Saturday, June 30, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story was written by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, and directed by Ron Howard (more or less).

Jonathan Kasdan, as you might have guessed, is the son of famous screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. He previously wrote In The Land Of Women and The First Time, neither of which I've ever heard of. 


Jonathan's pops Lawrence Kasdan penned some of the most famous and successful movies of the past thirty years. He previously wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Body Heat, Continental Divide, The Return Of The Jedi, The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, Grand Canyon, The Bodyguard, Wyatt Earp, Mumford, Dreamcatcher (I guess you can't write a winner every time) and Darling Companion (whatever that is). He co-wrote Star Wars: Episode VII– The Force Awakens along with JJ Abrams and Michael Arndt.

Ron Howard's an actor turned director, with a reputation for making competent but unremarkable films. He previously directed Grand Theft Auto (the movie, not the video game series), Night Shift, Splash, Cocoon, Gung Ho, Willow, Parenthood, Backdraft, Far And Away, The Paper, Apollo 13, Ransom, EdTV, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, The Missing, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon, Angels & Demons, Rush, In The Heart Of The Sea and Inferno. Whew!


So how's the film? Surprisingly it's not bad! I enjoyed most of it quite a bit, with a few eye-rolling exceptions. It's a fast-paced little adventure story, and much more fun than The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And it's about a thousand times better than the execrable The Last Jedi, which pretty much killed my life-long love for Star Wars altogether.

As fun as it is though, Solo highlights a major problem with Disney's Star Wars films. Basically they have absolutely no idea what to do with the franchise, so they keep looking to the past and duplicating what worked decades ago.


The Force Awakens was a virtual remake of A New Hope. Rogue One told the incredibly unnecessary story of how the Rebels stole the Death Star Plans in A New Hope. The Last Jedi was a bizarre retelling of The Empire Strikes Back, with huge swathes of The Return Of The Jedi thrown in for good measure.

And now Disney's announced two more retro projects: An Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, which by necessity will have to be set between the Prequel and Original Trilogies, and a Boba Fett standalone movie.

See the problem here? Disney doesn't know how to move forward, as they're too busy strip mining the past for content. Eventually they're going to have to figure out something new to do with the franchise, or we're gonna get a Greedo standalone film, right after Porkins: A Star Wars Story.

By now you've probably heard about all the behind the scenes turmoil on Solo. The film was original helmed by the team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who previously directed Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street. Movies that made them the perfect choice to helm a Star Wars film.


Anyway, late in the process, Disney decided they didn't like the work Lord and Miller were turning in, and fired them due to "creative differences." 

They then brought in Ron Howard to take over the project. Disney claimed Howard was just filming a few reshoots, which is standard procedure in Hollywood these days. Crew members who actually worked on the film though reported that Howard reshot over EIGHTY PERCENT of the film!

Given all that, it's a wonder the film turned out as well as it did.

So far the film is a dismal box office failure, grossing just $357 million worldwide. While that might sound like a lot to you and me, it's pathetically low for a Star Wars movie. Bad as it was, The Last Jedi managed to gross $1.3 BILLION in its theatrical run!

Solo's $357 million take is also nothing compared to its massive budget, which Disney claims was $275 million. That's most likely a lie, as many sources who actually worked on the film claim that Ron Howards's extensive reshoots practically doubled the original budget.

Due to marketing and other hidden costs, movies need to make about twice their production budget just to break even. If Solo cost approximately $500 million to make, it'd need to gross a cool BILLION before it turns a profit! Obviously that's not going to happen. 


That's a shame too, as it's not a terrible film. I was even looking forward to additional films featuring young Han Solo and his friends. Sadly, given this film's poor box office showing, it's extremely unlikely that'll happen now.

SPOILERS FOR A PREQUEL DETAILING THE LIFE OF A CHARACTER CREATED IN 1977.

The Plot:
We begin on the ship building world of Corellia
— a bleak, dark industrial world. Actually everything's dark in this movie, but that's a story for another time. A young man named Han (played by Alden Ehrenreich) hot wires a speeder and roars off in it. 

As he flies down the street, we see a pair of gold alien dice hanging from the windshield— his good luck charm. He returns to the orphanage where he lives, which is run by Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), an enormous worm-like alien. Much like a Dickensian character, Proxima sends her orphans out on missions to pilfer and steal whatever they can and bring it back to her.

Han sees his girlfriend Qi'ra (played by Emelia Clarke), and excitedly shows her a vial of coaxium (the substance that fuels hyperdrive engines) he just stole. It's such a valuable commodity they'll be able to use it to buy their way off of Corellia and live anywhere they want. He gives the vial to Qi'ra for safe keeping, along with his lucky dice (PLOT POINT ALERT!).

Just then several guards grab Han and drag him before Lady Proxima. She demands he hand over the goods from his latest mission, but he says things went badly and he barely managed to escape with his life. Proxima doesn't believe him, and orders her guards to beat him.

Han pulls out a rock and pretends it's a thermal detonator, which fools no one. He throws the rock through a window, and a beam of sunlight stabs through (even though minutes ago we saw it was nighttime). Proxima shrieks and dives into her pool of water. Han grabs Qi'ra and they run for it.

Han & Qi'ra jump in his stolen speeder and drive off. They head for the nearest space port, intending to use the coaxium to book passage on the next ship leaving the planet. Suddenly they're rammed from behind by a larger speeder, piloted by Proxima's men.

Han tries to lose the goons by flying through a crowded factory. The speeder gets stuck in a narrow corridor and he and Qi'ra flee on foot. They make it to the spaceport and lose themselves in the crowd, hiding from both Proxima's guards and squads of Imperial stormtroopers.

They step up to the gate and an Imperial Officer asks for their travel papers. As they have none, they bribe the guard with the coaxium. She lets them pass, but just as they step through the gate Qi'ra's grabbed by one of Proxima's men and dragged away. The gate closes with Han on the other side. He tearfully tells Qi'ra he'll come back for her, no matter how long it takes.

Han spots a nearby Imperial recruitment station. Having no other options, he decides to enlist in the Imperial Navy so he can become a pilot. A bored Recruitment Officer asks for his full name, and he replies, "Just Han." Needing something to fill in the blank, the Officer assigns him the last name of "Solo." GASP! This is moment in which he got his iconic name, as the entire audience audibly groans.

Cut to three years later. We see Han's been kicked out of the Flight Academy and is now an Imperial infantryman, fighting on the mud planet of Mimban. When his entire squad is wiped out by enemy fire, he sees a trio of nearby soldiers and decides to tag along with them.

Han soon realizes these soldiers are actually a group of smugglers: Tobias Beckett (played by Woody Harrelson), the leader, Val (played by Thandie Newton), his girlfriend, and four-armed alien Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau). He asks to join their crew, but Beckett tells him to get lost. When Han threatens to turn them in to the authorities, Beckett reveals the Imperial Officers answer to him (?). I guess he bribed them or something? Who knows. Beckett has Han arrested and thrown into a mud pit, where he's to be eaten by the creature that inhabits it.

Inside the pit, Han hears the creature growling. It rushes toward him, and Han realizes it's a large Wookiee. It attacks Han, pinning him in the mud as it violently chokes him. Han manages to gurgle out a trilling growl, which makes the Wookiee stop in its tracks. That's right— Han not only understands the Wookiee language, but can speak it as well. Sigh...

Han tells the Wookiee he has an escape plan, and points to a large pole supporting the grated ceiling of the pit. The Wookiee gets the idea and uses his brute strength to knock down the pole, causing the ceiling to collapse. Why the Wookiee never thought to do this himself a long time ago isn't made clear.

Han and the Wookiee escape, just in time to see Beckett and his crew take off in their ship. They run after the ship, begging for it to stop. Beckett sees Han and is so impressed with his moxie he actually lands and takes them aboard (which infuriates the no-fun Val). The ship leaves Mimban and blasts off into space. Han asks the Wookiee his name, and he says it's "Chewbacca." GASP! This is the iconic moment the two of them met! Han says he's not saying that every time, and shortens his name to "Chewie." GASP! This is how Chewie got his iconic nickname!

Some time later, the crew gathers around a campfire on the snow planet of Vandor-1. Beckett asks Han what his deal is. Val correctly guesses he has a girl back home. Han says she's right, and he'll do anything to rescue her. When they ask how he knows she's even still alive, the wide-eyed Han says he just knows.

Beckett says he and his crew are working for Dryden Vos, a major player in the criminal organization known as Crimson Dawn. Vos has ordered them to steal a huge shipment of coaxium from a train trundling through the mountains on Vandor-1. They intend to lower their ship over the train, attach towing cables to one of the cars, uncouple it and fly off with the shipment. If all goes well, they'll each have make enough dough to live out the rest of their lives as millionaires.

Beckett tells Han he'll need a weapon if he's gonna be part of the team. He disassembles a rifle into a small hand blaster, and casually tosses it to Han. GASP! This is the moment he got his iconic, trademark weapon!

Cut to the next day, as a bizarre double train, with cars above and below the track, barrels though the mountains. True to the plan, Rio flies the ship over the train, and Beckett, Han and Chewie jump onto one of the cars. Meanwhile, Val zip-lines several miles ahead, where she plants explosives on the track for some reason.

Beckett and the others attach the towing cables to one of the coaxium-filled cars. Unfortunately they attract the attention of a squad of Stormtroopers guarding the shipment. They use their magnetic boots to stick to the sides of the rapidly tilting train, and begin firing on the smugglers. Eventually Beckett's crew wipes out the Troopers.

But they're not out of the woods yet! Suddenly a swarm of speeder bikes appear and fire on the smugglers. It's the Cloud Riders, a gang of space pirates led 
by the infamous Empty Nest  Enfys Nest. The Riders attach their own cables to the train car, intending to steal it for themselves. Note that there are at least twenty other cars in the train that the Riders could easily steal, so it's not clear why they want THIS one so badly.

