Deadpool. The First Super Anti-Hero?

deadpool-movie-poster-20161The Sloth is in cheery mood today – NOT. We’re hopping mad and spoiling for a fight. Specifically with the low down dog of our neighbour’s landlord who is refusing to take responsibility for the roof of his house blowing off and flattening our car. We need some supremely violent, bloody and fervid catharsis.  We need Deadpool.

 

Deadpool is the first Marvel movie to receive a US ‘R’ rating which means at some point a big cheese Marvel exec said “I know, let’s make a movie that our target teenage boy demographic can’t actually watch” and another big cheese Marvel exec replied “great idea!”.  And yet, despite seemingly flying in the face of all logic, Deadpool scored the highest ever opening for an R rated movie at the US box office.

 

On paper, this is a typical Marvel ‘origins’ story, tracing the history of plain Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a special forces operative happy with his lot and in love with his soulmate Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).  After a cancer diagnosis Wade’s life falls apart and in search of treatment, he agrees to undergo an experimental procedure that leaves him a mutant with accelerated healing powers and a face like ‘an old avocado’. Arise Deadpool.

 

So where does this depart from the Marvel norm and what were those big cheese execs onto?  Two words: Ryan Reynolds.  The Sloth has long championed Mr Reynolds as both cracking dramatic actor (check out the supremely disturbing Buried) and underappreciated comic talent (see The Voices).  In Deadpool he gives a stonking performance as the titular foul mouthed, wisecracking, smart arsed antihero who, rather than fighting for good, is simply the bad guy who beats up worse guys.  

 

What also isn’t so typical are the eye-watering, Tarantino levels of gleeful violence, graphic sexual references and irreverent, anarchic tone.  The opening credits list the clichés of the comic book genre: ‘the British villain’; ‘the hot chick’. Deadpool’s addresses to camera not only break down the fourth wall but bite the studio hand that feeds him, with numerous snarky jokes at the expense of the X-Men movies. And perhaps in deference to the older R rated audience, digs are made at Mr Reynold’s own advancing years, on which note The Sloth would like to commend the use of an age-appropriate love interest – the gorgeous Morena Baccarin is 36 years old – radical casting in HW.

 

Of course much of these claims of subversion are arguably cosmetic for, despite all the posturing, Deadpool does still adhere to the basic conventions it claims to reject.  Yet it still feels fresh, funny, untamed and infinitely preferably to any other ponderously self-important superhero movie we’ve sat through in recent years. The Sloth is already looking forward to the inevitable franchise. Now if only we could persuade Mr Reynolds to nip round & sort out that landlord…

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The Voices. Talking Dirty.

voiceGive The Sloth a daft premise and we’re all over it like a cheap suit. So The Voices could have been written with us in mind. It features a talking dog – yes please. A psychopathic cat – like it. And a delusional serial killer – could it get any better? Let’s find out.

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a factory worker.  On the surface he’s sweet and earnest, singing irritatingly cheerful songs  on the production line and contributing ideas for the office Christmas party. But all is not entirely well in Jerry’s world, for Jerry is not entirely well. In fact he’s seeing a psychiatrist and is delusional, convinced his pet dog Bosco and cat Mr Whiskers (both voiced by Ryan) are talking to him. Bosco, in the manner of dogs the world over, is dopey, loving and supportive. Mr Whiskers, in the manner of cats the world over, is evil, vindictive and fond of rude turns of phrase involving back passages. And randomly speaks with a (slightly ropey) Scottish accent.

Fighting these virtual extensions of his good and bad conscience, Jerry unfortunately finds Mr Whiskers becoming more persuasive. Particularly unfortunate for Fiona (Gemma Arterton) the office hottie and distant object of Jerry’s affections. Chancing upon Fiona alone one night, one thing leads to another and Jerry, completely unintentionally, stabs her to death. Oops.  But that’s OK for he salvages her head, stores it in the fridge and lo and behold, Fiona’s head starts talking to him too, demanding Jerry kill again to provide her with a fridge-friend. Can Jerry resist the voices’ demands?.

The Voices is dark. Very dark and often very funny, shot through with a large dose of Little Shop Of Horrors style surreal kitsch and hitting just the right, slightly ‘off’ tone. The Sloths’ good, liberal, Guardian-reading left wing conscience felt bad laughing at the antics of the hapless and naively endearing Jerry. But then our evil, hedonistic, vodka and tonic swilling bad conscience told us to get a ****ing life and stop being so anally uptight. Leave your good conscience at home and enjoy.

UK release 20 March

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