So we’ve ended up going on a bit of a catchup bender over the weekend (and past week) due to the atrocious weather and intermittent plans. As a result, I’ve caught up a weird mixture of films that had passed on by:
Where the hell to start with Deadpool? I think its best to say that if you loved the trailer and would be happy to watch another hour and a half of that trailer, you’ll enjoy this film. The action sequences are exceptional and the cast (Ryan Reynolds in particular) have definitely spent time getting to know this particularly odd-ball super “hero”, which comes through in both the humour and (constant) easter eggs. Personally, I was hoping for something a little more. Deadpool is anachronistic, immature and eternally comic but ultimately his humour and best writing are when he not just acknowledges his “meta” ness but fully grasps it. Fourth wall breaks are great, but the film was lacking that second beat provided for in the comics by the other voices in his head, that beat that questions why a superhero should behave in that manner or why the writer intended this outcome. That self doubt and narcissism was present, but lacked the nuance that great writers can bring to the character, which was a shame.
And then there was Colossus. I get including the Russian metal-man, he is a big part of the Deadpool comics and a constant friend/foe of the titular character, but turning him into a walking caricature felt cheap. Yes, he is sometimes written that way in Deadpool comics, but that’s because those comics are often written from Deadpool’s perspective and to the mercenary Colossus is a simple, 2-D man or morality and brute strength, lacking complexity or intelligence. However, Petyr Rasputin is exceedingly complex and a very strong character in the X-Men’s roster and, if the film was going for the “Deadpool-eye view” perspective it was not clear at any point.
Ultimately though, I enjoyed Deadpool. It wasn’t everything I had hoped it to be, but it was much better than a Hollywood adaptation of ol’red’n’black’n’shiny has any right to be.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Definitely a weird film and a complete juxtaposition to Deadpool. Where the merc with a mouth’s flick had been perfectly encapsulated in the respective trailer, Walter Mitty‘s marketing team were obviously not reading from the same language, let alone textbook, as the rest of the creative crew surrounding its production. Possibly the studio felt that a feel-good film focusing on the drudgery of modern day life and a single, dull and middle-aged mans “slice of life” journey were not particularly marketable, especially to Ben Stiller’s normal audience, but they really did this wonderful film a major disservice in the outlining of the trailer and posters. I was expecting a Bedtime Stories-esque serious of self contained sequences and homages, taking place in the titular characters mind, with a loosely interweaving subplot taking place in “reality” with some ambiguous or played-out moral at the end. What I got was Wes Anderson film without any of the decade or so of baggage that Anderson has to bring to every film to appease his rabid fans.
There were clear moments of “what the fuck did I just watch” and I still have the feeling that if all of the daydream sequences were cut out the film wouldn’t really lose anything, but ultimately this was a heart warming story with some brilliant and distinctive cinematography throughout. The Benjamin Button parody should have been cut out of the reel and dropped into one of the Icelandic volcanoes the crew visited, but jarring pop-culture references aside I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was quirky and off-beat but the characters were wonderfully portrayed and had real heart; Ben Stiller was wonderful, with a clear transition from misfit loner through to adventurous and confident leader that never really felt out of character and the surrounding cast slotted in exceedingly well. Particularly moments with Sean Penn’s character were heavily reminiscent of films like The Life Aquatic, but also somehow more relatable. I would definitely recommend giving this film a watch, I imagine I’ll come back to it several times over the years.
I have yet to see a film in which Simon Pegg failed to live up to expectations and Man Up has distinctly continued this trend. After initial worries (the first fifteen minutes or so are a little cringe inducing) both Pegg and costar Lake Bell sold me wholeheartedly on their relationships and refreshingly different “rom-com” characters. As with Walter Mitty, the main characters had certain quirks dialed up to 10, however the interactions with the surrounding cast (sometimes caricatured but always fleshed out) sealed their characters as distinctly relatable and believable people, something I think could have gone very wrong in this instance. The script and storyline are definitely atypical for a rom-com and distinctly British in humour and detail, which was frankly wonderful.
Again, there are definitely some parts that could have been toned down or tweaked a little, but overall I enjoyed myself, had a few laughs and got a the requisite amount of warm fuzzies from the conclusion as I would expect from this genre. Plus, Ken Stott being an affable and perpetually slightly merry father figure – enough said.