“Deadpool” (R) 4 stars (out of 4)
The Marvel Comics superhero movie genre has turned a big page with “Deadpool,” an insanely entertaining origins story of the anti-hero superhero that erases the stained memories of the character’s big-screen debut in “X-Men Origins” in 2009. Oddly enough, “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds also played the “Merc with a Mouth” in that film — which was trashed by fans – but makes things right with this gritty, F-bomb-laden, ultra-violent and hilarious R-rated adaptation of the comic book icon.
Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, an ex-Special Forces op who, after meeting and falling in love with former call girl Vanessa Carlysle (a stunning Morena Baccarin), is diagnosed with terminal cancer. But through a mysterious invitation, Wade is given a chance at a cure that involves a sadistic experiment that turns him into a mutant with miraculous healing capabilities. Unfortunately, the treatment left him horribly scarred, leading him on a path of revenge in the guise of a blood-red suited vigilante he names “Deadpool.”
Reynolds, whose career has been uneven in the past few years (including the lukewarm movie version of “The Green Lantern”), makes a storming comeback here, and he’s clearly in his element every minute he’s onscreen. If there ever was an actor to the-bad-guy-who-Fs-up-the-worse-guys, Reynolds is it. As entertaining as Reynolds is, he gives plenty of room for his supporting cast to shine, which includes the hilarious T.J. Miller as his wise-cracking best buddy and confidant, Weasel, and Ed Skrein as the scientist, Ajax, who unsuccessfully failed in his bid to turn Wade into a killing machine for his own, sick purposes. MMA star Gina Carano also packs wallop as Ajax’s deadly assistant, Angel, and Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand create a welcome X-Men presence as Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, respectively.
“Zoolander No. 2” (PG-13) 2 stars (out of 4)
There’s a scene early on in “Zoolander No. 2” where long lost fashion stars Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are invited back to the runway for what seems to be their comeback, but instead are duped into wearing costumes that come with the labels “Old” and “Lame.”
Old and lame. Got that right.
Sadly, lame is the best way to describe “Zoolander No. 2,” the long-awaited sequel to the hilarious 2001 original. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many places to take vacuous characters like Derek and Hansel, because if they do become self-aware or smarter, for example, they simply wouldn’t be Derek and Hansel.
There’s a reason it took 15 years for this movie to make it the big-screen, and the new film – which manufactures a plot around a “chosen one” male model — is utterly disappointing. Filled with forced humor and multiple meaningless (and sometimes embarrassing) star cameos, the film only comes off as mildly entertaining thanks to the wild antics of Will Ferrell (returning as fashion mogul Mugatu) and Kristen Wiig as a Donatella Versace-like designer with some tricks up her sleeve.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of 4)
“The Finest Hours” 3 1/2 stars (PG-13) (out of 4)
“Kung Fu Panda 3” (PG) 3 stars (out of 4)
“Where to Invade Next” (R) 1/2 star (out of 4)