Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews: Deadpool and Zoolander 2

Ryan Reynolds in a delirious superhero outing, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in a losing search for laughs.

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Deadpool

Deadpool is a hard-R take on the Marvel superhero movie. The picture is dizzyingly scabrous, borderline offensive (all right!), and wonderfully refreshing. In telling the story of Wade Wilson, an ex-Special Forces mercenary transformed by mutant surgery into the mentally unstable Deadpool, the movie exults in blood and brutality and sexy-time interludes of a sort that the Avengers, let's say, would surely find distasteful. (Although Marvel, which produced the film, is of course in on it all.)

The picture is a long-time-coming bust-out for Ryan Reynolds, who also played Deadpool as a subsidiary character in the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But forget that. Reynolds, who pushed for more than a decade to get the picture made, is fearlessly committed to the red-suited nutcase of the comics, and he fuels the movie with a delirious spew of weisenheimer one-liners. (He knows you're wondering, so he punches through the fourth wall to crack, "Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my own movie?")

The story, extracted from 25 years of Deadpool comic-book adventures, is the pungent work of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who also wrote Zombieland and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. They establish Wilson as a New York-based hard-case hanging out at Sister Margaret's Home for Wayward Girls—a grotty biker bar run by Wade's deadpan pal Weasel (T.J. Miller). There he meets and falls in lust with a prostitute named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, of TV's Gotham, V, and Firefly), and after a giddy montage of bedroom calesthenics, they fall in love. But then Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He's offered an experimental cure from a shadowy Brit named Francis (Ed Skrein)—better-known in supervillain circles as Ajax. The treatment this creep administers—with the help of sub-villain Angel Dust (ex-MMA champ Gina Carano)—is indistinguishable from torture, and the scenes in which we see it being applied to Wade go on too long. (In this aspect, the movie recalls Kick-Ass, another hilarious comic-book flick whose laughs were nearly swamped by a one-scene surfeit of ultra-violence.)

The Ajax cancer cure works, but it stir-fries Wade's brain and melts down his face. ("I look like a testicle with teeth," he grumps.) It also turns him into a super-warrior capable of healing his own wounds and regenerating amputated limbs. Masking his maimed head and donning a supersuit with matched katanas sheathed across its back, he sets out in pursuit of Ajax, and is soon joined by two emissaries from the X-Men: a metal giant named Colossus (voiced by Stefan Capicic) and a flame-throwing goth chick called Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). They of course prove helpful.

First-time director Tim Miller, best-known as a visual-effects artist, stages some spectacular (if over-extended) stunt and demolition work; and Reynolds—so long tethered on the brink of full stardom—gives a furiously athletic performance, kicking heads and ventilating opponents while firing off a continuous barrage of sick one-liners, many of them meta. Other characters also chime in. When Wade announces his new superhero name, one of them instantly approves: "That sounds like a fuckin' franchise!" he yelps. It does, doesn't it?   

Zoolander

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 asks the question, "Why was this movie made?" The answer is not forthcoming.

The original Zoolander, released 15 years ago, was a box-office fizzle that found favor on home video. This entirely unnecessary sequel, arriving on a tsunami of desperate promotion and hopefully timed to the opening of New York Fashion Week, is likely to baffle onetime fans and put everybody else to sleep.

The movie's rag-trade satire is exhausted by now, and gets only a minimal nod here in any case. The picture has instead been expensively shot like an international thriller along the lines of a Bond or a Bourne film—although there are no thrills, and very few laughs to compensate. The story—something about a plot to kill off the world's pop stars (Justin Bieber gets shot dead right at the beginning) and a sinister misuse of the Fountain of Youth—is a hopeless muddle; and the overload of random-celebrity cameos (Willie Nelson, Neil deGrasse Tyson—M.C. Hammer!) is pure eye-glaze.

Director Ben Stiller returns to the role of clueless male model Derek Zoolander, this time teamed up with his onetime runway rival Hansel (Owen Wilson, still in full pout). Currently consigned to the fashion-biz sidelines, they fly to Rome to attempt a relaunch of their careers. This naturally fails—possibly because they strut their stuff wearing stickers that read "Old" and "Lame." "We were a total laughing stick," Derek whines.

Penélope Cruz turns up as an agent of the Interpol fashion police, seeking this dimwit duo's help with the pop-star death wave and gamely weathering some inevitable boob jokes. ("She's hot, I trust her," Derek says, getting off a good one.) Derek is reunited with his long-missing son (Cyrus Arnold), and is shocked to find him disgracing the family name by being fat. On a visit to an Interpol fashion prison, Derek accidentally enables the escape of the evil couture mogul Mugatu (Will Ferrell once again). Susan Sarandon flits through the proceedings, as do Katy Perry, Susan Boyle, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who for some reason also volunteered to embarrass herself in this mess.

