“I Don’t Think Tony Would’ve Done What He Did, If He Didn’t Know That You Were Going To Be Here After He Was Gone…”
With Avengers: Endgame managing to tie up a decade’s worth of multi-layered storytelling with enormous success, with the recent re-release clearly a marketing tool to make sure Marvel’s gargantuan epic finally knocks Avatar off the top spot for highest grossing film of all time, the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this week is arguably one of the first MCU films to carry with it a heavy sense of superhero fatigue, particularly with Endgame still taking up cinema screens across the globe, and one which follows on from the high watermark of what audiences now come to expect from releases within its’ respective cinematic universe. Acting as a sequel to both 2017’s Homecoming and Endgame, Far From Home sees Jon Watts return to direct Tom Holland’s portrayal of the friendly neighbourhood wall crawler for a film which although feels very familiar, is a sweet, thoroughly entertaining and highly comedic chapter in the Marvel universe, a move which sees young Peter Parker attempt to come to terms with the loss of Tony Stark/Iron Man by venturing upon a school trip in which his only goal is to build up the nerve to finally unleash his feelings on the zany MJ. Whilst a road trip without the sight of digitally designed mayhem would have been a bold choice indeed to follow on from Endgame, Far From Home of course features enough web-slinging and superhero goodness to make every MCU fan more than happy, and with such a likeable cast and sharp, clever dialogue, Watts’ movie shows there is still an abundance of life in the old Marvel movie making machine yet.
With an opening act which attempts in a hilarious cliff notes format to present the aftershocks of the events of Endgame, where those not affected by the so called “blip” have of course moved up in years whilst the returned have stayed the same, Far From Home successfully manages to blend the “Spidey” sensibility of Peter Parker attempting to balance the responsibility of a superhero with the wishes of a teenager as seen before in the likes of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, a movie which still remains top of most people’s favourite wall crawling live-action feature, and thanks to a deliciously engaging script, Holland’s performance is a tornado of teenage angst as he is constantly interrupted by Samuel L. Jackson’s returning Nick Fury and co. in order to aid Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Nocturnal Animals) Quentin Beck against the forces of “The Eternals”, even when asking out Zendaya’s (The Greatest Showman) MJ is the most important task in his life. As for Gyllenhaal, the multi-talented cinematic legend does begin somewhat awkward in a role of which an actor of his pedigree tends to avoid, particularly after the non-existent success of Prince of Persia, but as the movie’s central, and somewhat expected for those familiar with the Quentin Beck/Mysterio character, twist finally arrives, the American is allowed to breathe, turning a somewhat ordinary antagonist into one of the more memorable MCU villains, one which taps into previous Gyllenhaal roles, particularly his full-on level of unhinged madness within the superb Nightcrawler. With a runtime slightly too long and a concluding act which is hard to distinguish between other MCU chapter conclusions, Far From Home is an excellent Spider-Man film and a very good MCU story which takes on the heavy task of following on from Endgame and passes with just enough success.
Overall Score: 7/10
“The Mind Is A Fragile Thing. It Takes Only The Slightest To Tip In The Wrong Direction…”
With Avengers: Endgame showing forevermore how to successfully handle a blockbuster, superhero franchise which not only pretty much exceeded the expectations of obsessive fans across the globe, myself included, but ticked the boxes many times over in both the critical and financial categories, here we are no more than a month and a half later with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, 20th Century Fox’s own “endgame” which brings to a messy conclusion, the entire X-Men franchise which began all the way back at the start of the century with a movie which in retrospect, could be argued as being the kickstarter for the comic-heavy filmic universe we find ourselves in today. With the X-Men cinematic universe being handled with less delicacy as the MCU, it’s fair to say that Dark Phoenix arrives with little hype or expectation, a concluding chapter that screams with half volume a fond farewell to the alternative universe of our familiar mutated characters first introduced in X-Men: First Class, revived excellently in the franchise best, Days of Future Past, and once again in the not-so great but still watchable, Apocalypse, and with the movie attempting to revive the titular and very well regarded “Dark Phoenix Saga” from the original comics which was somewhat soiled in the franchise low, X-Men: The Last Stand, the final chapter in Fox’s almost twenty year franchise is indeed a solid, by-the-numbers superhero blockbuster, but that’s pretty much it.
