Deadpool by Deadpool

Deadpool: a Review. By Deadpool.

Hey, you!

Yes, you. Trolling through the internet, looking for something to do because you’ve already consumed everything else the vast canyons of the interwebs have to offer (sicko).

Well, stop looking. You found it. And here’s why:

It’s all about me!

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Yes, me. Deadpool. Usually this blog is written by some guy named Colin, but when I realized that he was going to be writing about me, I figured I would give him a kick in the pants and write about me myself. Who knows me better than me, right?

Of course, I had to truss him up and chuck him in the closet, but who cares? It’s all for the sake of art, right?

Hey, shut up in there! Can’t you see I’m working over here?! The nerve of some people, seriously.

Anyway, the first thing you should know about me is that I’m awesome. The second thing you should know is that I’m self-aware. Think Skynet, but oh so much sexier.

The third thing you should know is that I have a new movie, and it kicks ass.

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It took dumbass movie executives a while to make a movie about me, don’t ask me why. It’s pretty clear they all had their heads up their butts if they thought that godawful version of me in that Wolverine movie a few years ago was a good idea. I’m the Merc with the Mouth okay, who thought it was a good idea to take the mouth away from me?! The less said about that nonsense, the better.

Well I’m happy to say that they got me right this time.

My story is fairly simple. I’m a badass, right, and I had an awesome girlfriend, but the problem was that I also had a severe case of terminal cancer in parts of my body you really don’t want to have cancer in (I suppose that would be all of them, but you get the idea). So I made a decision.

In retrospect, it was not the best decision, since my face now resembles ground walrus meat. Then again, maybe it was a good decision, since I’m alive and I have superpowers and a sweet outfit.

So basically, what I did was go to some really shady dudes who tortured the shit out of me until my latent mutant powers were activated and I now heal from everything.

At least I think that’s how it went. To be honest, the details are a bit hazy, but I guess that’s a side effect of taking one too many knives to the head, things tend to get kinda…fuzzy.

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What was I talking about again?

Oh, right. Badass origin story. So as you can probably imagine, having your face made to look like anchovy pizza forgotten in the back of the fridge for a month makes you a bit unhappy, so after making my escape I had one thing to live for: revenge! And also trying to work up the courage to talk to my girl again, which is sorta hard when you look like that one guy Steve Buscemi put through the woodchipper in that movie that one time.

And that’s about it, really. The plot of my movie isn’t terribly important, since the experience is really all about one thing: this guy.

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Awww yeah, that’s right, take it in, take it all in. I’ll wait.

Done? Okay. As you may have figured out by now, I talk a lot. I talk when I’m angry, I talk when I’m sad, I talk when I’m happy, I talk when I’m turning hordes of henchmen into shish kebabs. I’m like Spider-man, only better looking and with more murder.

Fortunately, my brand-spanking new movie gets just about every aspect of my profoundly multifaceted personality right. The humor, the snark, the badassery, the handsomeness, it’s all there. My movie was directed by a guy named Tim Miller, it was his directorial debut and I have to say he nailed it. The action scenes in my movie are easy to follow and don’t fall back on that stupid shaky-cam thing that’s so popular in action movies these days. You get to see me in all my ass-kicking glory.

Ryan Reynolds plays me in my movie, and he completely redeems his previous ill-advised forays into comic-book movies. Gone are the bad memories of Green Lantern and that abominable portrayal of me in that Wolverine movie. And the less said about Blade Trinity, the better (the guy who usually writes this blog told me before I tied him up that he hasn’t even seen that movie, and he’s not missing anything).

My movie may not be perfect, but it is as good of a movie about me as it is possible to make. I look great, I sound great, I am great.

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My movie’s not for everybody. Don’t take the kids to see it, Mom and Dad. Just because it’s a comic-book movie doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for all ages. Comic books are all dark and sophisticated now, you know? We superheroes mean business these days. Although I guess I’m more of an antihero, since I don’t give much of a crap about saving the world and all that other do-gooder nonsense.

I’m not a total loner, mind you. I’ve got friends! Lots of friends! Two of them are in my movie. One is this short-haired punk chick who has flame powers or something. I’m not really sure who she is actually, but she comes in handy when it inevitably gets to be time to kill some fools. The other one is Colossus, a recognizable X-Man who is a Russian metal-skinned dude. He was in some of the earlier X-Men movies, although they forgot to make him Russian for some reason.

