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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Satire > Spoof > Action > Comedy > Camp > Sexuality > Literature > Religion > Italy > Deadpool (2016/Marvel/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/What? (1972/Polanski/Severin Blu-ray)

Deadpool (2016/Marvel/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/What? (1972/Polanski/Severin Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B Sound: A- & B+/C+ Extras: B/C Films: B-/C+

Many comedy films go overboard, but only a select few do so with wit or an attempt at irony, outrage, satire or to make unusual points. Oddly, two films that have as much in common as not have just arrived at the same time and give us a chance to examine this approach as they get fearless and then some...

Tim Miller's Deadpool (2016) is the latest entry in the blockbuster superhero genre, with Ryan Reynolds returning as the title character (aka Wade Wilson) he played in a recent X-Men sequel, but he has decided to go with the more comical variant from the pages of the hit Marvel comic. Thus, we get jokes and gags galore, our hero (and anti-hero in a certain sense) talking directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall and being consistently cynical and subversive. That his character is apparently homosexual addresses that general accusation about superheroes that goes back to the genre's beginnings and the witch hunts against comic books in the 1950s makes this version of the character a sort of quiet triumph over those attacks and accusations.

So is the film funny? Sure, though not an outright comedy, it is able to make fun of the genre and its situations because the writers know their way around the genre. Not that it is funny all the time, as some jokes and situations are predictable, fall flat and/or will have their best impact on diehard fanboys and fangals, yet the film covers those false notes (depending on your opinion on what does and does not work) with its cynicism. Reynolds pushed hard for this and this is one of his best films and some of his best work ever, balancing his ability to do comedy and still be physical, playing also on similarities between two other Marvel heroes and his here: Wolverine (they both have regeneration powers and dark back stories) and Spider-Man (from the costume to going even further with the wisecracks than the webslinger).

Besides the usual origins tale, which the script does not overly focus on to its credit, its takes advantage of its R-rating out kickassing Kick-Ass, being a solid comedy at its best beyond the confines of the genre and being a flipside of the counterculture Marvel Comics of the 1970s that helped make this character and film possible and follows very well in the footsteps of Marvel's non-superhero Guardians Of The Galaxy (2015, reviewed elsewhere on this site). Fox cut the budget, but the makers managed to pull of a solid-enough film here, yet I really like the fact that the studio, so-called film experts and even savvy analysis did not see the connection to Guardians and vastly underestimated the potential box-office of the film. Reynolds and company and more than vindicated with the massive amount of money it has made since and they manage to keep up the keyed-up sense of comedy, darkness thematically and visually always present to their credit.

The film holds no prisoners in who it insults on or off-screen, taking advantage of the broken wall strategy by filling it up with other ideas. We get some fun counterpoints, true wit and even that rarity in Hollywood filmmaking of any kind, irony. In jokes even extend to rival DC Comics, one of the biggest surprises here, but Reynolds get away with it having worked for that group too and fans like that aspect more than you might think. Not to ruin any surprises (outside of punchlines), the turn by T.J. Miller as Weasel is a plus, but the real surprise is Leslie Uggams in an ace turn as Blind Al, maybe the only person who can match Deadpool's bitter, cynical side. She is one of the most pleasant surprises in the film and the kind we expect in all superhero features.

Even when the jokes become sexually explicit (sex never seems happy here), it is not shades of the 1960s or 1970s, including because times have changed. However, that does not take away any of their bite. The line between hero and villain is sort of blurred a bit with Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) turning up, but cheers to Gina Carano as Angel Dust in a great fit for her talent looking for a character to match. Ed Skrein's villainous Ajax also works well enough, though there are a few plot issues you might notice throughout. Even when this gets serious or even gruesome, it has so many outlandish moments that it gets to run counter to the serious entries in the genre and get away with it. Thus, any of the violence, no matter how bad, has its own context to the story and plot. It is not as bad versus some of the sloppy integration we've seen in recent years between story and violence that is overdone. It is not a perfect film, but the absurdity is consistent and I have to say it picks up where the underrated 2004 Thomas Jane Punisher started with its smart approach to down to earth friends you'd find in the comics more often than on the big screen.

To say anymore would be to turn this review into an essay, but I'm glad this was a surprise that turned out well-enough and a sequel should be at least as good. Sometimes, the film is a reflection of society today, but at its best, it is the returned of some repressed approaches to comedy and even thinking that is long overdue, so I'd definitely recommend Deadpool.