Han and the others fight back, killing several of the Riders. One of them infiltrates Beckett's ship, and there's a brief shootout before Rio kills the Raider. Sadly, he's mortally wounded in the process, causing the ship to veer wildly. Beckett tells Han to take over. He leaps onto the ship just in time to see Rio die. Han slips into the pilot seat and takes over.

Meanwhile, Val's attacked by a group of flying guard droids. She holds them off, but is wounded as well. As the droids swoop in for the kill, she detonates the explosives, sacrificing her life in order to save Beckett and the mission.

Chewie uncouples the train car, and he and Beckett jump onto the ship. Han flies off with the car in tow, but the Raiders try to drag it in the opposite direction. Han's alarmed when he sees they're heading straight for a mountain. Beckett orders him to stay on course, saying the Raiders will chicken out and release their cables.

Unfortunately Han panics, and severs the cables as he flies away. The train car slams into the mountain, and the unstable coaxium inside causes a massive implosion, taking out the surrounding geography and killing most of the Cloud Raiders. The survivors— including Enfys Nest of course— wisely flee.

We then see Beckett burying his fallen comrades on the alien world. I guess Val's grave must have been symbolic, since it's unlikely she left any remains for burial. He then punches Han in the face for ruining the mission. Yeah, take that, Han! How dare you have no control over the fact that the Cloud Raiders showed up! Beckett's perfectly fine after this, as if his girlfriend and pilot never existed at all.

Beckett tells Han he should leave (how?), as Dryden Vos will be arriving any second. He says Vos'll be mighty upset when he finds out they don't have his coaxium, and will likely kill them all. Han says he ain't a-scared and says he and Chewie are staying.

Just then Vos' skyscraper-like ship appears and lands. Beckett, Han and Chewie enter and are taken to Vos' penthouse apartment at the top. Since this is a Star Wars movie, the penthouse is filled with dozens of aliens drinking at the bar.

Amazingly, Han runs into his old flame Qi'ra in the bar! He tells her he's sorry about what happened, and says he's been trying to make it back to Corellia to rescue her. Qi'ra says she's started working for Vos shortly after Han left. He notes she has a Crimson Dawn logo tattooed (or maybe branded, it's too dark to tell) on her wrist, and realizes there's more to her story than she's telling.

Just then Vos (played by Paul Bettany) appears. He's a sophisticated yet slimy human with bizarre scars all over his face, which might be the result of an accident or could be self inflicted— who knows? He invites Beckett, Han and Chewie into his private office. Qi'ra follows along.

As predicted, Vos is royally pissed that Beckett doesn't have his coaxium, and regretfully says he'll have to kill them all. As his guards raise their weapons, Han suggests they find him some more. He says there's a huge cache of coxium under the spice mines on Kessel. GASP! THE SPICE MINES OF KESSEL! I KNOW THAT!

Vos says the problem with that plan is unrefined coaxium is highly unstable, and has to be processed quickly after mining or it'll explode. They'd need an impossibly fast ship and a skilled pilot to get it a refinery in time. Qi'ra pipes up and says she knows where they can get a ship, and Han boasts that he's the best pilot in the galaxy. Vos thinks it over and agrees to give them one last chance, and says it they fail they're all dead. He orders Qi'ra to go with them, much to her dismay.

Qi'ra takes Han and Chewie to meet Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover), a charming con man who owns his own ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabaac, with the winner getting the other's ship (even though Han doesn't actually have one). Han pretends to be a newbie, but is actually quite a skilled player and seemingly beats Lando. Unfortunately Lando's a cheat, and literally has a card up his sleeve in a retractable holder. He uses this card to beat Han.

Lando then demands Han's ship, and he sheepishly admits he doesn't have one. Qi'ra tells 
him about the coaxium, and says if he helps them with the Kessel job, he'll have enough money to retire. Lando thinks it over and for some reason agrees to join them.

Lando picks up his co-pilot, a "female" droid named L3-37. She's a parody of both feminists and SJWs, as she constantly tells the other droids around her they're being exploited and should rise up and overthrow their masters. She's also the most irritating character in the entire goddamned franchise since Jar Jar Binks.

The group enters an underground hangar, where Lando shows them his ship— the Millennium Falcon. GASP! This is the iconic moment where Han first sees the Falcon! I... I think I'm going to swoon! Lando's upset to discover the ship's been booted, which I guess is a thing in the Star Wars universe. Beckett says he can remove the boot, but it'll lower Lando's share of the bounty. He reluctantly agrees. The group takes off for Kessel.

During the flight, L3 engages in girl talk with Qi'ra, and implies that she and Lando are in a physical relationship. Jesus wept.

They arrive at Kessel, which sits in the center of a treacherous and nonsensical region of space, surrounded by dangerous storms and massive "carbon-bergs." Sure, why not. They follow a marked "safe" route to the surface and land.

Qi'ra poses as a regional governor (Hey, that's from A New Hope!), and presents Han and Chewie as slaves to the head of the mining facility. Lando stays on board, recording his memoirs (?), while L3 traipses around and tells her fellow droids to throw off the shackles of their servitude and get woke. I just don't know anymore...

Han and Chewie are taken inside the mines, where they overpower their guards. As they look for the vault containing the coaxium, Chewie sees a group of enslaved Wookiees. He tells Han he has to try and free them, and they split up.

Han finds the vault and begins loading coaxium containers onto a cart. Meanwhile, L3's boneheaded actions cause a goddamned riot, as her liberated droids begin opening the slave pens. Hundreds of slaves then revolt against their masters, causing complete chaos.

Han struggles to push the heavy coaxium-laden cart back to the ship. Suddenly Chewie returns to help. His fellow freed Wookiees cover them as they load the coaxium into the Falcon.

Lando shrieks when the guards begin firing at his pristine white ship. He fires on the guards, and tells L3 to haul her metal ass back to the ship so they can take off. Just then she takes a blaster hit to the chest, as the audience rises to its feet and cheers. Lando cradles the annoying droid, and is wounded himself as he drags her upper torso back to the Falcon.

Since Lando's checked out and in no state to fly, Beckett tells Han he's the pilot now. He fires up the Falcon and blasts off. Lando cradles L3 in his arms as she powers down and dies. Thank the Baby Motherfraking Jesus!

Unfortunately the Falcon's path out of the Kessel Run is blocked by a massive Imperial Star Destroyer, which sends out a squad of TIE Fighters. Apparently the Empire somehow heard about the coaxium heist and arrived within thirty seconds.

As the ship's rocked by TIE Fighter blasts, Han says their only hope is to leave the safe route out of Kessel and head through The Maw— a deadly cluster of black holes. Lando points out that there's no route through the cluster that's less than twenty parsecs, which will take too long and cause the unstable coaxium to explode.

Han remembers that L3 had a sophisticated navigational database in her head, and suggests uploading it into the ship so they can pilot a quick & safe way out. Qi'ra apologizes to L3's metallic corpse, rips the hard drive out of her head and plugs it into the Falcon's nav computer. Sigh... that's right, folks. The goddamned Millennium Falcon was just retconned into containing the mind of a feminist, SJW droid.

The ship plots a course out of The Maw, and Han flies them through it. Suddenly they're attacked by a massive space squid or something. Han gets an idea and flies dangerously close to one of the gravity wells. The creature follows, and is pulled in and torn apart. Unfortunately the Falcon's caught too, as the well begins dragging it in.

Han suggests adding a drop of coaxium to the ship's reactor to help them break free. Beckett does so, and just as the Falcon's about to be pulled in, the coaxium gives them the extra boost they need to rocket out of the dangerous region. Because he took a short cut, Han brags that he... get ready for it... made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. GASP! This is the iconic moment in which he first said the thing we know!

The battered Falcon barely makes it to Savareen, where they begin processing and stabilizing the coaxium in the nick of time. Lando looks at his ruined ship and tells Han he hates him. Just then, Empty Enfys Nest and the Cloud Riders show up (???), demanding the entire shipment of coaxium.

Han cockily points to the Falcon, and tells Nest it's filled with several dozen deadly smugglers. He says all he has to do is snap his fingers and they'll emerge and wipe out the Riders. Wait, weren't they all killed during the train heist? Did Nest recruit some more in the past day? Anyway, right on cue, Lando takes off in the Falcon, leaving Han with space egg on his space face.

Enfys Nest removes his helmet, revealing he's really a young Maya Rudolph teenage girl. She says her mother was from Savareen, and Crimson Dawn agents raped and pillaged the place years ago. She's now doing everything in her power to keep the coaxium out of the criminal organization's hands. Han and Beckett discuss what they should do.

Suddenly Vos' ship arrives and lands. Han, Qi'ra and Chewie take a sample case of coaxium to Vos' penthouse. He examines a vial, declares it's fake and accuses Han of selling the real stuff to the Riders. Vos reveals he has an "inside man" who told him this plan, and reveals it's Beckett. Han and the others are gobsmacked by this stunning information, even though he's the only person it could possibly have been.

Han then says he anticipated Beckett's betrayal, and the coaxium he sold to the Riders is actually fake (?). It's a double double cross! A fight breaks out in the penthouse, as both Han and Qi'ra attack Vos. In the confusion, Beckett grabs the coaxium, takes Chewie hostage and leaves.

Qi'ra battles Vos and ends up stabbing him in the heart. She then tells Han to go after the coaxium and rescue Chewie. She says she has a few things to take care of first (?), but will join him soon. She's obviously lying and has no intention of following him, but Han believes her and runs off anyway.

Even though Beckett had a good ten minute start, Han somehow appears in front of him. They banter for a bit, and then Han decides he's had enough, pulls out his gun and shoots Beckett in the chest. GASP! This is the iconic moment in which Han learned to shoot first! Han then cradles Beckett in his arms for some reason, as he watches his mentor/enemy die.

