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"ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL"
(2018) (Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin) (PG-13)


Read Our Full Content Movie Review for Parents

NOTE:
This movie is a PG-13 edited version -- with some new footage -- of "Deadpool 2" that came out earlier this year.
QUICK TAKE:
Action/Comedy: An unlikely superhero with a wicked sense of humor tries to stop a man from the future from killing a troubled and dangerous mutant teenager.
PLOT:
Following the murder of his girlfriend, Vanessa (MORENA BACCARIN), during a home invasion, former Special Forces op turned unlikely superhero Deadpool -- a.k.a. Wade Wilson (RYAN REYNOLDS) -- doesn't want to go on living. When not drowning his sorrows at the bar run by his friend, Weasel (T.J. MILLER), he tries to kill himself, but his immortality stymies that attempt. Like before, the hulking and metallic Colossus (voice of STEFAN KAPICIC) and the energy wave controlling Negasonic Teenage Warhead (BRIANNA HILDEBRAND) want him to join the X-Men, and he reluctantly agrees and signs on as a trainee.

Their first mission is to stop troubled mutant teenager Russell Collins (JULIAN DENNISON) from inflicting further damage -- via his fire-controlling abilities -- at the mutant rehabilitation school where he lives Deadpool talks him down, but when he learns the teen was reportedly abused and tortured by the administrators, he kills one of them, ends up captured -- with both his and the boy's superpowers controlled by collars around their necks -- and sent off to prison.

It's there where a man from the future with a vendetta, Cable (JOSH BROLIN), arrives and tries to kill Russell, with the now resurrected Deadpool only barely managing to save the teen. He then decides he must recruit other superheroes to help him battle the future man, but only Domino (ZAZIE BEETZ) -- whose superhero power is managing to manipulate luck that keeps her out of harm's way -- survives. With Russell, a.k.a. Firefist, eventually teaming up with the massive Juggernaut, it's up to Deadpool, Colossus, and Domino to prevent Russell from making his first kill and turning him into the future killer who will alter Cable's world and thus send him back into the past.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
The following review has been edited from our original review of "Deadpool 2." The film has been edited down from an R to PG-13 rating (removing most of the stronger language, some sexual content and some drug content) and features a framing device of the title character having kidnapped actor Fred Savage, and taped him to a bed in a bedroom modeled after a similar set in "The Princess Bride." He reads him the tale of "Deadpool 2" like a bedtime story, with funny exchanges between the characters (that occasionally interrupt the film) regarding their situation and the story at hand. Otherwise, the film is pretty much the same minus the PG-13 edits.

There's a reason the saying "too much of a good thing" exists. For example, Peanut M&M's are great in small doses, but eating a five-pound bag in just two or three days is figuratively and definitely literally too much. Not that anyone I've known my entire life would have first-hand experience with testing out that theory.

By now, you'd think the same would hold true for superhero movies. After all, since the calendar rolled over into 2016, there have been eighteen of them hitting theaters, with many more in the pipeline. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to believe oversaturation and waning viewer interest would set in at some point. Yet, they continue to rock 'n roll at the box office, with two such offerings ("Black Panther" and "Avengers: Infinity War) likely to be among, if not the top grossing films of 2018.

While I've enjoyed most of them, they are all starting to run together, and thus any of them that differ from the rest get my attention. That happened back in early 2016 when "Deadpool" went all meta -- not to mention extremely adult -- and turned into an unexpected monster hit by breaking all sorts of box office records, especially for an R rated film.

That is, except for the biggest such grosser in North America, something the title character brings up -- natch, uber sarcastically -- early on in "Once Upon a Deadpool" that's likely to follow its predecessor down the path to box office riches. It certainly follows in its footprints in terms of tone, irreverence, and playing off the oozing charisma of lead Ryan Reynolds.

He returns as the protagonist and even takes the time to skewer himself -- both as the character and the real-life actor -- among plenty of other material during the action-comedy's nearly two-hour runtime. While the flick won't make sense to anyone who didn't see the original and certainly won't convert anyone who wasn't a fan of that offering, it will mightily entertain those who were.

And although it suffers just a smidge (or perhaps a bit more) from not having the benefit of being or feeling original and fresh (or working off the obligatory origins story), I was amused and entertained pretty much non-stop from start to finish. But like the first film, it's not for all viewers and certainly not younger kids who are addicted to superhero movies, although things have been toned down considerably in this new, PG-13 cut.

As before, the story -- penned by Reynolds and returning scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick -- focuses on our superhero wanting to end his life after a tragic opening, followed by him joining the X-Men as a trainee, with a funny joke about why he only sees Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) in Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

That leads to a run-in with a troubled, firestarter mutant (Julian Dennison) and a cybernetic man from the future (Josh Brolin) who wants to kill that teenager for something he's yet to do in this timeline (but has already done so in Cable's future). Following some cryptic advice from his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) somewhere in the hereafter, Deadpool then decides he must stop the volatile teen before he gets an unstoppable taste for killing.

That might sound heavy -- and the moments between Deadpool/Wade and Vanessa are (including in an emotionally moving scene scored to a slowed down rendition of a-ha's signature "Take on Me" song) -- but it doesn't deter from the action-comedy mix that otherwise keeps things humming, kicking and laughing along at breakneck speed. And that includes an absolutely hilarious sequence where the protagonist decides to assemble a superhero team, with only one (a fun Zazie Beetz as a lady who controls luck) surviving their first mission.

Simply put, if you enjoyed the first film and wanted to see more of the same (including, this time around, some extra material featuring Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage) you're going to have a grand time here. I did, and while it gets docked half a point for sort of simply retreading the meta aspects and tone of the original, it's otherwise just as entertaining and enjoyable to watch, and thankfully -- at least so far with just two installments -- has yet to become too much of a good thing. It rates as a 6.5 out of 10.




Reviewed December 11, 2018 / Posted December 12, 2018


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