Nearly everything about the original Deadpool was fresh and funny, from the opening credits to the parody of Marvel movie finales. I’m not a fan of self-referential films but this one had so much energy and sheer bravado that it won me over, on the whole. Deadpool 2 suffers the fate of so many sequels: we’ve seen its best ideas before.

Ryan Reynolds shares screenplay credit this time around, but apparently no ideas were discarded on the path from script to screen. The film is so cluttered with smartass jokes that it never stops to take a breath—a problem imparted to us in the audience. My least favorite line: “Big CGI fight coming up.” Even the star cameos don’t come across as effectively as they should because the pace is so hectic.

I can’t completely dislike a film whose hero quotes a famous punchline from Jack Benny’s radio show, but Deadpool 2 wears out its welcome. The “meta” approach and snarky attitude can only carry it so far. Yes, director David Leitch (a former stuntman and stunt coordinator) provides some truly spectacular action scenes, but the violence is extreme and the trajectory of the story wildly uneven.

Reynolds and his alter ego have a big following, I know, but a little of Deadpool goes a long way for me. Josh Brolin as the bad-guy-from-the-future is a major asset (and of course, there is a jokey reference to Thanos) but the other cast members don’t have much to bring to the table. (The versatile Eddie Marsan is completely wasted.)

Devotees will likely disagree with me (and make snarky comments of their own), but I didn’t have nearly as much fun as Ryan Reynolds seemed to onscreen. Cue another explosion.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024