As per the standard of most cinematic franchises, Dark Phoenix ultimately works or doesn’t work depending on how much you personally bring to it, and whilst I do not hold Fox’s own superhero franchise with anywhere near as much regard as I do with the MCU, I can claim to bear a slight relationship with the film’s central characters, with the likes of McAvoy (Filth), Fassbender (Shame) and Jennifer Lawrence (mother!) each returning in their respective roles, yet where the movie ultimately fails is in its’ approach to both the sloppy introduction of new characters, particularly Jessica Chastain’s (Zero Dark Thirty) criminally underdeveloped leading villain, and the wider universe, with timelines now completely out of whack and the effect of the predecessing movies having less of an impact when watching in retrospect. With sloppy dialogue and a highly predictable plot, Dark Phoenix is ultimately saved by the Phoenix herself, with Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame giving the best big screen performance of her career so far, outshining her elder Hollywood colleagues who in all honesty, seem to be waiting for the franchise to end in order to collect their well earned bonuses, and whilst a film which starts with a car crash is somewhat begging for certain similarities to be made, Dark Phoenix is by no means the worst superhero movie in the world, it just happens to be one of the more forgettable. See ya, X-Men…
Overall Score: 6/10
“Even If There’s A Small Chance. We Owe This, To Everyone Who’s Not In This Room, To Try…”
With the final season of Game of Thrones gracing eager audiences earlier in the month, April 2019 will always be remembered as the time in which pop culture exploded into realms of unprecedented greatness as society witnesses the end point of both TV’s most talked about show and of course, the enormously anticipated, Avengers: Endgame, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to last year’s excellent and groundbreaking, Infinity War. Presented as the final installment in the Kevin Feige coined, “Infinity Saga”, which began all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame sees our grieving band of OG superheroes come to terms with, and more importantly, attempt to revert the catastrophic damage caused by Josh Brolin’s (Deadpool 2) megalomaniacal titan, Thanos, in the previous chapter, and with the giant purple one’s tricky finger snap having gone down in pop culture loire for evermore, the bar is set impressively high for a sequel which Marvel themselves see as the one film the entire MCU has pretty much been leading up to. Bamboozling critics and audiences alike with a staggeringly long three hour run time, it’s fair to say that in terms of excess, Endgame laps it up completely, and whilst anything stamped with the Marvel branding tends to be absolutely critic-proof, what an absolute pleasure it is in being able to confirm that Endgame is everything that it should be and more, an emotional, bizarre and thoroughly engaging and entertaining cinematic blockbuster which manages to effectively balance spectacle with narrative payoffs, resulting in a closing chapter which beautifully reinforces the idea that what Marvel have done will never ever be executed quite as brilliantly ever again in the history of cinema.
Heading in, it’s quite important to note that Endgame is not in anyway Infinity War part two, and whilst expectations and fan theories always affect judgement on the final piece, the fact that I’ve now watched Endgame twice goes to show that the fourth Avengers piece is not just another movie, in fact it’s almost too much of a movie, a three hour long comic book dream which expects its’ audience to be synchronised with every in-joke, every knowing aside and be able to recount what happened where and at what time in each of the preceding twenty one MCU chapters. If part of this selective band of followers, then Endgame seeks to provide as much fan service to you as humanly possible whilst crucially still understanding the fundamentals of filmmaking by biding its time with an opening act which seeks to show the effects of Thanos’ snap, one which impressively highlights melancholic tales of loss, depression and guilt, resulting in some of the most impressive writing I can remember seeing in a superhero film since The Dark Knight. With the PR team for Endgame deserving their own round of applause for brilliantly being able to manage not spoiling anything at all, pretty much everything seen in the film’s trailers either occurs during the opening thirty minutes or not at all, and whilst particular narrative choices are expected from fans with more observant qualities to their Marvel addiction, the fact remains that in order to enjoy Endgame‘s many shocks and surprises you must simply head in not being aware of anything, with one of the film’s many joys is being able to gasp, cry and fist-pump your way through the action with an audience who are as dedicated to both the characters and the franchise as you undoubtedly are, if not more so.