The guy who normally writes this blog would probably put a picture of Colossus here, but I’m not going to do that because I’m the star here, dammit. So instead you can look at me again.

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And yeah, Colossus is a CGI character and he looks a bit shonky, but my movie didn’t have the same CGI budget as the freaking Avengers or something, okay? I mean who do I look like, James Cameron? I’m not made of money! Sheesh.

Then again, maybe I am made of money, since my movie hauled in $135 million dollars its opening weekend. You know what that means: $equel$!

So if you haven’t already experienced the story of me, what are you waiting for? Stop what you’re doing and go to the damn theater.

All right, I’m all done! That wasn’t so hard. I guess I have to untie that dude now, though. C’mere you…

Keanu Kraze: 47 Ronin

Say what you will about Keanu Reeves’ acting abilities, he’s made some genuinely good movies. John Wick, Speed, The Matrix, Point Break.

And then there’s 47 Ronin, a puzzling hodgepodge of a movie. The 2013 film cost a bundle to make, and FLOPPED hugely. It’s a classic example of a good concept getting shot in the foot due to extensive studio interference. It was such a box-office bomb that Wikipedia lists it as the second-most expensive box-office bomb EVER. And that’s adjusted for inflation, unadjusted, it’s number one.

Wow. A movie that bombed so hard must be absolute crap, right? Well…not exactly. The film is a mixed bag, but it’s nowhere near as bad as you might expect.

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The movie tells a heavily fictionalized version of the real forty-seven Ronin, which was an actual historical event. That the film’s version of this story is fictional is pretty obvious from the opening narration, which claims that ancient feudal Japan was “A group of magical islands home to witches and demons.” Um, okay.

Keanu plays Kai, a half-Japanese, half-English outcast, who is shunned by his fellow samurai due to his mixed ancestry. He was also raised in the woods by demons, who taught him to fight and gave him superpowers.

Tellingly, the character of Kai is not present at all in the actual story of the forty-seven Ronin. He was invented completely for the film, I guess because Universal studios wanted a recognizable Hollywood actor.

But Reeves’ character still feels shoehorned into the story, since it would have been entirely possible to tell it without him. 47 Ronin was supposed to come out in 2012 but was pushed back to 2013 to incorporate time for re-shoots, which were done because Universal wanted Reeves to have more of a presence in the movie. This included giving him more dialogue scenes and also added a love story involving his character. Sorry guys, but it didn’t work, since Keanu’s character still feels unnecessary.

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He’s more of a side character. The real driving force behind the story is Oishi, who is driven to avenge the death of his lord, who committed seppuku (ritual suicide) after being bewitched by the evil Lord Kira and his henchwoman, an evil sorceress.

Much like Reeves’ character, the movie as a whole is something of a half-breed (and also like Reeves’ character, it was largely shunned upon release). It can never decide if it wants to be a gritty historical swords-and-sandals epic (like Gladiator or Braveheart) or more of a fantasy romp (leaning more towards The Lord of the Rings).

This is again due to interference on the part of the studio. From what I’ve read, the film’s director, Carl Rinsch, wanted a more realistic, gritty approach to the film, while Universal wanted a fantasy epic. The finished movie ends up being some of both and a lot of neither. The rumor was that Rinsch was kicked out of the editing room during post-production, and therefore didn’t have much of a say on the film’s final cut.

It’s really too bad, since the actual story is great, but the film’s version of it is so watered-down it becomes hard to care about the outcome. The main problem from a story perspective is that of the titular 47 Ronin, only two of them have any personality or character development, like, at all. Those are Kai and Oishi, and of those two, only Oishi feels actually necessary to the plot.

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Fortunately, Oishi is played by Hiroyuki Sanada, a very talented actor (known to Western audiences for his role as a gangster in The Wolverine) who gives Oishi a real sense of humanity and determination. The rest of the movie doesn’t live up to his drive.

Also contributing to the weird feel of the movie is that fact that it’s in English. Yeah, I get it, Americans are lazy and don’t want to read subtitles, but in 47 Ronin what you get is a lot of very Japanese-looking people speaking very heavily-accented English, which brings to mind all of those badly-dubbed kung fu movies from the 70’s and 80’s. And it’s not that the film’s dubbing is bad per se (the words coming out of the characters’ mouths do at least match up with the movements of their lips) but it doesn’t sound right. You keep wondering why these people are speaking English, and as a result you’re distracted and not focusing on the actual movie.