Back on Vos' ship, Qi'ra contacts her real boss, who turns out to be Darth Maul (!). GASP! A rare appearance of a character from the Prequel Trilogy. Qi'ra lies and says Beckett killed Vos before she killed him, and the coaxium was destroyed. Maul apparently buys this story, and promotes Qi'ra to Vos' position. She then flies off in the late Vos' ship, and looks mournfully out the window at Han as she zooms overhead.

Han gives the entire shipment of coaxium to Enfys Nest. She says she plans to use it to fight back against the Empire. In fact you might say she's going to start a... rebellion. GASP! This is the iconic moment in which the Rebellion against the Empire was formed! Before she leaves, she gives Han a vial of coaxium, saying it should be enough for him to buy his own ship.

Cut to an unknown planet, where Lando is once again playing sabaac. Han and Chewie appear, causing Lando to do a spit-take. Lando hugs Han and says he hopes there's no hard feelings. Unknown to him, Han swipes Lando's hidden card from under his sleeve.

Han challenges Lando to another sabaac rematch, with the Falcon as the stakes. Han lays down his hand, and Lando once again reaches for his hidden card. He's startled when it's not there, and Han announces he won "fair and square." GASP! He said the thing! This is the exact moment he talked about in The Empire Strikes Back!

With the Falcon now theirs, Han and Chewie decide to head for Tattooine, where a gangster's putting together a crew for a new mission. GASP! They're talking about Jabba the Hutt! The Falcon blasts off into space.

Thoughts:
• 
In an effort to not be completely negative, I want to point out that I liked most of the film. It's a fun little adventure, and I liked that the stakes were relatively small and there was no threat to the entire galaxy. The characters were fun and engaging (with one big exception), and the majority of the acting was decent.

I did feel the film felt a bit rushed though. I always kind of assumed the various events of Han's life happened over a period of years. It never occurred to me that he met Chewbacca, did the Kessel Run and won the Falcon from Lando all in the same day.

Would it have killed them to have spread things out over two or three movies?

The main problem with a film like this is that Han never had any backstory whatsoever in the Original Trilogy, which makes it difficult to write an origin movie. Because of this, the screenwriters had to pore over every one of his lines in the original film, microscopically examining them for ideas. As a result, his every utterance in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return Of The Jedi becomes a plot point in this film.

If you're OK with that, you'll likely love the movie. If you have a problem with it, you're in for a rocky two hours and fifteen minutes.

• Like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Solo doesn't begin with an opening crawl. It does open with several static paragraphs of onscreen exposition though.

• Might as well get this out of the way now. Solo is without a doubt the DARKEST movie I've ever seen. And I ain't talking about its tone— I mean dark as "absence of light."

Seriously, at my screening I literally could not see the faces of any of the characters. For most of the run time I had to guess who was talking. Even the daylight scenes were dark and murky. 

I actually turned around and looked up at the projection booth several times, as I was sure something must have dropped down over the window. It was obvious that this wasn't just a dimly-lit movie, and something was seriously wrong. That's too bad, as the film certainly sounded exciting. Too bad I couldn't see what the hell was happening.

It wasn't just my imagination either. The next day I emailed the theater and told them something was wrong with their projection system. Amazingly the manager responded and said he'd check it out. A hour or so later he emailed me and said he inspected the projector in that theater, and the bulb had been accidentally turned down to 68%, instead of the standard 91%. He thanked me for letting him know something was wrong, and sent me two free passes to make up for the problem.

See? I KNEW I wasn't crazy, and that something was seriously wrong! Now the question is why the hell is 91% the standard projector brightness? Why the hell aren't they cranking it up to 100%?

I actually went back a few days later to see the movie in its proper brightness. Believe it or not, it looked slightly brighter, but was STILL way too dark to see much of what was happening. 

Oddly enough, this wasn't an isolated incident. Apparently audiences nationwide had the same problem, and were complaining they couldn't see the characters' faces during the movie. 

In an interview with IndieWire, theater projection consultant (which I guess is a thing) Chaplin Cutler said there are a variety of factors that can cause a movie to look too dark. Films are projected through a window in the theater wall, and if the glass becomes dirty, it can darken the picture. The projector bulbs also dim over time, and because they're pricey, theater owners often wait too long to change them.

3D can also be a factor. When a theater shows a 3D movie, they place a special lens over the projector that splits the image in two. Supposedly it's a pain to remove this lens, so theaters often leave it on when they show a 2D movie. Unfortunately the 3D lens significantly darkens a 2D image.

There's also the fact that all theatrical movies these days are digital. That makes it necessary to compress the files, which often causes loss of detail in darker scenes.

Those are all great excuses, but this isn't some indie movie by a no-name studio. It's a Disney film, for corn's sake. They've been around for almost a hundred years, so you'd think they'd know about all this stuff by now and be able to compensate for it.

In addition to being literally too dark to see at times, Solo also has some of the ugliest cinematography I've seen in quite a while. Everything's dull and dingy, with an unpleasant brown tinge. Most infuriating of all, much of the film is backlit by bright windows or light sources placed behind the actors. Jesus Christ, even I know better than to do that. Lighting a movie from behind blows out the screen and makes it virtually impossible to see the actors.

Supposedly Bradford Young is the guilty party responsible for the horrible, horrible cinematography on Solo. This's surprising, since he also worked on Arrival. I had no problems seeing what the hell was going on in that film, so I dunno what the hell happened here.

• 
I really think these "A Star Wars Story" films need some sort of onscreen caption or something to explain just when they're taking place. Sure, the die-hard fans all know the timeline, but I guarantee the general public doesn't have a clue, and is wondering how Han Solo is alive and young after being killed as an old man in The Force Awakens.

For the record, Solo begins thirteen years before the events of A New Hope. There's then a three year time jump in the first act, so the rest of the movie takes place ten years before Han meets Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

• Solo clocks in at two hours and fifteen minutes. That's a bit too long for a fun, breezy heist movie. Trimming it by fifteen or twenty minutes would have helped it greatly.

• Alden Ehrenreich does a passable job as Han Solo, but I still think there were better choices out there. It's not that his performance was bad per se, it's just that there was never a point in the movie where I actually thought I was looking at a young Han.

Dave Franco (!), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Miles Teller (and his punchable face), Nick Robinson, Leo Howard, Tony Oller, Chandler Riggs (!!!), Hunter Parrish, Rami Malek (?), Landon Liboiron, Ed Westwick, Tom Felton (WHAT?), Joshua Sasse, Logan Lerman, Ansel Elgort (I could see him in the part), Jack Reynor, Colton Haynes, Max Thieriot, Scott Eastwood (???), Chris Pratt (that's gotta be a joke, as he's currently OLDER than Harrison Ford was during filming of A New Hope!), Emory Cohen, Taron Egerton, Jack O'Connell and Blake Jenner all auditioned for the role.

Personally I think actor Anthony Ingruber would have been the perfect choice. He sounds and acts exactly like Harrison Ford, and best of all looks eerily like him as well. Look him up on Youtube, and see what I mean. It's amazing how well he channels Ford.

• The filmmakers might have botched the casting of Han, but they made up for it with Lando. 
Donald Glover was absolutely perfect in the role. He moved and acted exactly like a young Billy Dee Williams, and even had the voice and inflections down pat. 

Some fans are complaining (imagine that) about Glover's performance, saying it was nothing more than an impression of Lando. Well... so what? Isn't that kind of the idea when you cast someone to play a previously established character?

• Tessa Thompson, Naomi Scott, Zoë Kravitz, Kiersey Clemons and Jessica Henwick were considered for the role of Qi'Ra, before it ultimately went to Emilia Clarke. Eh... she does an adequate job I guess. Honestly I just don't think she's much of an actress. I hope she's socking away her Game Of Thrones money, because I don't see much of a future for her once that show's done.

• Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca, as he's done now in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Suotamo replaced original Chewie actor Peter Mayhew, who sadly had to retire due to ill health.

Suotamo does as good a job as anyone's likely to do, but it's painfully obvious that Mayhew's no longer inside the fur suit. Sadly it's just not the same.


• Dryden Vos was originally played by actor Michael K. Williams, and the character was supposedly some sort of CGI lion-man alien.

Unfortunately Williams wasn't available for the extensive reshoots, so he was replaced by Paul Bettany, who played him as a live action humanoid.

• Thandie Newton, who plays Val, is a stunningly beautiful woman. You'd never know it from watching Solo though, as she's saddled with a horrible Toni Home Perm that adds a good ten years to her age and makes her look like a frumpy 1950s housewife. 

It almost looks like she's sporting a replica of Moss' do from The IT Crowd!

• Jon Favreau voices Rio Durant, a four armed CGI alien member of Beckett's crew. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but Favreau/Rio sounds EXACTLY like Rocket Racoon from the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies. Ah, who am I kidding. Of course they were trying to make him sound like Rocket.


Empty Enfys Nest is played by Erin Kellyman, whoever that is. All I know is she's a dead ringer for a young Maya Rudolph, of SNL fame. Distractingly so. In fact when she first took off her helmet and revealed her face, my first thought was, "Wow, why'd they waste time and money digitally de-aging Maya Rudolph?" Eventually I figured out it wasn't her, but man, do they look alike.

Somebody in Hollywood needs to cast these two as mother and daughter, or the same character at different ages. C'mon, agents! Get on this, stat!

• Warwick Davis makes a brief appearance as Weazel, a character who was allegedly in The Phantom Menace. Davis played Wicket the Ewok in The Return Of The Jedi, and has been involved in eight other Star Wars related projects over the years.

Davis also starred as the title character in Willow, which coincidentally was also directed by Ron Howard.

• Phoebe Waller-Bridge provides the voice and motion capture for the detestable droid L3-37.