At three hours long, the fact that Endgame did not feel as if it was testing any sort of patience at any point is a remarkable feat in itself, with both the pacing and the editing serving the action rather splendidly in a way that only the best filmmakers can successfully manage to balance, and whilst at times particular characters seem to be slightly wasted or criminally underused, such a complaint is particularly minor and in a way obsolete, with the primary mission of the piece clearly offering the chance to serve conclusions to characters who have been with us since the start and being well aware that for the new breed, the future is both bright and holds their own tales ready to be told and explored as we head into the franchise’s new phase come the end of the year. With enough hilarious dialogue and slapstick performances to put most so-called comedies to shame, Endgame deliciously plays into the Marvel mould we have both come to know and love, and whilst the balance between light and dark never fails to hit the solemn, gritty realism of Logan, the emotional payoffs of particular character arcs will leave even the most cold-hearted of sociopaths in floods of tears as they come to realise that characters in which their time has been spent with for just over a decade may not be ever seen again, in this universe anyway. When it comes to reviewing Endgame, what Marvel have ultimately achieved is unprecedented in the realm of cinema, twenty two movies across eleven years and all leading to a conclusion which is worthy of both the hype and anticipation laid upon it, and in some way, just being part of such a magnificent journey is reason enough to fall in love with a movie which will not only make it difficult to look at any future superhero movie in the same way, but is in some ways a love letter to fans whose dedication and desire have ultimately made such a dream come true.
Overall Score: 9/10
“We Faced Every Threat There Is, And Yet You Take Me In. You Made Me A Goddamn Weapon…”
Adding itself onto the esteemed list of cinematic remakes which not one single person in the entire galaxy ever asked for, the “re-imagining” of the stump-headed, Hellboy, hits the big screen this week, offering a fresh interpretation of the charismatic, blood-red superhero famously first seen on film thanks to the now Academy Award winning, Guillermo Del Toro, back in 2004 and again in its respective sequel four years later. With the project beginning life back in 2014 and first propositioned once again to Del Toro who ultimately turned the chance down to return to directorial duties, the reigns have been handed down to Newcastle-born, Neil Marshall, whose early excellent exploits in the form of Dog Soldiers and The Descent, both interesting and memorable B-movie splatterthons, resulting in the Geordie moving onto the likes of Game of Thrones among other high-profile projects. With a new director comes too, a new leading star, with the magnanimous Ron Perlman being replaced with Stranger Things star, David Harbour, who gleefully takes up the chance to embrace the lead role, and whilst Hellboy circa 2019 takes a more bloodthirsty and radically adult approach to the infamous spawn of hell, Marshall’s movie is not just one of the worst remakes ever to be plunged into existence, it is undoubtedly one of the tackiest, cringe-laden so-called “blockbusters” I have ever had the displeasure of fidgeting through in recent memory.
With an opening monologue which attempts to add a semblance of backstory as we are introduced to Milla Jovovich’s (Resident Evil) poorly designed and not so threatening Blood Queen, the deep-voiced dulcet tones of Ian McShane (John Wick) actually made me wonder whether what I had voluntary walked into was actually a massive Hollywood April fools joke which just happened to be just over a week old. Unfortunately this clearly was not the case, with the sudden appearance of Harbour’s hairy Hellboy proving that instead, what Marshall has created is an cinematic abomination of scarily hilarious proportions which can only be described as Pan’s Labyrinth meets Gods of Egypt as directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. With awfully timed humour, bare-bones level digital effects and a sense of immature rankness which takes pleasure in needless levels of exploitation gore, Hellboy in other, sensible hands may actually have been a semi-decent R-rated, nerdgasm-esque guilty pleasure in the ilk of Deadpool or the more serious and memorable, Logan, but with a central script featuring pig-headed demons with terrible scouse accents, zero sense of threat and attempts at characterisation which hit new, unprecedented levels of awfulness, Marshall’s decision to remake a well regarded supernatural superhero franchise clearly should have been prevented from the offset, and with an ending which points at the possibility of a sequel, the fact that Hellboy was the closest I have ever come to completely walking out of the cinema means that such a dream will most definitely not be coming true anytime soon. Absolutely dreadful.
