Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skein, Gina Carano, and TJ Miller
Synopsis: One of the most reliable staples at the movies and on TV are superhero stories. They remain wildly popular and Marvel and DC Comics seem to have an unending supply of stories to tell. But usually they take a similar shape and feel. One of the reasons superhero films have been so reliable is that they ride the middle when it comes to content, going for PG-13 ratings and attracting mass audiences that include scores of young viewers. When it came to the adaptation of “Deadpool,” the studio went a different way. “Deadpool” is hardly the first superhero movie to get slapped with an R-rating. But it’s certainly the first to be proud of that rating and to wear it like a badge of honor. But it’s not just the limits of content that make “Deadpool” different from your average superhero fare. This film has a light, irreverent tone to go along with its story. Deadpool often breaks the fourth wall, addressing the audience, and makes plenty of contemporary and Meta pop culture jokes. That’s all part of the fun. In fact, the film begins with a main title credit sequence that it’s fair to say is unlike anything I’ve seen in previous films. And that all works to a certain extent. The story is unrestrained and unfettered, earning its R-rating through overt sexual scenes, graphic language and even more graphic violence. It’s played for laughs most of the time, but it’s certainly different than your typical superhero film. That’s all part of the appeal. Reynolds is the ideal choice to play the lead role, and he’s said it’s been a passion project for him to get the film made. He has great comedic timing and doesn’t take himself too seriously, all keys to making this film and this character work. The supporting cast does a fine job, too. There’s not really much in the way of character development for anyone, and the plot is pretty standard. Again, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it points a lot of that out and has fun with its clichés. We live in a time when superhero films have saturated — some might say over-saturated — the market. In order to stand out you have to have an exceptional story or be something different. That’s the niche that “Deadpool” fills, it’s something different. Not just in its approach to content limits, but in terms of character and story construction, too. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the comics or looking for a different kind of “hero” this film has plenty to offer.
Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
How to Be Single
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Bree, Anders Holm, Damon Wayans, Jr., and Jake Lacey
Synopsis: Every year around Valentine's Day we get some kind of film about relationships and trying to make them work. This year, that film is "How to Be Single." It's a comedy, and kind of a romantic comedy, but not what you'd typically expect. From it's R-rated uncouth approach to the material to the fact that not all the characters wind up in happy relationships, it's a different kind of Valentine's Day movie. Johnson — who plays the lead in the "50 Shades of Grey" series — is good in this role. It taps into her more goofy comedy side. Wilson — who hams it up in "Pitch Perfect" — and Mann are great in supporting roles. The rest of the cast does a nice job, too. There are funny moments and some tender moments. My biggest criticism of the film is that it feels a bit aimless at times. I don't need movies to wrap everything up in a neat bow, but it's nice to be able to tell what they're trying to accomplish. That's not always clear with "How to Be Single." It's a fun movie, and one that men and women will enjoy for a seasonal date night, but it's far from perfect.
Rating: R for sexual content and strong language throughout. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Two stars out of four.
Friday, February 19 — "Risen," "Race"
Friday, February 26 — "Gods of Egypt," "Triple 9," "Eddie the Eagle"