On the Graham Norton Show, Waller-Bridge claims that when she auditioned for the role, she played the character as a human, because not only had she never seen a Star Wars movie in her life, but she "didn't know what a droid was."

Sigh.................

OK, I'm calling shenanigans on that last part. I can accept the fact that someone's never seen the films, but how the hell can a grown-ass human adult have never heard the word "droid" before? It's only two letters away from "android," which isn't exactly an arcane term, and it's the name of one of the most popular smart phones in the world! Jesus Christ!

Either Waller-Bridge is a complete and utter moron who needs help finding her way home, or she just wanted a "cute" story to tell on a chat show.

 Naturally since this is ostensibly a Ron Howard film, he stuck his brother Clint into it (as he always does). 

• Because this is a Disney Star Wars film, it's filled with references from the various movies. It's a pretty lengthy list, but somehow the shoutouts didn't seem as blatant and obtrusive as they did in Rogue One

Here are a few of the references I noticed. I'm sure there were probably others I missed.

— During the train heist, Val mentions Bossk. He's the lizard-like bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back (which actually takes place after this movie!).

— When Lando meets Beckett, he says, "You're the man who killed Aurra Sing!" Beckett replies that he only gave her a push, and the fall killed her. Sing was a bounty hunter who popped up VERY briefly (we're talking one second or so) in The Phantom Menace.

— When Han and the others enter Vos' penthouse, he asks if they'd like some Colo Claw Fish. The Claw Fish was one of the giant aquatic beasts that tried to snack on Qui-Gon and Co. in The Phantom Menace.

— To keep Vos from killing them, Han and Beckett try to think of alternate sources of coaxium. Qi'Ra suggests Scariff. That was the planet that sort of got blown up by the newly minted Death Star in Rogue One.

— Lando consistently mispronounces Han's name, just as he did in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return Of The Jedi.

— Onboard the Falcon, Qi'Ra discovers Lando has a closet just for his capes (!). Han interrupts her as she's trying on a blue cape— which appears to be the same one Lando wore in The Empire Strikes Back.

— En route to Kessel, Beckett teaches Chewie how to play Dejarik, the 3D chess game first seen in A New Hope. This is at least the third time the game's appeared in the franchise now.

— In the elevator on Kessel, Han's horrified to see Chewie's torn off the arms of a guard. In A New Hope, Han warns 3PO that Wookiees are known for that.

— When the gang's on Kessel, Beckett sports the same guard helmet and armor that Lando wore when he infiltrated Jabba's palace in The Return Of The Jedi. I always assumed Lando just picked up the armor in the palace, but apparently he owned it for some reason, and stored it on his ship!


— On Kessel, Qi-ra dispatches a guard with a martial arts move. When Han looks at her in amazement, she says she knows "Teras Kasi." That's a nod to the 1997 Playstation videogame Star Wars: Masters Of Teras Kasi. Most fans consider it one of the worst fighting games ever made.

— During the famous Kessel Run, Han says, "I have a really good feeling about this." That's of course a play on "I have a bad feeling about this," a phrase which has famously been uttered in every previous Star Wars film.

— At one point Lando mentions Sharu, the Oseon system and the Starcave Nebula. These are all references to a series of novels from the 1980s, detailing Lando's adventures prior to losing the Falcon to Han. For the record, the novels are Lando Calrissian And The Mindharp Of SharuLando Calrissian And The Flamewind Of Oseon and Lando Calrissian And The Starcave Of ThonBoka. I have a feeling the titles are the best things about these books.


Oddly enough, in these novels Lando also travels with a droid copilot! I've not read any of these titles, but hopefully the droid in the books was nowhere near as annoying as the one in the movie.

— After Han practically destroys the Falcon during the Kessel Run, Lando tells him, "I hate you." Han replies, "I know." This is a reverse of the iconic Leia/Han scene in The Empire Strikes Back.


— At the end of the movie, Beckett pulls a gun on Han and begins monologuing. Before he can finish his speech, Han pulls out his blaster and shoots him dead. This of course is supposed to be the origin of Han's "shoot first" philosophy, as seen in the original theatrical release of A New Hope.

• For over forty years now, no one's ever given a mynock's ass as to what powers the ships in the Star Wars universe. They just go. That's all we've ever needed to know.

All that's changed in the past year. Suddenly the fuel source of Star Wars ships is an issue of vital importance. In fact it's a major plot point in Solo, and in The Last Jedi as well. 

I don't get it. What changed? Why's it suddenly such a relevant topic? Because we're worried about energy in the real world?

• Inside the Corellian spaceport, we see a flatscreen TV playing an Imperial propaganda commercial. This ad consists of shots of Star Destroyers and TIE Fighters, and amazingly is accompanied by a slightly reworked version of The Imperial March, which first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back


OK, so it was supposed to be a fun little Easter egg or whatever, but all I could think of when I heard it was how John Williams must exist in the Star Wars universe.

Hey, I had to think of something during this movie, since I couldn't see the goddamned thing!

• When Han signs up with the Empire, he doesn't give the recruiter his last name because he's on his own and "he has no people." 
Later on he tells Beckett about his dad, who used to build space ships on Corellia.

So which is it, Han? Do you have "people" or don't you?

It's possible to reconcile his two statements with a little bit of effort, but we shouldn't have to do the writers' work for them.


• By the way, during this "recruitment scene," we discover the burning question of how Han got his last name. What's that? You never wondered about that? Yeah, neither did I. Apparently it was a big bee in the bonnet of the screenwriters though, as they felt the burning need to explain it.

See, when the recruiter asks Han his last name, he mumbles that he doesn't have one. The recruiter, needing something to put on the form, says, "Hmmm... Han... ummm... Han Solo." Just like an immigrant who's complicated name was changed to "Smith" at Ellis Island in 1900.

Jesus wept. I audibly groaned in the theater at that line. This is NOT something that needed to be explained. His name's Han Solo. That's a common surname in the Star Wars galaxy. End of story.

• When Han's thrown into the pit, the Imperial guards gleefully chortle that he'll be eaten by the monster inside. Once in the pit, Han notices the bones of the monster's previous victims.

Eventually the "monster" turns out to be Chewie. So what a minute... did Chewie actually eat the previous prisoners who were tossed into the pit with him? Are Wookiees really carnivores who eat intelligent species? Based on this scene, it sure looks that way! Holy Crap!

• I was underwhelmed by Han's first meeting with Chewie. Part of that might have been because the sequence is a shot for shot remake of the "Pit Witch" scene from Army Of Darkness.

• In the pit, Chewie tries to kill Han, until he croaks out a few words in 
"Shyriiwook" (the Wookiee language). So... not only can Han understand the language, but he can speak it as well. Of all the things I thought I'd see in this movie, Alden Ehrenreich moaning and gargling onscreen was last on the list.

• For several years now, smart alecks on the internet have snarkily asked how the hell Chewbacca can pronounce his name, when his language consists of nothing but growls and trills. Good question!


Against all logic and reason, those noises apparently somehow represent his name. When Han finally asks the Wookiee what he's called, he utters a series of bleats that Han translates into "Chewbacca." I'm confused.

• Apparently Chewie is destined to undergo a major growth spurt sometime in the next ten years. Here in Solo, he's barely a foot taller than Han. Compare this to A New Hope, in which he absolutely towers over his partner!

• Right before the train heist, Beckett tells Han he'll need a weapon. He then disassembles a rifle, turns it into a handgun and tosses it to Han.


So I guess Chewie can just go fark himself then, as Beckett never gives him a weapon.

Since they insisted on explaining everything else in this film, shouldn't they have shown how Chewie got his laser-shooting crossbow thing?

• 
The heist goes horribly wrong when Han panics and cuts the stolen train car from Beckett's fleeing ship. As the car crashes to the ground, the highly volatile coaxium inside causes a massive implosion, completely destroying an entire mountain.

But just a minute or so earlier, the entire train— consisting of twenty or so cars— jumped the track and crashed as well. If just one car load of coaxium could wipe out a mountain, shouldn't a couple dozen have cracked the planet in two? Whoops!

• After the train heist goes South, Beckett says Vos will be arriving any second. He tells Han and Chewie they should leave before he arrives, as Vos likely kill them if they stay.

Um... how the hell would they "leave" exactly? They don't have a ship. Does Beckett expect them to trudge to the train depot and steal a ship from there?

• Vos' penthouse office is a goldmine of Easter eggs and references. At least I think it was. Once again, the scene was so dark I could barely make out what was happening.


His collection includes the golden fertility idol from the beginning of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. You can see it right in the center of the screen as Vos and the others chat.

Vos also has what appears to be a suit of Mandalorian battle armor on display. It's the same style of armor worn by Boba Fett in the various Star Wars films (although this example looks to be a dark red, rather than green).

There's also a large crystal skull on a shelf in Vos' office. Most fans believe this is a nod to Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. I suppose it could be, but I'm wondering if it's not a more obscure reference. There was a 1980 novel by Brian Daley titled Han Solo And The Lost Legacy, which featured— you guessed it a large crystal skull on the cover. Is it possible the skull's a shoutout to that little-remembered cover?

• Some fans have claimed that Vos' elaborate facial scars became brighter when he got angry. I honestly couldn't say whether that's true or not, as I seriously could not see what the hell was going on in the movie. 

If true, that's a clever little touch. It's also a direct swipe from Alfred Bester's 1957 sci-fi novel The Stars My Destination. In it, main character Gulley Foyle is forced to get an elaborate tiger tattoo on his face. He eventually gets the tattoo removed, but finds it becomes visible again when he loses his temper. He then has to learn to control his emotion, lest the tattoo become visible and he reveal his true identity. Didn't think I'd catch that one, did you, Kasdan boys?

• Shortly before the film premiered, screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan announced in an interview that the character of Lando Calrissian is "pansexual," and doesn't limit himself to women or even members of his own species. Predictably, the press and internet went wild over this nugget of info, passionately arguing the pros and cons of a fictional character's sexuality.