Roman Polanski's What? (1972) is an odd film the controversial (on and off screen) filmmaker made after the huge success of Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Macbeth (1971, both issued on Criterion Blu-ray), taking place in the counterculture if the time with Synde Rome as Nancy (who is supposed to be from the U.S.), traveling Italy when the men she's with try to gang rape her! Played comically, she escapes and leaves them behind, but where she lands up is in absurd situation after weird encounter with eccentrics and clueless people in a Polanski variant to some extent of Alice In Wonderland. However, it has weird sexual overtones at times, she's half-naked often and the behavior and critiques of people are in a Luis Bunuel mode to some extent, so it is being critical of the excess of the character's sexcapades. Marcello Mastroianni is a pimp with VD, whose meant to be amusing, but plays as underdeveloped as the supporting characters, things happen without explanation, characters who would usually not show up in the same space (we get a priest here, as well as some other religious signifiers), Polanski plays a character and when all was said and done, you can see why the film got the title it got.

Though not a total disaster in this finally available uncut version of the film, even with the freestyle, sense of the then naturalistic counterculture of the time (i.e., less angry and with some sense of uncynical joy, foiled constantly here) that he might be trying to tie to the Alice book, this becomes one of those films where only Polanski knows what he is trying to say and what it means. Good for him, but that makes it an odd, interesting failure at best, even with solid supporting performers including Hugh Griffith, Alvaro Vitali, Guido Alberti, Romolo Valli and the ever-uncredited Richard McNamara. There are some odd moments of violence after the rape, all played in serio-comic fashion, consistent with the film, but I never laughed and was only so amused when I was not disappointed. The result is a film for Polanski and foreign film lovers only, as others might find it too challenging or failed. At least its been saved.

The 2160p 2.35 X 1 HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Deadpool was apparent finished in 4K, even when some cameras ands CGI were a little less than that, but the slightly darkened image has some good detail and color range as intended that outdoes the sometimes flatter 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the regular Blu-ray also included. This puts in to some extent in the graphic novel comic category visually, but I wanted to add another visual strategy may be at work. There are possible visual references to any number of things here, but I was particularly struck at the tendency to reference the five Spider-Man feature films and how the breaking of the fourth wall moments, as a result, land up looking like sort of the Spidey Super Stories segments of the original Electric Company in the 1970s that have a strange kinship to those moments in this film. Something to consider, but it works.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on What? can show the age of the materials used a bit, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, especially since the film is uncut and offers a fresh new HD master shot with real anamorphic Todd AO 35 lenses (underrated as far as I'm concerned) on 35mm film as he had used on Macbeth. The result is a film that looks pretty good throughout and uses the scope frame wisely, with performance falling between the two Deadpool discs in playback quality. Technicolor did the labwork on the film, but 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints of the film may not have been issued in the U.S. for some reason, but only overseas. Not enough information on this was available as we posted this coverage, but color is often really good here just the same.

As for sound, Deadpool offers two different formats on its two discs. The 4K 2160 Ultra HD Blu-ray offers Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless soundtrack, while the regular 1080p Blu-ray has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix. I like both, but the Atmos is the superior playback option with the full impact of the soundmix on display in one of the more effective soundmixes of late. Both also offer the D-BOX motion/bass option for those few who have that equipment for their home theater setups.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 English Mono lossless sound on What? is as good as can be expected for a theatrical monophonic sound of the time and has been restored well enough, though you can tell where dialogue has been dubbed and that might distract some people.

Extras on Deadpool include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, then we get two feature length audio commentary tracks on both disc versions (one by Ryan Reynolds and Screenwriters Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, the other by Director Tim Miller and Deadpool Co-Creator/Comics Artist Rob Liefeld), while the regular Blu-ray adds

Deleted/Extended Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Tim Miller, a Gag Reel, From Comics to Screen...to Screen, Gallery (Concept Art, Costumes, Storyboards, Pre-vis, Stunt-vis) and Deadpool's Fun Sack. Of course, we now have the sequel covered in its 4K edition elsewhere on this site.

What? offers an Original Theatrical Trailer and three Making Of interview featurettes: Sydne In Wonderland (interview With Star Sydne Rome), Memories Of A Young Pianist (interview With Composer Claudio Gizzi) and A Surreal Pop Movie (interview With Cinematographer Marcello Gatti) all worth your time after seeing the film.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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