Overall Score: 2/10
“Billy Batson, I Choose You. Say My Name So My Powers Will Become Yours…”
With Marvel managing to sneak in the release of the rather excellent, Captain Marvel, earlier on last month, the originally titled superhero of the same name hits cinemas this week under the mantra of Shazam!, an alias which DC’s most colorful character yet has been burdened with since the early 1970’s after a drawn-out legal battle regarding copyright issues and other boring nonsense. Acting as the next chapter in the slightly improved re-invention of the DC Extended Universe, Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation director, David F. Sandberg, helms a superhero movie which carries on the silly and enjoyable sensibility of 2018’s Aquaman as we are introduced to the character of Asher Angel’s Billy Batson, a troublesome orphan who amidst attempting to locate his long lost family who abandoned him as a child, is quickly handed down the magical and mystical powers belonging to Djimon Hounsou’s (Serenity) titular aging wizard in an attempt to locate his long awaited successor and battle against the evil spirits of the seven deadly sins. With Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman setting the high benchmark for entries into the DC Universe, Sandberg’s movie doesn’t exactly hit such lofty superhero heights, but with a charming, lighter tone and a shorter sense of scale which trades the end of the universe for much quieter stakes, Shazam! is slapstick fun with the added stern baldness of Mark Strong, an element which every film should include.
Coined by myself as Man of Steel meets Instant Family, Sandberg’s journey into the world of comic book heroes does seem like the first entry into the DC universe to actively evoke the joyous family-friendly nature of Marvel’s equivalent gargantuan franchise, a movie which trades gloomy impending doom for a more down-to-earth tale of a hero who after being blessed with such enormous power, does not have the slightest idea in how to use them properly. With the central role shared between Angel and the excellently cast, Zachary Levi, (Thor: Ragnarok) the film’s biggest strength is the relationship between both the reluctant hero and the superhero obsessed, Freddy, as played by Jack Dylan Grazer of It- Chapter One fame, and whilst it would have nicer for the film to indulge ever so slightly more on the relatable elements of the piece, the film does work best when left in the company of the leading duo as they find out the best ways in which to make the most out of such awesome power. Whilst it’s unfortunate for most of the top-end comedic gags to be wasted in the film’s trailers alongside a concluding fight scene which seems to go on for the same length as the Brexit negotiations, Shazam! is the lightest and most Easter egg ridden entry into its’ respective universe so far, and with DC somehow not managing to produce a stinker with its’ last two releases, it seems to fair to say the DCEU is finally heading on the straight and narrow path after all this time.
Overall Score: 6/10
“My Father Was A Lighthouse Keeper. My Mother Was A Queen. But Life Has A Way Of Bringing People Together. They Made Me What I Am…”
With Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and the morbidly depressing, Justice League, all successfully topping the charts for the worst contemporary examples of the superhero genre over the course of the past couple of years, the release of Aquaman ironically ends a twelve month period in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe has undoubtedly solidified itself as the most impressive and respected comic-based franchise ever, which in the process of doing so, effectively ends any chance for their DC Comics counterpart to pull themselves out from the gaping black hole created from their woefully inadequate skills at creating a similarly interesting universe. Aside from Wonder Woman and the first half of Man of Steel, even the most optimistic of DC fanboys must admit Warner Bros in general has ultimately failed in giving the fans what they want, but with every subsequent release there is always a rare ray of hope, and with the release of Aquaman, directed by James Wan, the interesting mind behind the likes of Saw, The Conjuring and most crucially, Furious 7, the DC universe finally has a movie which knows not to take itself too seriously and embrace the notion that when people go to the cinema, they generally want to be entertained. Whilst not exactly reaching the heights of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman or even Man of Steel, Wan’s movie is a partial step in the right direction for the DC universe, an absurdly bonkers aquatic adventure with a central hero who not only is likeable but actually looks like he is having a blast, and for someone who has sat through the likes of Batman vs. Superman, what a relief it is to see the franchise move out of the morbidly depressing and into some sort of optimistic light.
Completely disregarding the overriding sensibility of the universe in which it sits by choosing to utilise a lighter, more welcoming tone which feels more in the ilk of Marvel than any release previously, Aquaman is a film which undoubtedly knows how fundamentally silly the source material truly is, and with shots of a drum playing octopus and armoured sea horses, Wan chooses to embrace the absurdity rather than fall into the trap of the Snyder-led ventures which have attempted to follow the route of Nolan when making the as of yet not bettered, The Dark Knight trilogy. With Momoa pretty much perfectly cast in a role oozing with charisma and charm, the Hawaiian’s physically imposing persona and likeable rockabilly style makes him alongside Gal Gadot, one of the more memorable leading performers in the franchise thus far, and with some interesting supporting performances from the likes of Nicole Kidman, (Lion) Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) and long term Wan counterpart, Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring), the only real minor blimp in terms of the acting slate is Amber Heard (The Danish Girl) whose role as the central love interest is rather underdeveloped and overly two dimensional. With a storytelling technique much simpler than previous entries within the universe and some interesting action scenes when Momoa’s physicality is utilised in a practical sense, the overriding downside is undoubtedly the over-reliance on CGI which makes up a huge percentage of the film’s action, but with the film overall miles head of the worst the DCEU has come to offer, Aquaman is enjoyable enough to be sort of heading in the right direction for a franchise that still falls behind its’ Marvel equivalent by quite a fair margin.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Look In My Eyes, Eddie. The Way I See It, We Can Do Whatever We Want. Do We Have A Deal…?”