Oddly enough, there's absolutely NOTHING in the movie to suggest Lando's orientation. And I do mean nothing.

So what the hell, Jonny? Why bring up something that has no bearing on the film? Was he pandering to the SJW crowd in a desperate attempt to pique their interest?

• Best Line Of The Movie: At one point Lando finds the Falcon's been "booted." Beckett says he can free it for a hefty fee. Lando says, "I don't like it. I don't agree with it. But I'll accept it." 

Words to live by!

• Welp, I put it off as long as I could, but it's time to talk about L3-37. Jesus Jetskiing Christ, has there ever been a more annoying character in the history of film? I used to think Jar Jar Binks was the worst character in the trilogy, but this fraking robot makes him seem appealing.

I hated everything about her. She was arrogant, recklessly headstrong and infuriatingly smug. I even hated her voice!

She wasn't just annoying, but dangerous as well. Her actions actually incited a full-blown riot that killed people, as well as the droids she was trying to "save." She even got herself killed and Lando wounded.

I honestly came close to standing up and cheering when L3 droid was shot and killed. Never in my life have I been so satisfied by the death of a fictional character.

Oddly she's played so broadly it's almost like she's like a parody of a typical SJW. How the hell did that happen? I know for a fact that a "woke" presence like Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy would never allow such a character onscreen. Is Kennedy really so dense that she couldn't see that L3 was making fun of the audience segment she loves so dearly?

I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think L3's name is supposed to be a joke. I think L3-37 is supposed to look like 1337, as in "leet speak." You know, when people online substitute letters with symbols, and write things like "b&" instead of "banned."

By the way, if you can stand to look at her, you can see that L3's upper arms appear to be made from spare astromech legs, much like R2-D2's. 

That's sort of a nice little touch I guess, but something's way off here. R2's legs appear to be about twenty four inches long, without the "foot." If L3's upper arms really are spare R2 legs, that would make her about ten feet tall. Obviously that's not the case.

Is there some sort of tiny astromech unit we've not yet seen, whose arms were cannibalized to build L3?

• Man, the planet Kessel is quite the mineralogical wonder. Not only does it contain the spice mines, but there're apparently vast deposits of coaxium underneath them! 

• Way back in A New Hope, Han bragged that the Millennium Falcon was "the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs." The idea of course was that the Falcon traveled the distance in record time, but Han's statement made no sense. A parsec is a unit of distance, not time. It's like saying you ran a hundred yard dash in ten feet.

Obviously this was a flub on George Lucas' part, as he must have heard the term "parsec" at one point but had no idea what it meant. That simple explanation wasn't good enough for the fans though, as for decades they've been trying to reconcile Han's statement.


The most popular fan explanation is that the Kessel Run was a dangerous region of space, but there was a relatively safe— but lengthy route through it, which was maybe twenty or so parsecs long. For whatever reason, Han decided to take a dangerous shortcut through the area, which ended up being just twelve parsecs.

Amazingly, that's exactly what happens in Solo, as the screenwriters incorporated this fan theory pretty much verbatim!

• During the Kessel Run, you can hear snippets of The Asteroid Field score from The Empire Strikes Back. Another nice touch.

• Late in the third act, Vos reveals that Beckett is secretly working for him. This leaves Han and Qi'ra completely gobsmacked, as their jaws practically hit the floor. Why is everyone so surprised when the inside man turns out to be Beckett? Lando's already checked out of the movie at this point, so Beckett's literally the only other cast member it could possibly be.

• Beckett takes Chewie hostage and leaves with the heavy case full of coaxium. Han and Qi'ra then say goodbye to each other for a good five minutes. Han then goes after Beckett.

Cut to Becket & Chewie lugging the coaxium up a sand dune. Suddenly they're confronted by Han, who's waiting for them at the top! How in the name of George Lucas' neck wattle did Han not only catch up to the pair, but manage to get ahead of them? Can he secretly teleport himself?


Solo's a film that didn't need to be made, but turned out far better than it had any right to. It's not a perfect film by any means, but it's a fun little adventure, and the first one Disney's done so far that actually feels like a Star Wars movie. Unfortunately fans apparently don't agree with me, and the film's sinking at the box office. I give it a B.

Missed Opportunity

Although I loved Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War film for the most part, I have to confess I was shocked that they left out a vital and integral part of Thanos' backstory.

Infinity War doesn't feature a single scene of Thanos flying around in his Thanoscopter!

Just think how much better the film would have been if he'd taunted the heroes from above, while riding in his very own customized whirlybird.

You definitely dropped the ball here, Marvel. Hopefully you'll correct this egregious error in Avengers 4!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: Deadpool 2

Yeah, I know, this review's late. I have a good excuse this time though, as I've been out of town on a much-needed vacation.

Deadpool 2 was written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds. It was directed by David Leitch.

Reese and Wernick previously wrote Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Life, as well as the original Deadpool. Now THAT'S an uneven resume! This is Reynold's very first writing credit.

Leitch is primarily a stuntman and stunt coordinator, who's moved into directing. He previously directed John Wick and Atomic Blonde.

Full disclosure: I've never been a big Deadpool fan. He debuted shortly around the time I stopped buying comics, so I never formed any emotional attachment to the character.

That said, I enjoyed the first Deadpool movie quite a bit. It had an irreverent and subversive tone that poked fun at both comic books and superhero movies. It's outrageous, hard-R humor was also funny as hell.

Unfortunately all that got flushed down the crapper here in Deadpool 2. Virtually everything that worked in the first film misfires here in the sequel. 
Gone is the snarky tone that worked so well in Deadpool, replaced instead with an odd and bizarre sentimentality. This sappy, emotionally earnest tone felt cheap and manipulative, and was completely out of character for Deadpool.

Instead of being a sarcastic, anarchic asshole who cares only about himself, Deadpool suddenly risks everything to become a surrogate father to a troubled mutant teen named Russell. 

Well, sort of. The movie can't quite decide whether Deadpool's a hero or a jerk. One minute he defends Russell to the death, and the next he literally wants nothing to do with him. What the hell? Did anyone proofread this script before they filmed it?

At the beginning of the movie Deadpool even brags that this is a "family film." Amazingly, he's not wrong. When I saw the film, at least half the audience consisted of parents and their ten year old kids! And why not? There's very little objectionable content in Deadpool 2. There's plenty of violence of course, but it's all pretty cartoonish, and there's , none of the perverted sex that permeated the first film. Might as well bring the kids!

I appreciate the fact that they didn't just rehash the original and attempted to do something different in the sequel. Unfortunately this new direction was a mistake in my opinion.

Sadly, Deadpool's neutering means this installment's nowhere near as funny as the first. I laughed quite a bit during the first film, but few of Deadpool 2's jokes managed to stick their landing, thudding to the ground like bricks.

But hey, we finally got a live-action version of Cable, along with a lady who looks and acts absolutely nothing like Domino, so that's something, right?

I'm blaming this radical shift in tone on the fact that original Deadpool director Tim Story didn't return for the sequel. Supposedly Story left over a rift with star Ryan Reynolds. Story wanted actor Kyle Chandler (of Friday Night Lights fame) to play Cable in the sequel, a choice that Reynolds strongly disagreed with.

Story also wanted to make the sequel "a stylized action film," which would have cost at least three times what the original did. Reynolds and writers Reese and Wernick wanted to keep the size and scope similar to the first movie. Since Fox was bankrolling the picture, they sided with Team Reynolds, and Tim Story was either booted off the project or quit in disgust. 

Too bad. The movie definitely needed more of his touch.

The audience at my screening definitely enjoyed it though. They roared with uncontrollable laughter at virtually every syllable uttered by Deadpool, which made it tough to hear the dialogue. I honestly spent most of the film wondering just what they hell they were laughing at, as I thought it was nowhere near as funny as the first movie.

They even stood up and cheered while pumping their fists in the air during the mid-credit scenes! What the hell? What am I missing here?

So far Deadpool 2's grossed an impressive $693 million worldwide ($300 million of that in the States). Impressive, but still far below the original film's $783 million worldwide gross. At this point it seems unlikely it'll match or surpass the original.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
The movie opens as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (played again by Ryan Reynolds) lies down on several drums of high-test fuel in his apartment. He lights a cigarette, takes a puff and flicks the butt into one of the drums. The resulting explosion blows him into several large, singed pieces. The End. That was quick!

No, wait. We have a mandatory flashback, in which we see Deadpool's been traveling the globe for the past two years, easily wiping out hundreds of criminals and underworld kingpins. 

Unfortunately his winning streak ends when he attacks the HQ of Sergei Valishnikov, a New York druglord. Valishnikov's goons chase after Deadpool, and he barely escapes with the help of his cab driving friend Dopinder. 

Deadpool returns to his apartment, just in time to celebrate his anniversary with his girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (played by Monica Baccarin). He gives her a skeeball token from their first date (PLOT POINT ALERT!), and she tells him she's ready to start a family. Deadpool's elated at the prospect of starting a family, which is completely out of character, but whatever. 

Right on cue, Valishnikov and his men burst into the apartment. Caught without his trademark weapons, Deadpool improvises an assortment of kitchen implements to kill the goons. He then goes after Valishnikov, throwing a cream cheese spreader at him.

Unfortunately the spreader misses its target, and Valishnikov fires his gun. The bullet flies through the apartment in slow motion, hitting Vanessa in the shoulder. Despite this seemingly non-life-threatening injury, she falls to the ground like a sack of wet cement and promptly dies in Deadpool's arms.

Valishnikov gulps as he realizes he's in trouble, and beats it out of the apartment. He jumps in his car, takes off and promptly crashes into a van. An enraged Deadpool follows him into the street and yanks him out of the car. He holds onto Valishnikov as he steps in the path of a speeding truck, which obliterates them both.

