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Deadpool (Blu-ray Review)

12 May, 2016 By: John Latchem

$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Box office $362.29 million
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
Stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams.

Score one for the fans.

In the wake of harsh audience response to the bastardization of the Deadpool character in 2009’s disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the studio seemed tepid about the idea of moving forward with a solo film about the fan-favorite antihero. It wasn’t until test footage of one of the action scenes leaked onto the Internet was met with such overwhelming enthusiasm that Fox finally relented to the will of the fanboys and let the project proceed, with Ryan Reynolds producing and reprising the role after Origins.

Reynolds and the creative team, including director Tim Miller, were determined to present the character as a faithful representation of the comic book version, a mercenary assassin with a penchant for quips and talking directly to the audience. The script, which preserves all of Deadpool’s best-known comic traits, was apparently written six years ago and only underwent minor updates in the conversion to the big screen.

Deadpool was originally created in the early 1990s as a spoof on several characters that were popular at the time, most notably Wolverine. In the comics, Deadpool was part of the same experimental program that created Wolverine, and both characters have similar healing abilities that make them practically immortal, though Deadpool was left horribly scarred by the experience. Co-creator Rob Liefeld, in discussing the character in this Blu-ray’s excellent bonus materials, said he was partially inspired by the movie Twins, with Wolverine as the stuffy Arnold Schwarzenegger type and Deadpool in the Danny DeVito role.

And that’s exactly the tone this movie embraces, declaring itself right off the bat with opening credits that eviscerate the cast and crew.

The film settles in as a spoof of superhero movies, with Deadpool completely aware that he’s a fictional character despite sharing a setting with the rest of the “X-Men” cinematic universe. There is no trope of the genre that this film considers off limits as it recounts Deadpool’s origins and sets him off on a quest for revenge against the people who disfigured him and separated him from his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin). However, even as he’s ruthlessly plows through the bad guys, he still has the courtesy to turn the camera away from his more-gruesome actions, and such brutality doesn't stop the filmmakers from bragging that the film is an effective love story as well.

Because of the irreverence of the title character and his constant breaking of the fourth wall, the film serves as both an exciting action film and a hilarious comedy. Just as the comics find parallels between Deadpool and Wolverine, the film cleverly contrasts the careers of Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman (the movie Wolverine), providing one of the movie’s best running gags. Also be on the lookout for Easter eggs and sly references to other superhero movies — there’s a reason the final battle takes place on what looks like a wrecked Avengers helicarrier (even if no one will officially admit that’s what it’s supposed to be).

The film is so committed to being meta that director Miller admits during his commentary track (a fun discussion with Liefeld about how the character translates to the screen) that he wanted the end credits to be the "Honest Trailer" of the film. (As it turns out, the inevitable Honest Trailer did feature a guest appearance by Deadpool.)

If there’s a downside, it’s that much of the humor depends on shock value because the film is showing you something you wouldn’t expect from a comic book movie. As such, without that aspect in play on subsequent viewings, the movie seems more like a conventional superhero origin story.

Still, Fox deserves a lot of credit in leaving the filmmakers to do their thing, even as the movie bashes the studio for its previous creative choices and its low-end budget for this one. Deadpool ended up earning north of $762 million worldwide on a budget of $58 million. For some perspective, the previous “X-Men” movie, Days of Future Past, earned $233.9 million domestically and $747.9 million globally on a budget of $200 million.

The enormous fan response was driven not only by how fun the movie is (even for the limitations of an ‘R’ rating in terms of audience access), but also a brilliant marketing campaign that set the character loose upon mainstream pop culture. The Blu-ray includes about 23 minutes of commercials, trailers and viral videos that showcase this effort.

The jam-packed, fan-friendly Blu-ray also includes 19 minutes of extended and deleted scenes (one of which references a prison called The Raft, which is also the name of the mega-prison in Captain America: Civil War).

Other goodies include a six-minute gag reel; a gallery of concept art, storyboards and other production elements; and “From Comics to Screen … To Screen,” a five-part documentary totaling 80 minutes, which traces the history of the character from the comics through the making of this film.

There’s also a second commentary with Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (imagine that — two commentaries on a movie when a lot of discs nowadays don’t even bother with one). Both the commentaries offer a lot of perspectives and insight on the making of the film.

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