With Topher Grace’s long-awaited big screen portrayal of Eddie Brock/Venom in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 opening to a rather mixed response from critics and fans alike, eleven years later, Marvel aficionados finally have the chance to witness a “true” depiction of a character renowned for allowing a more darkened approach to the notion of what makes a “superhero” with the simply named, Venom, which sees Tom Hardy (Dunkirk) take the leading role of the investigative journalist who quickly becomes infested with an alien parasite with a knack for murder and a constant hunger for human flesh. Helmed behind the camera by Zombieland director, Ruben Fleischer, Venom is the latest 15-rated Marvel release after the likes of Deadpool, its’ recent, and better, sequel, and the ever-impressive and staggeringly violent Logan, and whilst not strictly under the bracket of the Marvel Cinematic Universe due to Sony Pictures still reserving the rights to the Venom character amongst others not yet hooked into Kevin Feige’s land of visceral wonder, Fleischer’s movie has been touted as the kickstarter to a fresh new comic franchise or “shared universe” which reportedly has enough love and support from the MCU to be green-lighted in a day and age when, let’s face it, comic-based movies are more constant than time itself.
In a similar way to the Tom Cruise led The Mummy however, a film which seemingly rendered the so-called “Dark Universe” dead in its’ tracks, Venom is equally as messy, convoluted and downright disappointing, a move so wildly inconsistent in tone you wonder if the BBFC were bribed in order to make the film seem darker than it actually is by slapping a 15 rating on top of it, and with all the discussion regarding the dark-natured antithesis of a character such as Venom alongside the success of more “adult” themed comic movies in recent times, Venom is thoroughly and fundamentally frustrating due to a obvious sense of indecision from the filmmakers to head in one tonal direction or the other. Because of this, Venom as a film simply cannot handle the constant switch of tone, ranging from trashy horror to comedy whilst remembering the need for woefully dull CGI action set pieces because of its’ place in the superhero genre, and with underdeveloped, indistinguishable characters, the waste of brilliant talent including Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea) is filmic sacrilege of the highest order. With Hardy trying his best to inject some life into the character, it is the Brit’s performance which sort of makes parts of the movie worthwhile, with the constant bickering interchanges between himself and the growling voice of the infested symbiote sporadically entertaining, but upon leaving Venom, the previous hour and a half ultimately felt meaningless and forgettable, resulting in returning home to admire Netflix’s Daredevil, a comic adaptation with a much darker, much more complex and rewarding tone than anything within Venom, a movie with so much potential which has ended up just bland and cliched. Shame.
Overall Score: 4/10
“It’s Time To Make Some Wrong Things Right. Help Me Bring Supers Back Into The Sunlight…”
With the likes of Inside Out, Zootropolis and this year’s Coco categorically proving that the twentieth century has been open ground for a wide range of superb animation releases, the much anticipated return of the power-inflicted Parr family in Incredibles 2 after a prolonged fourteen year wait since their first appearance on the big screen back in 2004 mightily continues the winning streak which Disney is currently relishing in. Directed and written by Brad Bird, the brains behind the original, whose ventures in between the two films have included the rather enjoyable Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and the not so enjoyable Tomorrowland, Incredibles 2 is a uproariously entertaining animated blockbuster, one which attempts to balance two separate story-lines as it revels in reverting particular familial stereotypes and one which ties into the conventional superhero mould by blending action spectacle with an abundance of rib-tickling humour, and whilst at times the twists and turns are rather unsurprising and the movie carries an overall feeling that two hours is far too long for most movies, let alone an animated feature, Brad Bird’s fourteen year project in the making does have flaws, but thankfully the many positives result in his latest feature being a damn fun ride.
