MOVIE BUFF-ET: Deadpool ushers the year of the super hero into theaters

Twentieth Century Fox

In case you didn’t know, it’s the year of the super hero as far as movies are concerned.

“Wait, hasn’t it been, like, the century of super heroes at the movies, you might ask sarcastically? Why is this THE year of the super hero?”

Yes, super heroes have become more and more prevalent since the success of the Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie in 2000. There has hardly been a year since without at least one film based on characters whose roots began in comic books. The super hero is now practically its own film genre.

This year, however, the super hero hits critical mass on the big screen. There aren’t just two or three super-hero films in the pipeline. No less than eight super-hero movies are scheduled to open between today with Fox’s Deadpool and Nov. 4 when Marvel introduces its master of the mystic arts Doctor Strange to the big screen.

New In Local Theaters

  • 2016 Oscar Nominated Short Films (NR) 1 hr. 25 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square)
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  • Deadpool (R) 1 hr. 48 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • How to Be Single (R) 1 hr. 50 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
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  • Krishna Gaadi Veera Preamp Gaadha (NR) 2 hrs. 25 min.
    (Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • Zoolander 2 (PG-13) 1 hr. 42 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
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It’s a virtual four-color explosion:
Feb. 12Deadpool
March 25Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
May 6Captain America: Civil War
May 27X-Men Apocalypse
June 3Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Darkness
Aug. 5Suicide Squad
Oct. 7Gambit
Nov. 4Doctor Strange

While fan boys are rejoicing, some wonder if the heft of so many releases in such a short span might cause a super-powered implosion. Only time will tell, but Rotten Tomatoes lists Deadpool at 83% positive on its metric of reviews. The movie also has a stunning 99% on the website’s want-to-see meter.

That has to make Fox happy going into Valentine’s Day weekend. The film starring Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin and directed by Tim Miller is R-rated, which reduces what normally is the target audience for a super hero movie. Parents will likely be buying a lot of tickets for their not-of-age teens this weekend. However the rating befits the potty-mouthed anti-hero known as the mercenary with the mouth.

The self-aware assassin breaks down the fourth wall, spewing profane wisecracks as easily as he does bullets. With hard-core violence, sexual situations and language that will curl your mustache, the film is definitely not family friendly. However most of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes found the movie to be action-packed, fast-paced and funny.

Dissenting views insist that the movie failed to hit its mark. Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper wrote, “If only Deadpool were as clever, dark or funny as it believes itself to be.”

Brian Tallerico of called the film “a remarkably generic, by-the-numbers man-in-tights flick.” Tallerico’s criticism is a hurdle all super hero films must find a way to negotiate if the genre is not to be crushed under its own weight. Fans already grouse about the similarity of plots and their boredom with origin films.

There is no doubt Reynolds, who played a less-accurate version of the character in a supporting part in Wolverine: Origins, is a charming, funny leading man, but all his charm failed to lift the 2011 Warner Bros. super-hero film Green Lantern off the ground. However, it is unfair to frame Reynolds as the culprit. Reportedly, the movies script was revamped and rewritten as the film was shot.

Reynolds’ character openly pokes fun at that failed production in Deadpool, ad in recent interviews, Reynolds remarked that a film needs more than an idea and a poster to be a success.

Deadpool, created by artist Rob Liefeld and scripter Fabian Nicieza in 1991 for the X-Men spinoff comic “The New Mutants,” is one of the most popular characters in Marvel’s current publishing roster because of its irreverent humor and graphic violence. The movie is a litmus test for sharper-edged super-hero fare on the big screen.

Marvel hit the mark quality-wise with its critically acclaimed Jessica Jones TV show on Netflix, which is drastically more adult-themed than any super-hero show that has aired on television.

Fox may be able to do the same with Deadpool at the movies. However, Netflix does not release Nielson-type ratings for its streamed shows. Only educated guesses can be made about how many viewers any of Netflix’s programs draw.

We’ll know by the end of the weekend whether Deadpool hit or missed its mark at the box office.

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies

(PG-13), 1 hr. 48 min.

Photo: Jay Maidment / CTMG, Inc.

I have to say I was prideful and prejudiced in my opinions about this movie, and absolutely wrong. I was expecting much when I sat down to watch it.

While Jane Austen is a historically important novelist and was extremely talented, her work is just not my cup of tea. Likewise, zombies hold very little interest for me. But this mash-up based on the 2009 parody by Seth Grahame-Smith totally surprised me and kept me amused.

Granted the fetching Lilly James (Downton Abbey and Cinderella) had a lot to do with changing my opinion. She plays Elizabeth Bennet as a 19th-century version Buffy the Vampire Slayer-type, who focuses her butt-whipping skills on a different species of the un-dead.

In fact, all the Bennet girls have been trained in the martial arts in China and are nearly as adept their sister at fending of the gory hosts of zombies who plague the British countryside and are threatening to overrun London.

Much like its 14th-century predecessor the Black Plague, the zombie-plague has swept itself across Europe and is threatening all forms of life. Like a knight of old, Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) along with other aristocrats and commoners alike wage war against the invading un-dead horde. He meets Elizabeth and her sister Jane on a mission to root out zombies at a party.

Take away the zombies, and the movie follows a similar course to the one Austen charted in her novel, but the sparring between Darcy and Elizabeth does become as much martial as verbal.

Look, this isn’t a great movie, and no kid should mistakenly use it as source for a book report on Pride and Prejudice, but it is entertaining if you just go along for the ride. Only the most ardent Austen or horror fans should see it in the theater, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, when this hits Red Box or cable, it’s a good bit of fun.

Classics Corner

Ah, Valentine’s Day is coming upon us fast, and if you need to get into the mood, here are three movies that just might help.

The Philadelphia Story is a pure delight from 1940 when Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart were at or nearly at the height of their game. Director George Cukor pits Hepburn and Grant against each other as a divorced couple, who just can’t seem to get out of each other’s way, and don’t really want to. In an Oscar-winning role, Stewart is a tabloid journalist who falls hard for Hepburn while on assignment to cover her wedding. The question is Grant on hand to torture his ex-wife or win her back?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is probably Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic role as the society gal Holly Golightly in the Blake Edwards’ 1961 classic that also feature George Peppard as her male doppelganger. Both are golddiggers, living off the money of their keepers, but find themselves strangely drawn together when their lives intermingle. The film features the Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer standard Moon River, which won an Oscar for Best Song. After seeing the film, it’s hard to hear the song without thinking of Hepburn’s funny face and vice versa.

There is no bad time to watch Casablanca, but Valentine’s weekend is as good an excuse as any. The 1942 Michael Curtiz film vaulted Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from stardom to iconic-level status as film gained popularity over the years. As the star-crossed lovers Rick and Ilsa, Bogart and Bergman, struggle with following their hearts or with making choices for the greater good. As great as they are in the film, the supporting cast of Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt Dooley Wilson and Paul Henried add strength and character to the nearly perfect film. I’m not sure if any movie has a more appropriate theme song than “As Time Goes By.”