Thanks to his regenerative powers, Deadpool recovers. He then spirals into depression, fingering the skeeball token as he blames himself for Vanessa's death. He visits his former roommate Blind Al (played by Leslie Uggams), who tells him life's hard and he needs to man up. He then inhales several pounds of cocaine (our hero, ladies and gents!), goes back to his apartment, lays on the fuel drums and blows himself up, bringing us back to the present.

Deadpool wakes up in the afterlife (I guess?), where he sees Vanessa relaxing in their apartment. He tries to go to her, but is stopped by an invisible barrier. She tells him "his heart's not in the right place yet," whatever the hell that means. He's then violently yanked back into the real world, as we see Colossus gather the pieces of Deadpool's body and drag them back to the X-Men's Mansion.

Deadpool regenerates and recovers in the mansion. He sees former student Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by Brianna Hidebrand), who's now a full-fledged X-Man. She's accompanied by her girlfriend Yukio (played by Shioli Kutsuna), whose sunny disposition is a stark contrast to the sullen and moody Negasonic.

Colossus encourages Deadpool to join the X-Men, to give him something to do. He isn't interested at first, but when the team's called out on a mission, he decides to tag along for some reason.

Cut to sometime in the future, where a cyborg soldier named Cable (played by Josh Brolin) stares out at the post apocalyptic wasteland. He surveys the wreckage of his house, staring meaningfully at the incinerated bodies of a woman and a young girl. He picks up a bloody teddy bear and attaches it to his belt. He then slaps a blinking disk on his shoulder and travels back in time.

In the present, Colossus, Negasonic and Deadpool land the X-Jet at an orphanage run by the Essex Corporation, which houses young mutant runaways. As they arrive, they see a fourteen year old boy named Russell Collins (played by Julian Dennison) surrounded by hundreds of police and orphanage staff, including the Headmaster (played by Eddie Marsan). Russell, who calls himself Firefist (no, really), has the power to shoot flames from his hands, and warns everyone to stay away from him.

Colossus and Negasonic try to capture Russell, but he threatens to blast them. Deadpool manages to approach Russell, and notices he's been physically abused. When he asks if the Headmaster hurts him, Russell says he'd rather be sent to the "Icebox" rather than stay at the orphanage. This infuriates Deadpool, which again seems out of character.

Just then a creepy orderly grabs Russell and tries to drag him back inside. Deadpool shoots the orderly in the head, much to the horror of the X-Men and everyone else. Russell begins blasting the crowd with flames, but both he and Deadpool are overpowered by guards and fitted with power-dampening collars.

Deadpool and Russell are taken to the Icebox, an isolated, high tech prison which houses the country's worst mutant criminals. Apparently there's no juvie wing, as the adolescent Russell's tossed into a cell with the adult Deadpool. That just ain't right!

Russell wants to stick with Deadpool, saying they're a team. Unfortunately for him, Deadpool suddenly wants nothing to do with him, which is the exactly the opposite of how he acted just a couple of scenes ago (?). They're approached by a mutant named Black Tom Cassidy, who, despite his name, is a white man. Russell tries to fight Cassidy, but both he and Deadpool get their asses severely beaten. 

Cut to two rednecks (played by Alan Tudyk and an unrecognizable Matt Damon) sitting in the bed of a pickup truck. Cable materializes behind them and asks what year it is. They're naturally confused by his question, so he stuns them and steals their truck.

Back in the Icebox, the battered and bruised Deadpool is slowly dying. With the dampening collar suppressing his regenerative powers, his mutant cancer begins spreading and killing him. Just then the prison rumbles and shakes, and Russell asks what's happening. Deadpool says it's the "monster" housed in the basement of the Icebox (FORESHADOWING ALERT!), though just how he knows that is anyone's guess.

Just then Cable infiltrates the prison, killing dozens of guards and inmates alike as they attack him. Deadpool and Russell manage to escape their cell right before Cable obliterates it with his futuristic gun. He then chases them through the prison.

Deadpool assumes Cable's a hitman who's after him, and tells Russell to get as far away from his as possible (Hero Deadpool Mode here). Suddenly they're cornered, and Deadpool's gobsmacked when Cable growls, "Hello, Russell." Gasp! He's not looking for Deadpool at all!

Deadpool and Cable engage in an epic battle, as Russell looks on. Deadpool's collar is damaged in the brawl, and he instantly yanks it off. With the collar gone his powers return, and he takes on Cable with renewed strength. 

Unfortunately even with his powers, Deadpool's no match for the much stronger Cable. He gives Deadpool a massive beat down, punching him so hard the skeeball token flies out of his jumpsuit. For no good reason, Cable picks it up as "something to remember him by" and pockets it (ANOTHER FORESHADOWING ALERT!)

Cable asks why Deadpool why he's protecting Russell. He says he's not, as he couldn't possibly care less about him (Asshole Deadpool Mode). Russell overhears this and runs away. Just then Deadpool grabs one of Cable's explosive devices and detonates it. They're both blown through a wall and fall down the side of an icy mountain. 

Deapool lands in a frozen lake, breaks through the ice and sinks. He finds himself in the afterlife again, but still can't reach Vanessa. She tells him "kids give us a chance to be better than we used to be." He's pulled back into the real world again and crawls out of the water and onto the ice.

Cut to Deadpool drinking heavily at Sister Margaret's School For Wayward Girls, the mercenary dive bar he frequents. He realizes Vanessa was trying to tell him to save Russell. Unfortunately it won't be easy. His pal Weasel (played once again by the incredibly unfunny TJ Miller), somehow know the mutants are being transferred from the Icebox to an even MORE secure prison, eighty miles away. Deadpool realizes he'll need help to rescue Russell, and says they need to form a super team.

Meanwhile in the Icebox, Black Tom starts a prison riot. In the confusion, Russell sneaks into the basement cell, where he befriends the "monster" that's kept there.

Deadpool and Weasel hold auditions for their new team. They end up hiring Bedlam, a mutant who can manipulate electrical fields, Zeitgeist, who can vomit deadly acid, Shatterstar, an alien from the planet Mojoworld, Vanisher, a silent invisible man who may not actually exist and Peter, an ordinary guy with no powers whatsoever, who tried out because it "looked like fun." Peter's hiring pisses off the similarly un-powered Dopinder, who wants to become a superhero.

Lastly they interview Domino (played by Zazie Beetz), a mutant with the power of luck, who looks and acts nothing whatsoever like her comic book counterpart. Deadpool argues that luck isn't a power, but hires her anyway because it's in the script.

Deadpool dubs his new team "X-Force." Their plan is to parachute from a plane, land on the armored prison convoy, break into one of the trucks and rescue Russell. 

The team jumps out of the plane and opens their chutes. Unfortunately high winds in the area blow them off course. Deadpool gets stuck on a billboard and watches in horror as Bedlam crashes into a speeding truck, Shatterstar lands on top of a helicopter's spinning blades and Vanisher (played for a split second by Brad Pitt) gets tangled in high tension wires and electrocuted. 

Peter gets the hang of his chute and successfully lands. Unfortunately Zeitgeist falls into a wood chipper and vomits acid all over Peter, killing him instantly.

The only other X-Force member who survives is Domino, whose luck power causes her to land safely in the middle of a busy intersection. She then easily infiltrates the lead truck in the armored convoy and radios Deadpool that she's in. Deadpool steals a scooter and follows closely behind.

Suddenly Cable appears and leaps onto the convoy, searching the portable cells for Russell. Domino lets her luck steer while she has a shootout with Cable in the back of the truck. Deadpool leaps into the truck as well, and there's yet another big setpiece battle that goes on for way too long. 

In the confusion, Russell picks the lock to his cell and escapes. He enters the truck containing the "monster" from the prison and opens his cell. A massive figure steps out and punches though the floor of the truck, generating a shockwave that collapses an overpass and sends the vehicle flying.

Deadpool crawls from the wreckage and looks for Russell. He finds him standing next to the massive figure, who turns out to be Juggernaut. Deadpool gushes to him, but Juggernaut's not impressed. He grabs Deadpool, rips his body in half and tosses the pieces away. Russell says he no longer needs Deadpool, and he and Juggernaut head for the orphanage.

Domino arrives and carries Deadpool's top half back to his apartment. Once there, he hangs out with Blind Al, waiting for the lower half of his body to grow back. For some reasonWeasel, Dopinder and Domino show up at the apartment, and are all suitably horrified by Deadpool's tiny baby legs.

Just then Cable pops in as well, blaming Deadpool for unleashing Juggernaut. He says he can't take down the massive mutant alone, and as much as it pains him to admit it, he needs help.

Deadpool asks why Cable's trying to kill a fourteen year old boy. Cable finally decides to explain the film's plot: very soon, Russell will kill for the first time. He'll then decides he likes it and become a ruthless killing machine. At some point in the future, Russell will murder Cable's family. That's why he's come back in time— to eliminate Russell before any of that happens. So he's basically the Terminator.

Cable says his "time slider" has just two charges— one to get him to the past, and one to take him back to his own time once Russell's dead (ANOTHER FORESHADOWING ALERT!).

Deadpool says deep down he knows Russell's not evil, and asks for the chance to save him. For some reason, Cable throws away his motivation and says, sure, why not. 
Deadpool returns to the X-Mansion and begs Colossus for help. He refuses, neatly setting up a third act change of heart and triumphant entrance scene.

Russell and Juggernaut arrive at the orphanage, intending on killing the Headmaster. Just then Deadpool, Cable, Domino and Dopinder arrive and swagger toward the camera. For no reason other than lazy writing, Domino announces she used to live in the orphanage as well (?). Dopinder gets a good look at the enormous Juggernaut and decides to wait in his cab.