Ditching the real life time gap and picking up three months after events of the first film, Bird’s screenplay sees the Parr family attempting to rebuild their life after the outlawing of superheroes, and with the help of Bob Odenkirk’s (Breaking Bad) Winston Deavor, a superhero-loving millionaire, the matriarchal figure of Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter, The Big Sick) is placed front and centre of a scheme to reintroduce powered saviours back into favour of the world’s ever-watching eyes. With Helen’s absence therefore, the job of stay-at-home parent falls to Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson, Gold) who attempts to juggle the stress of managing his three children and wife’s new found success alongside the threat of the ominous Screenslaver, a tech-savvy terrorist type whose intentions seem to be aimed towards the newly popular band of superheroes. Jumping in and out of the two main narrative strands throughout the course of the movie, the primary superhero plot involving Elastigirl and her discovery of Screenslaver is solid enough fun, incorporating flashy and bright action set pieces including a high speed monorail chase and some epilepsy inducing boss battles, however the real winning streak of the movie falls in events back home with Mr. Incredible, particularly in the discovery of infant Jack-Jack’s new-found powers, an extended gag which offers a wide range of set pieces which genuinely land up there with some of the best on-screen comedy I have ever seen. With eye-catching animation, a heartfelt centrepiece message at the centre of the story and a heavy balance of enough there to fulfil both child and adult audiences alike, Incredibles 2 isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it offers enough of a good time to be more than worth a visit to see its’ ravishing pleasures.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Doing The Right Thing Is Messy. You Want To Fight For What’s Right, Sometimes You Have To Fight Dirty…”
With Avengers: Infinity War concurring global box office domination for the past four weeks or so, it seems only fair that another highly anticipated superhero sequel should try and chip at the financial willingness of a 21st century, comic-hungry audience, and whilst that sequel this week is of course Deadpool 2, it comes at no surprise that Marvel, and more unsurprisingly, Disney, feel the need to make even more eye-watering sums of cash with yet another hot release. I mean come on, it almost feels like yet another Star Wars should be coming out soon, right? Right? Swapping mass universal destruction and gut wrenching superhero genocide for the 15 rated oeuvre in which 2016’s Deadpool graced its’ successful presence, Deadpool 2 swaps original director, Tim Miller, for Atomic Blonde and unaccredited John Wick director, David Leitch, as it attempts to build on the meta-referencing, fourth-wall breaking shenanigans of its’ predecessor and proving the joke of R-rated comic book carnage isn’t as one note as one might expect. With the original Deadpool described in my own review as “not amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless” and a movie which “goes in one ear and carves its’ way out the other in the most violent and adolescent way possible”, it’s ironic how such sentiments echo the feeling of its’ sequel, a movie which takes the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 approach of playing to its’ predecessors strengths and attempting to expand upon them to successful degrees, and whilst Vol.2 never was going to match the success of its’ respective predecessor, Deadpool 2 does manage to complete such a task and whilst Leitch’s movie still isn’t on the same level of excellence as other Marvel alternatives, it’s still a expletive laden ride.
With Ryan Reynolds (Life) returning as the invincible and titular figure of Wade Wilson, the added inclusion of 2018’s man of the year, Josh Brolin, as the time travelling, futuristic cyborg killer, Nathan Summers/Cable, is undeniably one of the more pressing reasons for the sequel’s existence, but with Brolin’s superbly crafted digital performance of Thanos in Infinity War setting a new bar for superhero villains, it’s surprising how little character development Brolin’s Cable is afforded in the movie’s extended two hour runtime, resulting in his character somewhat lacking in memorability even when Brolin is as cool and imposing as ever. With an added level of sentiment within a Looper inspired narrative, particularly aided by the inclusion of Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s, Julian Dennison, the tonal shifts between shock value comedy and gut punching loss does not work well at all, with the early death of an important character not entirely suiting the film’s overly silly sensibility, but with at least eighty percent of the quickfire puns and sharp, slick in-house references resulting in effective laughs, Deadpool 2 feeds the paying audience exactly what they want without ever stopping slow enough to fall out of the carnival-esque state the movie straps you into, and with solid enough action and comedy set pieces, a quickfire editing pace and a combination of brilliantly designed pre and post credit sequences, Deadpool 2 is flashier, more experimental and much more rewarding that its’ first incarnation, but too a movie which begs the question how much longer the joke can be stretched out before it begins to feel slightly tiresome. I’m sure the box office will have the final answer on that one.