20th Century Fox
Rated R for sexuality, graphic nudity, graphic violence and pervasive profanity
Ryan Reynolds Absolutely ‘Marvel’-ous As Wisecracking Superhero
Technically, Deadpool is the eighth installment in the X-Men film franchise, although it’s different enough from the others to stand on its own. In fact, it’s not only the first R-rated offering in the Marvel Comics series, but the first humor-driven episode to boot.
The movie marks the daring directorial debut of Tim Miller who deserves nothing but praise for eschewing formulaic fare in favor of uncharted waters, when it would’ve been oh so easy to avoid taking any risks. In a bit of inspired casting, Tim tapped Ryan Reynolds for the title role, a proven master of both the comedy (Adventureland, The Proposal and Definitely, Maybe) and action hero genres (Green Lantern, Paper Man and Blade: Trinity).
Here, he plays Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, a Special Forces Agent disfigured by a medical experiment gone horribly wrong. In this origins tale, we learn that the accident left him with an uncanny ability to heal himself almost instantly (except for the skin), a trait likely to come in handy whenever he’s shot, stabbed or otherwise injured. And he also morphed him into a compulsively-wisecracking vigilante.
At the point of departure, we find Wade embarking on a whirlwind romance with Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold. After a year of perfect bliss, their year-long euphoria comes to an abrupt end when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Out of desperation, Wade agrees to allow a mad scientist named Francis (Ed Skrein) perform the unorthodox procedure that turns him into a freak of nature. Inconsolable about the prospect of losing Vanessa, he becomes obsessed with exacting vengeance on the quack. Revenge proves easier said than done, since Francis just happens to be Ajax, an evil mutant with a formidable henchwoman (Gina Carano) as well as his own set of special powers.
But forget the plot, this iconoclastic adventure is meant to be relished for its generous supply of unforced belly laughs elicited from beginning clear through the end of the closing credits. For example, an exasperated Deadpool addresses the audience to complain about his underwhelming sidekicks, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), saying, “It’s like the studio couldn’t afford another X-Men.” On another occasion, he forces a red-hot cigarette lighter into an adversary’s mouth with the warning, “Don’t swallow!”
A relentlessly-hilarious cross of Kick-Ass (2013) and Watchmen (2009) that leaves your appetite whetted for a sequel.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 108 minutes
The Club (El Club)
Music Box Films
Pedophile Priests Repent At Secluded Retreat In Unsettling Drama Set In Chile
The critically-acclaimed Spotlight recently addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you’re looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you.
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Club is a disturbing, deliberately-paced drama for the very open-minded directed by Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem). The picture is set at a mountaintop estate nestled along the Chilean seacoast where a half-dozen defrocked clergymen have been sent to repent.
The secluded retreat is run with a firm hand by Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers), a disgraced nun with a checkered past of her own. Nevertheless, it’s her job to enforce house rules dictated by the Vatican including no communication with outsiders, no cell phones, no self-pleasuring, no self-flagellation, and a vow of poverty.
Consequently, the former pastors’ Spartan-like daily regime consists of little more than chores, attending mass, confessing their sins and praying the rosary between meals. Still, there is much to be gleaned from the clerics’ conversations among themselves.
This one feigns innocence, claiming, “I didn’t commit a crime. I’m not a queer.” Another, ostensibly wracked with guilt, eventually finds a gun and shoots himself in the head, when he can no longer live with himself. And there’s an unrepentant soul who says, “I see the light of the Lord in homosexuality,” arguing that man-boy love brings one closer to God than heterosexuality.
Rules are made to be broken, and the plot thickens when a housemate sneaks into town where he forges a friendship with a fellow pederast offering to procure all the local kids he’d like to rape. Will he or won’t he take the creep up on the offer?
An eerily-unsettling examination of pedophilia from the perspective of the perpetrators suggesting that these sex offenders might not be monsters, but merely misunderstood children of God.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening February 12, 2016
How To Be Single (R for sexuality and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy revolving around the misadventures of a newcomer to New York City (Dakota Johnson) who decides to test the waters of the Manhattan dating scene after breaking up with her marriage-minded college sweetheart (Nicholas Braun). Co-starring Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Alison Brie.
Where To Invade Next (R for profanity, drug use, violent images and brief graphic nudity) Michael Moore mockumentary finds the inveterate iconclast mounting faux invasions of other nations in search of ways to improve the quality of life in the United States of America.
Zoolander 2 (PG-13 for brief profanity, coarse humor, crude sexuality and a scene of over-the-top violence) Ben Stiller reprises the title role in a silly sequel which finds the dim-witted model joining forces with his former adversary (Owen Wilson) in order to fight a new fashion industry nemesis (Will Ferrell). Ensemble cast includes Kristen Wiig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Penelope Cruz and Olivia Munn, with cameos by Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Lenny Kravitz, Demi Lovato and Macaulay Culkin.
Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong (Unrated) Romantic comedy revolving around the love which blossoms between an Asian-American (Jamie Chung) visiting Hong Kong for the very first time and the white guy (Bryan Greenberg) giving her a tour of the city. With Sarah Lian, Jaeden Cheng and Richard Ng.
Cabin Fever (Unrated) Faithful remake of the 2002 horror comedy about five college friends (Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Nadine Crocker, Dustin Inram and Samuel Davis) on the run from a flesh-eating virus during a weekend getaway at a remote rural retreat. Featuring Randy Schulman, Louise Linton, Jason Rouse and Eli Roth.
Fitoor (Unrated) Bollywood version of Great Expectations, the Charles Dickens classic revolving around the coming-of-age of a struggling street urchin (Aditya Roy Kapoor). With Katrina Kaif, Rahul Bhat and Tabu. (In Hindi with subtitles)
Mountains May Depart (Unrated) Three-part character study, set in 1999, 2014 and 2025, chronicling events in the life of a beautiful (Tao Zhao), pursued by two suitors (Yi Zhang and Jing Dong Liang), who opted to marry for money over love. With Zijan Dong, Sylvia Chang and Lu Liu. (In Cantonese, Mandarin and English with subtitles)
National Parks Adventure (Unrated) Eco-documentary, narrated by Robert Redford, extolling the virtues of America’s national parks.
Of Mind And Music (PG-13 for suggestive material, drug references and mature themes) Tenderhearted family drama, unfolding against the backdrop of the New Orleans music scene, examining the toll exacted by Alzheimer’s on a popular street performer (Aunjanue Ellis). Co-starring Bill Cobbs and Joaquim de Almeida.
Providence (Unrated) Silent film set in a tiny Tennessee town where it takes a tragedy for two people (Juli Tapken and Rich Swingle) who’ve known each other for over 40 years to realize they were meant for each other. With Irene Santiago, Katie Pavao and Marcy Conway.
Standoff (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Psychological thriller about a disgraced veteran (Thomas Jane) who makes the most of a shot at redemption created when an adolescent murder witness (Ella Ballentine) is targeted by a bloodthirsty assassin (Laurence Fishburne). Featuring Joanna Douglas, Jim Watson and John Tench.
Touched With Fire (R for profanity, drug use, brief sexuality and a disturbing image) Romance drama revolving around a couple of mental patients (Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby) who fall madly in love over doctors orders while institutionalized for manic depression. Support cast includes Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne and Bruce Altman.