Juggernaut approaches, and Deadpool and the others attack. Unfortunately they're no match for the behemoth, and he easily mops the floor with them. Meanwhile, Russell— now in Firefist mode— goes after the Headmaster, burning the building as he goes.

As predicted, Colossus, Negasonic and Yukio arrive in the X-Jet at the perfect moment. Colossus attacks Juggernaut, but is severely beaten. Yukio binds Juggernaut's legs with an electrified chain (I guess?), immobilizing him. Colossus recovers long enough to jam a live electrical wire up Juggernaut's ass. Negasonic then blasts him into a pool, electrocuting him. 

Russell corners the Headmaster and is ready to deal the killing blow. Deadpool catches up to Russell and says killing his tormentor won't make him feel better. He apologizes and says he never should have left him in the Icebox. Russell says he overheard Deadpool saying he didn't care about him, and doesn't believe anything he says. He says he can never trust anyone again, and unleashes the full power of his blast on Deadpool. His costume is singed ash gray, causing all the comic book geeks in the audience to nudge one another and point at the screen.

Deadpool takes a power-dampening collar out of his belt (where the hell'd he get that?) and puts it on. He says if Russell's going to kill anyone today, then it'll have to be him. Russell begins powering up, as his hands glow bright red. Cable realizes Russell's a lost cause, pulls out his gun and shoots him.

At the last second, Deadpool leaps in front of Russell and takes the bullet for him. He collapses on the ground and begins dying. Russell's horrified by what his actions have caused, and has an immediate change of heart. He cradles Deadpool in his arms and tells him he's sorry. 

Cable looks down at the teddy bear attached to his belt, and marvels (heh) as the blood on it disappears. He realizes this means Russell's no longer a killer, and his wife and child are still alive in the future.

Deadpool's happy that he's finally going to die, and says goodbye to the entire cast in another scene that goes on way too long. He finally dies, and slips into the other realm again. This time he's able to reach Vanessa and they make out for a while. Suddenly she stops and says he can't stay, as it's not yet his time.

In the real world, Cable looks at his time slider disc. He twists the dial and slaps it, sliding back to the point where they first arrived at the orphanage. He pats Deadpool on the chest, seemingly for no good reason. 

Cut to the moment when Deadpool leaps in front of the bullet meant for Russell. He lands on the ground, but this time he doesn't die. He reaches under a strap and pulls out the skeeball token. He realized Cable went back in time and planted it there, knowing that's where Deadpool would take the bullet. Fortunately even though Deadpool doesn't die this time, Russell still has his change of heart.

Deadpool asks why Cable used his last time charge to save him. He says now that his family's safe in the future, he's gonna stick around a while to make sure humanity doesn't turn the Earth into a post apocalyptic wasteland. Groan! Now THAT'S bad writing!

Suddenly the Headmaster runs out of the orphanage, yelling about mutants and hell and whatnot. Dopinder then plows into him with his cab, killing him instantly. I guess that's the end of that subplot! Deadpool announces he's finally found a family. Groan!

In a mid-credit scene, Negasonic and Yukio recharge Cable's time travel disk and give it to Deadpool for some reason. He uses it to return to the moment of Vanessa's death. This time he's able to kill Valishnikov and save Vanessa's life! He then saves Peter from being killed as well.

He then travels back to 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he kills the terrible, abortive version of Deadpool in that movie (who was also played by Ryan Reynolds). Cut to Ryan Reynold's apartment in 2011, as he reads the script for Green Lantern. Deadpool appears and shoots him in the head.

Thoughts: 
Deadpool 2 is a prime example of what I like to call a "Barnacle Movie." What the hell's that, you ask? Welp, it's when a film franchise begins accumulating characters the way barnacles build up on the hull of a ship.

Deadpool introduced the titular character of course, along with Weasel, Vanessa, Blind Al, Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Dopinder the cab driver. That's seven characters (not counting the villains), which is a lot for any movie to handle. 

Deadpool 2 brings back EVERY single one of these characters, plus it adds SIX more: Cable, Russell, Domino, Peter, Yukio and Juggernaut (I'm not counting the other members of X-Force, since they were only onscreen a few seconds). Hell, they even brought back Buck, the biker barfly at Sister Margaret's School For Wayward Girls! They'd have probably included Ajax and Angel Dust too if they hadn't been killed in the first movie.

That makes a whopping THIRTEEN characters the script needs to deal with! And when Deadpool 3 rolls around, I guarantee every one of these thirteen will be back, plus at least four or five more.

That's way, WAY too many speaking parts. Yeah, I get that the audience expects to see their favorite characters come back for each movie and all that. But at some point you've got to start scraping the barnacles off the ship, before it sinks under its own weight.

• One of the things I liked about the original film was its fidelity to the source material. Movie Deadpool spoke, acted, and best of all looked exactly like his comic book counterpart. His origin story and powers were even the same as in the comic (more or less).

Supposedly star Ryan Reynolds fought tooth and nail for this faithfulness to the comic, especially after the terrible and shameful version of Deadpool that appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Hats off to Reynolds for caring so much and demanding the character be done right.

Unfortunately, all that devotion to accuracy was flushed right down the sh*tter in Deadpool 2. Cable comes closest to matching the source material, but he's still quite different from the comic version. Domino and Firefist are the worst of the lot, and have absolutely nothing in common with their comic book inspirations save their names (more on each of these characters below).

So what the hell happened? Why'd the franchise suddenly stop giving a flying fark for authenticity? Did Ryan Reynolds work so hard bringing an accurate Deapool to the screen that he was too worn out to care any more? Did the director think the new characters were so obscure that it wouldn't matter if they resembled the source or not? Was it a case of studio interference? Who knows. Whatever the reason, it's a shame the quest for fidelity took a sudden back seat in this film.

• Brad Pitt, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Sylverster Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Perlman, Pierce Brosnan (!), Stephen Lang and David Harbour (of Stranger Things fame) were all in the running for the role of Cable.

I have a feeling most of those names were never seriously considered, as many of them seem way too old for the part and would likely demand too much money. In fact I disagree with pretty much everyone on that list except for Stephen Lang and David Harbour. Either one of them would have made a fine Cable.

Ultimately the filmmakers cast Josh Brolin in the part. He makes a pretty good cable, as he has the look, the attitude and the gravelly voice.

There's just one major problem— Brolin's wayyyyy too small for the role. In fact he's actually a little shorter than Deadpool, which becomes painfully obvious any time they share the screen.

Props to Brolin for trying though, as he hired a personal trainer and got absolutely shredded for the part. Unfortunately no amount of weight lifting's gonna add inches to anyone's height.

Obviously the producers were never going to find a perfect live action match for the character, as Comic Book Cable's usually depicted as being seven feet tall and nearly that wide. But c'mon, guys! You already had to CGI Cable's glowing eye and bionic arm in every one of his scenes. Would it have been that much more work to digitally enlarge him by ten or fifteen percent, so he was at least slightly taller than Deadpool? The least you could have done was have him stand on a box!

The writers chose to deal with this issue by having Deadpool make a couple of jokes about Cable's slight frame during the film. Feh!

• One last thing about Cable before I mercifully move on. The character has one of the most convoluted and complicated backstories in all of comic-dom. Cable's real name is Nathan Summers, and he's the son of Cyclops (of the X-Men) and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of X-Men member Jean Grey). Baby Nate was captured by the evil villain Apocalypse and infected with the "techno-virus," whatever that is. 

A woman from the future named Mother Askani then appeared and offered to cure Baby Nate. Cyclops reluctantly agreed, and she took Nate two thousand years into the future, where she taught him how to keep the techno-virus at bay. Mother Askani later revealed she was actually Nate's time-displaced half sister Rachael (yeah, I know).

Rachael then pulled the minds of Cyclops and Jean Grey (NOT Madelyne Pryor) into the future, where they trained Nate in how to use his mutant abilities. When he reached adulthood, he decided to come back to the present day for some reason, where he became the leader of X-Force.

Note that this is an extremely truncated version of Cable's origin story. I could easily write another ten thousand words on the subject.

As soon as it was announced Cable would be in Deadpool 2, I told my movie going pal there was no way in hell they'd be able to include his comic book origin in the movie, and the filmmakers would have to drastically alter his backstory. 

Sure enough, I was right. Movie Cable has a very simplified history. Basically he's a cybernetic soldier who lives in a post apocalyptic future, and travels back in time to prevent his wife and daughter from being killed. That's it! That's all we ever find out about him. We never learn who he is or how he got his cybernetic implants and bionic limbs. We get no explanation as to what happened to his world, and no idea where he got his advanced weaponry and time travel technology.

It's like the filmmakers knew they couldn't shoehorn ALL of Cable's elaborate origin into the movie, so they solved the problem by not including ANY of it. 

• Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lizzy Caplan, Kerry Washington, Sienna Miller, Ruby Rose, Mackenzie Davis, Kelly Rohrbach, Eve Hewson, Sofia Boutella, Stephanie Sigman, Sylvia Hoeks, and Janelle Monáe were all considered for the part of Domino. Ultimately the role went to Zazie Beetz, who ever the hell that is.

OK, that was mean. Actually, Zazie Beetz is the beloved star of such highly popular films as James White, Applesauce, Wolves, Finding Her, Sollers Point, Dead Pigs and 2017's megahit Geostorm (cue falling slide whistle sound effect).

If the filmmakers went out of their way to give us a comic-accurate Deadpool, then they completely dropped the ball when it came to Domino. As you can see for yourself in the above image, this version has absolutely NOTHING to do with her comic book counterpart, and is different in nearly every measurable sense. The only thing Movie Domino has in common with her inspiration is her name and power.

In the comics, Domino was part of a government project to breed the perfect living weapon. Her mother broke her out of the lab, and hid her in a church in Chicago. Domino later left the church and became a mercenary, as one does.

She eventually met Cable and formed an intimate relationship with him (!). When Cable became the leader of X-Force, she joined the team as well.

