, we get to spend time with the people who are trying to get him home. The cast of the movie as a whole is amazing and packed with familiar faces. Watney’s crew alone has three people who have been in recent superhero movies (Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña and Kate Mara), and the team at NASA has Donald Glover, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean. Each member of this all-star cast is giving their best performance, and no one feels out of place. But it is indisputable that Damon gives the stand-out performance.

The special effects used in the film are top notch. All of the shots of the landscape of Mars look very real and are extremely beautiful. Everything in the film looks very familiar, and even realistic when you consider the technology that we have now. This helped the movie feel much more dramatic—because we, as a viewing public, know all too well that everything can go wrong with space travel. With this in mind, the filmmakers play on our emotions.

“The Martian” was a very intense movie. Even when Damon’s character is snarking in a video diary, there is always the feeling that something could go wrong at any moment. That feeling just keeps growing throughout the movie. As a whole, the tense vibe aids the movie in creating a literal edge-of-your-seat thriller.

To be completely honest, it was difficult to find anything wrong with “The Martian.” The pacing was perfect, the acting was top notch and the music was perfect in capturing the mood. The jokes in the film work because they tend to be on the dark humor side of the comedy spectrum, and this does not take anything away from the movie.
The only complaint most viewers will have is a minor one: the run time. While the movie does not drag during its two and a half hour run time, it’s still very long. However, if the that is the only issue, then maybe there isn’t really anything to complain about at all.

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Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

In the wake of The Avengers, the X-Men franchise needed to release a movie that showed there was still some life in the team—besides the usual focus on Wolverine.

X-Men First Class, the franchise’s last effort was enjoyable. However, X-Men movies were few and far between since the wildly successful Avengers franchise was introduced in 2011. The only X-Men-related film released during that time was The Wolverine, which didn’t breathe new life into any role except Hugh Jackman’s character.

Thankfully, the newest X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, proves not only does the lasting life of the franchise still have life, but that Marvel films besides The Avengers can still be quality and enjoyable.

In the film, future, mutant hunting robots called Sentinels have taken over the world, and the last surviving X-Men need to send someone back in time to stop the event that caused the rise of the robots.

Before you say that you’ve seen the robots taking over the future plot over and over, it should be brought up that the movie is based on a comic book of the same name that came out before both the Matrix and Terminator. Also, a bulk of the movie takes place in 1973, so the war in the future is not main focus of the story, but provides a sense of urgency for the past X-Men to succeed in their mission.

The X-Men from the First Class were not overshadowed by the attention-grabbing charisma that is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. That was something that was never achieved in the original X-Men trilogy—even though the movies were called “X-Men,” all of the movies were really about Wolverine. All the X-Men from the First Class manage to stand out, and show that the future of the franchise might not rest solely on everyone’s favorite razor-clawed mutant.

Because of this, we get an X-Men movie that is, in fact, about the X-Men!

While on the topic of overshadowing mutants, there is one mutant who outshines everyone else, even though he is only in the film for 20 minutes, tops. This would be Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters.

The character is introduced to help the X-Men (a time-traveling Wolverine, Beast, and Professor X) rescue Magneto. Peters plays the character as a fast-talking, kleptomaniacal teen, and in the short time he is on screen manages to steal the entire show.

The now well-known “Time in a Bottle” scene that shows us what it’s like to move as fast as Quicksilver and is easily the best scene in the entire movie. It’s worth the price of a ticket or DVD on its own. Hopefully Quicksilver will return in future movies and have a larger role, because when he leaves the film it feels like he wasn’t there long enough.

As good as some parts of the movie were, there were still some problems. The biggest issue was that in the future, Magneto said that Wolverine would need his help on his mission in the past, but once they get Magneto, he almost immediately proceeds to screw everything up.

Was this because Future Magneto is still evil? Because it doesn’t look like it at the end. There was no explanation for this, but I think that Jennifer Lawrence’s star power might be the reason for the lack of focus on Magneto and the new focus on Mystique.

Another issue was the introduction of four entirely new mutants in the future, who have no character development at all. The mutants have several well-executed fight sequences, but we know nothing about these characters besides that they are the last of the X-Men.

Hopefully some of the mutants will return in future movies, because they all deserve at least a little character development. However, at least they are named in this movie, which is better than what happened to most of the mutants introduced in the other films, especially in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The way Beast is treated in the film is also an issue. He still looks human, with the help of a serum he created in the last movie to hide his powers, but when he gets mad he turns into a monster with super strength. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? At least he doesn’t say he’s going to smash anything.

There are a few other nitpicky things—like Kitty’s surprising new power to send people back in time that no one bothers to explain how she got or why she has, and a severe underuse of Peter Dinklage—but these are just minor problems with a movie that is in general of very high quality.

I really enjoyed the movie, and I appreciated the fact that it went back and fixed the mistakes that the franchise made in the past without rebooting the entire thing. And even though I still love some Wolverine, it was nice to see an X-Men movie that focused on the other mutants in the X-Men universe.

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