And this brings us to the end of the movie. At the end, (spoilers obviously), all of the 47 Ronin (or at least the ones who weren’t bumped off earlier) are sentenced to commit seppuku by the shogun for having disobeyed his earlier order to not take revenge against Kira for the death of their master. So, yeah, the movie ends with the main characters committing suicide. That sucks. And what sucks even more is that only TWO of them have any personality, so you don’t give a crap about the other forty-five. It feels anticlimactic to say the least, and the lack of character development robs the movie’s ending of much of its impact.

But as sloppy as the story is, there are good things about the film. For one thing, it looks GREAT. The costume and set designs are top notch. Every character looks amazing and authentic, and the costumes in particular give the movie a vibrant color palette that makes it great to look at.

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The special effects are also quite good (the $175 million budget had to go somewhere) and the action scenes are well-shot and choreographed. There are some great sword fights and the final battle scene is viscerally satisfying. Keanu gets to fight a dragon, which looks cool even if it doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

And since we’re on the subject of stuff that looks cool, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Lovecraftian Samurai. The Lovecraftian Samurai is a hulking brute of a henchman who looks really freaking cool. He’s sadly underused (big surprise) but he looks absolutely badass. He’s actually not a CGI character, he’s played by an absurdly tall English guy in a sweet costume. CGI may have been used to enhance the character but there is an actual guy in there. The character’s name is never given in the movie, he’s listed in the credits as Lovedraftian Samurai, although I really have no idea why, since as far as I know H.P. Lovecraft never wrote about the cosmic existential horror of seven-and-a-half-foot tall samurai warriors. I do love the phrase “Lovecraftian Samurai” though.

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47 Ronin is worth seeing for fans of quirky and bizarre cinema. Given all of the studio interference and the film’s jumbled tone, it’s not too surprising that it was such a flop. It is too bad that the story didn’t get better treatment though, since it’s a fantastic story and the fact that it’s based on actual historical events is pretty mind-blowing. Overall, 47 Ronin feels like a wasted opportunity with a few bright spots that ultimately aren’t enough to elevate the film above the level of a cinematic curiosity.

GIRL POWER: Tomb Raider

Some movies can enlighten you, teach you something, make you feel deeply, and teach you something about the human condition.

Other movies don’t do any of that, and that’s fine.

Angelina Jolie’s two Tomb Raider movies from 2001 and 2003 are perfect examples of that. The plots of both movies are forgettable, they frequently don’t make much sense, they’re unrealistic blah blah blah who cares.

I love both movies, for one very simple reason: they’re FUN.

Seriously. They’re both really, really fun. If you haven’t seen 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, you really should. Get them on Netflix or whatever, pop some popcorn, sit back, and have a blast.

Most people are probably familiar with the name Lara Croft, even if they haven’t seen the movies or played any of the video games. Everyone knows this character, right?

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And okay, I get that some people aren’t that big a fan of this character, but I don’t care because I love her and I have no problem saying that on the internet where anyone can read it.

But the reason I love her isn’t just because of her prodigious assets. I love her because she is, wait for it, a FUN character. Who doesn’t love a badass treasure hunter? She fights bad guys, she goes to exotic locations around the world and finds cool stuff. Who doesn’t want to live that life? The character of Lara Croft is wish fulfillment to be sure, but in case you hadn’t figured it out by now, I am totally okay with that. The recent video games have shown there’s maybe more to the character than just wish fulfillment, but I’ll get to that in more detail later.

First, the movies. They’re guilty pleasures. A while ago, when I wrote about the Mission: Impossible movies, I called them Popcorn Perfection. The same could be said of the Tomb Raider movies. They’re popcorn escapism at its finest.

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The first movie involves Lara’s quest to locate a mystical triangle which grants its user the power to control time. Of course, this ancient artifact was split into two pieces that are located on opposite corners of the globe, and both must be found in order to wield the great and terrible power. Also, Lara is facing off against the Illuminati, who also seek the triangle.

If at any pointed during that plot description you yawned, or perhaps snorted derisively, it’s okay, I forgive you. This is a safe place, and there is no judgment here. Like I said, the plots of these movies are nothing special.