Comic Book Domino is a skilled marksman and athlete, and has extensive training in armed combat, martial arts and explosives. Most notably she has the ability to affect the laws of probability in her favor. In other words, she's incredibly lucky.

On the flip side, Movie Domino shares the name and the luck power with her comic version, and that's pretty much it. 

Most egregious of all, Comic Domino is an albino. In fact she's about as albino as a person can be, as her skin is bright paper white. She has a distinctive black patch of skin around her left eye, which inspired her nickname.

Movie Domino is NOT an albino, and is in fact black. Instead of switching things up and giving her a white patch around her eye, she has a faintly flesh colored one, that's barely lighter than her surrounding skin. This makes it easy to miss in 90% of her scenes. 

Look, I get it. It's 2018, we're all "woke" and representation is in high gear. So it's inevitable they were going to include at least one black woman in this film. That's great, and I don't have a problem with it in theory. But why in the name of Stan Lee's toupee did they pick a goddamned ALBINO character to race swap? Now do you maybe see the problem with Beetz's casting? Jesus wept!

In addition to completely hosing her look, they also eliminated her mercenary background and weaponry skills. And they completely ignored the fact that Comic Domino was a longtime ally and sometime girlfriend of Cable, who absolutely hated Deadpool.

If you're going to fundamentally change everything about a character— her look, her race, her costume, her motivation and overall personality— then why the hell even bother? Why didn't they just create a brand new character who conformed to their parameters? They could have easily came up with a character named "Lady Luck." The general public wouldn't known known the difference, and they'd have been able to get their representation into the movie without giving me a stroke.

Naturally the internet is wild about Zazie Beetz, and fans are demanding she get her own Domino movie. Really? I must be taking my crazy pills again, because I thought her performance was flat and underwhelming. She barely had any screen presence at all. There's no way in hell she'd be able to carry her own movie.

• Poor Rusty doesn't fare much better in Deadpool 2. In the comics, Russell Collins was a tall, lanky sailor in the Navy. He met up with a prostitute while on shore leave, and unfortunately his mutant fire powers activated for the first time when he kissed her. Fearing he'd killed her, he went AWOL but was eventually captured by military police.

The mutant team known as X-Factor then sprung Rusty from jail, and made him part of the team.

Obviously none of that happens in the film. Movie Rusty is a much younger doughy teen who's from New Zealand for some reason.

• So they half-assed Cable by torpedoing his entire backstory, and totally botched both Domino and Firefist. But oddly enough, the producers managed to give us a reasonable live-action facsimile of extreme 90s icon Shatterstar, of all characters. 

Naturally they devoted all their time and energy to getting his look just right, since he has all of ninety seconds of screen time.

• Stuntwoman Joi Harris was killed in a motorcycle accident during the filming of Deadpool 2, which stopped production for two days. Hope it was worth it, producers!

• I have many questions about the mechanics of Deadpool's regenerative powers. They seem to function based on the needs of the script, rather than operating by any sort of logic (no surprise there).

At the beginning of the film, Deadpool attempts suicide by literally blowing himself to pieces. Afterward, it appears that Colossus gathers the chunks of Deadpool's body, throws 'em in a trash bag and drags it to the X-Mansion.

So what happened then? Did Deadpool's arms and legs wiggle over to his torso and reassemble themselves? Or did his head sprout a brand new body, like a giant planarian? Based on events of the first film in which he regrew a hand, I'd say it was most likely the latter.

Another question: Late in the second act, Juggernaut grabs Deadpool and tears him in half. Deadpool then has Domino tote him back home, where he regrows a new lower body.

So what happened to his original lower half? Did it grow a new top? Are there now two Deadpools running around? Or can only the half with the head regenerate?

By the way, I'm betting that Deadpool getting torn in half is a reference to the 2013 Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk comic book miniseries. In that story, Hulk rips Wolverine's body in two, and tosses the lower half on top of a mountain or something. Wolverine then has to crawl to the top, grab his bottom and reattach it with his healing power. Just like real life!

• Best Moment (and joke) In The Film: Deadpool complains to Colossus that he never sees anyone other than him and Negasonic Teenage Warhead inside the vast X-Mansion. As he says this, we catch a brief glimpse of the entire X-Men team behind him, as Beast discreetly closes the door (as seen in the blurry bootleg screencap above). HAW!

That really was the current X-Men lineup in that little cameo, including Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Beast (Nicholas Holt), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Professor X (James McAvoy).

When I first saw this shot I was impressed that they'd gathered the entire cast together for a five second scene. Alas, that wasn't the case. Supposedly the cast the cameo during filming of the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie. Pretty cool!

• Speaking of cameos, my second favorite joke in the entire film was the scene in which the Vanisher parachutes into some high tension wires. As he's electrocuted, we (very) briefly see he's played by Brad Pitt!

• One last cameo, before I stop talking about 'em. Stan Lee makes his obligatory appearance in Deadpool 2, as he does in every Marvel Studios, Fox and Sony movie.

Well, sort of... As Not Domino parachutes through the city, she floats past a building emblazoned with a large mural of Stan's smiling mug. Hey, at least he's in there somewhere!

I have a feeling this is how they'll probably handle his cameos when the sad but inevitable day comes that Stan shuffles off this mortal coil.

• Believe it or not, the X-Force team and most of its members have their roots in the comics. The X-Force comic debuted in 1991, and concerned a team of mutants led by Cable.

Bedlam (played by Terry Crews) first appeared in X-Factor #1, and like his movie counterpart, had the power to generate electromagnetic fields.

Shatterstar (played by Lewis Tan) first appeared in The New Mutants #99. He's an extradimensional alien from the planet Mojoworld, and had superhuman strength, speed and agility. He could also open portals or something. And he was from the future, sent back in time to prevent the downfall of his planet or some such. Amazingly, Movie Shatterstar is pretty darned close to the comic version.

Zeitgeist (played by Bill Skarsgard) debuted in X-Force #116. He had the ability to spew highly acidic bile, that could burn through almost anything, just like the film version. He was killed on one of his first missions, also like his movie counterpart.

There was a Vanisher in Marvel Comics, but he wasn't a member of X-Force. Instead he was a supervillain, who first appeared way back in 1963's The X-Men #2. He wasn't an invisible man though, as he had the ability to teleport himself and anything he was carrying.

As you might expect, Peter has no comic book analogue, and was created just for the movie.

• At one point Cable's holed up in a fleabag hotel, assessing and reassembling his weaponry. This scene is very reminiscent of the T-800 doing the same thing in The Terminator. In fact almost everything about Movie Cable— his look, his motive and his ability to time travel— is very Terminatoresque.

• During an epic setpiece brawl in the Icebox, Deadpool says my favorite line in the entire film. He tells Cable, "You're so dark! Are you sure you're not from the DC Universe?" HAW!

• In yet another setpiece battle, Deadpool tells Cable, "Bring it on, One-Eyed Willy!" This is of course a shoutout to the pirate character in The Goonies, which starred Josh Brolin (among others).

• After he escapes, Deadpool feels guilty for leaving Russell inside the Icebox. Weasel tells him he has intel that the entire mutant population of the Icebox is being moved to an even more secure "super max" prison, eighty miles away.

Jesus Christ! How much more secure could a prison possibly be? From what we see in the film, the Icebox is located on a remote mountaintop, accessible only by special train. So there's another facility that's even harder to get into?

Moving ALL the prisoners at the same time would be a huge undertaking, and would just invite trouble and escape attempts. Why not leave 'em where they are? Did Cable's attack spook the warden, and convince him the Icebox just wasn't secure enough?

• Late in the third act, Russell knocks Deadpool across the screen with a flame blast. This singes Deadpool's costume and covers it in a layer of grey ash.

I'm assuming this was an homage to the fact that Deadpool wore a grey variant of his costume when he briefly joined X-Force in the comics.

• To get through to Russell, Deadpool pulls out a working power-dampening collar and puts it around his neck. Where the hell did he get that? The one he wore in the Icebox was damaged and stopped working. I guess maybe he must have picked one up off a corpse after the prisoner transfer went South? But why?

• Writing time travel stories is hard! Like most of them, this one falls apart with only the slightest bit of scrutiny. At some point in the future, Russell kills Cable's family. Cable then comes back to the present to prevent that from happening. Deadpool manages to steer Russell away from his murderous path, thereby saving Cable's family.

Makes sense, until you start to think about it. If Cable's family is never killed, then there's no reason for him to go back in time. But if he doesn't go back, then they'll be murdered. And so on, and so on, in an infinite circle.

Also, right after Deadpool dies, Cable decides to save him by going back in time to the moment they arrived at the orphanage. But Cable was already at the orphanage then. Shouldn't there be TWO Cables there now?

Same goes for Deadpool. In the mid-credits scene (which I admit probably isn't meant to be taken too seriously), he goes back in time to prevent Vanessa from being killed. Again, Deadpool was already present at that event, so there should be two of him there as well. Obviously that's not the case, creating yet another nonsensical paradox.

• In a mid-credit scene, Deadpool uses Cable's time slider to prevent Vanessa's death. Doesn't it seem odd to resurrect a major character AFTER the film's over, rather than during the actual storyline? Why the hell would they do that? Now ninety percent of the audience has no idea that Vanessa's still alive.

On the other hand, that's kind of on the audience members for bolting out of the theater like track stars the second the credits appear onscreen. What the hell's your hurry? Are you all late for your meetings with the president, to discuss your solutions to the immigration crisis? Sit the hell down and relax!

Deadpool 2 is the antithesis of its predecessor. Everything that worked in the original film falls flat here, as the irreverent tone is replaced with a cheap, maniupulative and wildly out of place sentimentality. It's nowhere near as funny as the first either. I can't work up enough strength to say I hated it, but I sure didn't like it. Stick with the original, and maybe check out the sequel when it comes to home video.

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