Not every attempt at amusement tanks. Fred Armisen, playing a digitized midget, has a funny minute or so of screen time; Kristen Wiig, unrecognizable under an impasto of prosthetic makeup, sustains a wicked riff on the egregious Donatella Versace; and Sting does everything he can with the role of a priest who dispenses expiation and exposition in equal measure. Even Stiller and Wilson elicit a few chuckles with their familiar buddy shtick. The movie's biggest joke, however, may turn out to be on the studio execs who fronted the money for this limp, dispiriting flameout.

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  1. Boycott ‘Zoolander 2’ for its offensive representation of non-binary individuals!

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com…..dividuals/

    1. How would anyone tell a boycott was going on? No one’s going to watch the movie regardless

      1. If it’s anything like the first it won’t be funny until the 10th time you watch it stoned.

    2. Thanks to you, Rockabilly, I have added “non-binary individual” to my vocabulary, and now know how to label people like “Pat”!

      *** ponders “non-ternary individual” ***

    3. I still can’t figure out why people won’t join my boycott of movies that include offensive representations of white males.

      1. I’ve been on that boycott for the past decade… though it’s indistinguishable from my not having watched any movies because I can’t be arsed to sit passively for ninety minutes at a stretch.

        1. Yeah, that includes virtually every movie made over the past decade.

    4. the first donor was “Fuck You”

    5. I thought Bieber was just playing himself?

    6. You mean Ciscott.

    7. Tranzcott Zoolander Too? Got it.

  2. Mr. Loder-

    Your reviews are always outstanding. After a string of so-so movies (Mad Max Fury Road, Train Wreck, Gone Girl) I was hesitant to watch Straight Outta Compton without reading your review (maybe I missed it?). Anyway, I enjoyed it as it brought back memories, both good and bad, from living out in the Bay Area and being a teenager in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’m curious what you thought of it. Thanks,

    I.B.

  3. Sting does everything he can with the role of a priest who dispenses expiation and exposition in equal measure.

    Sting! Sting would be another person who’s a hero. Just because, all the music he’s made over the years – I don’t really listen to it, but the fact he’s making it, I respect that.

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  5. Deadpool was pretty great.

    1. We might even get Headpool in the sequel. Which sadly, is the closest we would ever get to a Marvel Zombies feature film.

  6. Got a free preview of Zoolander last evening. So happy I didn’t pay for it…. Pyyyewww

    1. Was it that bad, undercover-FBI-Agent-on-a-sting?

      1. Yes, that bad

  7. Speaking of movie reviews….

    …if people are looking for something dramatic and tense, try “Sicario”

    Basically, a bog-standard-“Traffic”/”No Country For Old Men”-knockoff… but with just enough dash of ‘Third Man/Touch of Evil’ to make the end interesting.

    there is a stupid, ‘syriana’ moment in the middle where everyone realizes that the reason everything evil in the world happens is KORPORASHUNS AND 9-11 but no matter– the above-mentioned ‘third man’ “tell you nothing, hint at dark things to come”-method still manages to make the eventual payoffs at the end interesting.

    also, great cast, great cinematography. pretty things are pretty, actors pretending to be complicated by doing very little

    1. I watched that one as well. Thought it was okay. Seemed to capture the drug war fairly well and the special ops tactics that are used, which I think is exactly the problem. I wonder much the militarization further escalates the conflict?

      1. “I wonder much the militarization further escalates the conflict?”

        as i said = the ‘syriana’ element was stupid and plays on this

        “Traffic” was a far better film in exposing the perverse incentives and real-world effect of drug policy.

        Their pretense about the super-sophisticated Tier-1 Spies & Delta-Force Stuff and wheels-within-wheels manipulations was dumb*.

        (*e.g. – “We could *control* the colombians!!””- really? I suppose that sort of line makes sense to people who don’t actually remember how pablo escobar held the govt of Colombia hostage and waged war on its streets for years, or how that country is still a fucking mess despite the center of drug-smuggling gravity having moved to Mehikko. “Sicario” is like “Clear and Present Danger” in its cartoonishness)

        It says nothing interesting or insightful about the drug war. Its just a cute spy-thriller where you’re not sure who the bad-guys are, and that part was done quite well.

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  10. I saw Deadpool yesterday. Awesome movie! 100% absolutely not for the kiddies, unless you want them to see some completely nude women and Reynold’s bare ass. Also, Reynolds gets his hands on Baccarin’s breasts in the most graphic scene in their sex montage set to Neil Sedaka’s “Calendar Girl” as they hit all the holidays.

  11. As for Zoolander 2, the ticket guy at the theater told me they’d sold TWO tickets to it all day.

  12. Here’s the pitch meeting for ‘Zoolander 2’ — OK, Derek’s wife dies in an accident that he directly caused, and his kid is taken away from him because he’s an unfit parent. This stuff practically writes itself! Hi-larious!!

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