But what the plot does allow for is exotic locations and lots of hugely enjoyable over-the-top action scenes. One particular highlight takes place in a tomb (of course) where a bunch of statues come to life and start attacking people. It’s cheesy and wonderful, and features some less-than-convincing early-2000’s CGI.

The movie also features an appearance from pre-Bond Daniel Craig, speaking with a flat American accent, which is really off-putting since I’m so used to his smooth British tones. It’s always weird when you’re used to hearing someone sound a particular way, and when they sound different the whole thing just feels sort of off. Craig’s accent isn’t particularly bad, it just sounds…funny.

Speaking of accents, Angelina Jolie really nails Lara’s posh English accent. I find that American actors are usually terrible at doing English accents, while English actors are really good at American accents (you’d never know from watching the Dark Knight trilogy, for example, that Christian Bale and Gary Oldman are both Brits). Fortunately, Jolie is the exception to this.

Her English accent really works, and I think the key to it is that she doesn’t over do it. Half the time when Americans try to sound English they exaggerate it way too much and end up sounding like idiots, but Jolie’s accent is more understated in the Tomb Raider movies and it really benefits the character a lot.

And if it seems like I’m harping on the accent, it’s because it’s important to making the character of Lara Croft work, and if the main character didn’t work, then the movie wouldn’t work. It would have been easy for the producers to say, “screw it,” and have Jolie speak with her natural American accent, but they didn’t. Lara’s Englishness is an essential aspect of her character, and credit to the filmmakers for not messing with that.

Ok, rant over. The first movie is loads of fun. It’s full of goofy action and seems at least somewhat aware of how silly it is. In one scene, after an epic shootout in Lara’s stately manor, a UPS guy comes by the next morning, and finds Lara’s butler and her tech guy (both of whom are good comic relief) cleaning up the debris (which includes shoveling rubble into a wheelbarrow). As Lara signs for the package, she sees the delivery guy looking around incredulously and she says “I woke up this morning and I just hated everything.” The UPS guy gets the hell out of there in a hurry. That’s always cracked me up.

The movie even ends on this freeze frame, and there’s something awesomely cheesy about a movie ending on a badass freeze frame.

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The movie also clocks in at a brisk 100 minutes, which is perfect because it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, the sequel, The Cradle of Life, is 117 minutes long, which feels a bit overlong. The sequel follows Lara as she attempts to find Pandora’s Box before an evil megalomaniac can find it and unleash it upon the world.

The sequel also features pre-300 Gerard Butler as Lara’s sidekick. They used to have a thing together, of course, which complicates their relationship. Overall the sequel doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the original and it drags near the end, but it’s still plenty entertaining, and is helped immeasurably by Jolie’s presence in the title role.

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Seriously, kudos to whoever had the idea to cast her as Lara, she’s great. You might say that there’s not a whole lot of depth required to make this character work on screen, and in some respect you might be right, but Jolie really is great in these movies, and I swear to God it’s not just because she looks like this:

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Although of course I would be lying through my teeth if I said that had nothing to do with it. But hey, this is a judgment-free zone, remember?

And the last few years have been good for Lara. The last couple Tomb Raider games have been fantastic, and it’s my recent addiction to Rise of the Tomb Raider that helped inspire me to write this post.

Developer Crystal Dynamics has done great work with the series, and proved that there’s more to the character than just being aesthetically pleasing. The recent games have taken Lara back to the beginning and emphasized her vulnerability and her humanity. She’s also more, shall we say, realistically-proportioned than she used to be, although she remains supermodel-gorgeous.

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2013’s Tomb Raider reboot was dark and gritty, and at times shockingly violent (there’s a sequence where Lara falls into a lake of blood) but it did a great job rebooting the character and showing that there’s more to Lara than just looking good. The most recent game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, which came out last year, is a tremendously fun game which offers a deep and varied gameplay experience. It’s also not as dark as its predecessor, which is a bit of a relief.

The movies and the recent games have done a superb job of capturing the appeal of Lara Croft. She’s just a fun character, and there’s more to her than meets the eye. She’s more interested in knowledge than treasure (it’s not like she needs more money, she’s already fabulously rich), which makes her a hell of a lot more interesting than someone who’s just in it for the money.

Lara Croft has come a long way, and if the next Tomb Raider games are as good as the previous ones, I’ll be more than happy.