The origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
I love it when a passion project comes together.
Here we have a movie star, screenwriters, producers, and director who so believed in this version of 'Deadpool' they fought to get it made for some eight years. And not only did they produce a gleefully violent, R-rated, meta comic book movie that has gone on to be BOTH the number one R-rated film of all time AND the top 'X-Men' franchise grosser...
It's really fucking good.
'Deadpool' non-linearly recounts the tale of one Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a vigilante for hire who's quick to say he's no hero... even though the jobs we see him take land in a morally grey, but generally positive realm. One day the ever-sarcastic Wade meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the call girl of his dreams. They fall fantastically in love. Sexcapades ensue. And it's all too perfect to last.
Wade finds himself on the short end of a death sentence in the form of the Big C.
The movie intercuts the events that follow Wade's diagnosis -- Deadpool: Origins! -- with Wade's present day quest to find the man who origined him into becoming Deadpool in the first place, all while struggling with his fear of going to see the love of his life again (his origining made him fugs).
Action comedies are one of my favorite genres, but they're nearly impossible to pull off because there is no guaranteed formula for balancing character, dramatic stakes, and jokes. Mix in the recent glut of superhero origin stories and adult themes (PG-13 movies generally make more money than R-rated films) and this is a challenging production to pull off.
Seriously, I know there are some who aren't on board with this, but I'm amazed at how great 'Deadpool' turned out.
That nearly impossible balance of action, humor, and emotions mixed with another origin story... This flick pulls it off because, after millions of critical choices made by every person on the filmmaking team, they've arrived at what is best described as the perfect tone for this particular story. For me at least, the jokes hit hard enough to cause open laughter. The action is well choreographed and clear. Wade is a unique character, in that he's a bad dude who we root for. And I really, really admire how the film stays focused on personal stakes rather than blowing up to a Save The CGI Extras third act. Yes, there's a big action set-piece where heroes and villains in rubber suits SPOILER ALERT -- fight -- END SPOILERS, but the whole thing has a sense of importance.
I love all the little details. The eye-popping visuals, and ear-tastic sound mix punctuated by sarcasm and fourth wall breaking. It's a film that takes well tread elements and polishes them up with a heaping pile of ball jokes and clever curse words. Honestly, my nine-year-old self is just as giddy about the whole thing as adult me.
If I had one question about the film's intentions, I wonder if the filmmakers could have found a way to avoid the damsel-in-distress elements. I think the structure and payoffs surrounding this structural choice work (and fuel Wade's journey as Deadpool), but the film goes out of its way to subvert and reinvent so many expectations, and there are so few women in this story, I wonder if they could have gone a little further with a character that is so vividly written in the film's early scenes. Ah well, here's hoping for a little more room for such choices in the sequel (and hoping she doesn't end up Super-ized as well).
Either way, 'Deadpool' is a lot of R-rated fun (seriously, no kids, unless you want to be THOSE parents) that pulled off a tricky balance of potentially-disparate tonal elements to become the most fun I've had at a super hero movie since 'Guardians'.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Thanks to Dolby labs, we received a copy of the Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Combo pack, which contains one UHD Blu-ray, one Blu-ray, and a redemption code for a Digital HD copy via iTunes or UltraViolet. At this time, the only studio including an Ultra HD digital copy with their films is Warner Bros via the VUDU streaming service. 'Deadpool' on Digital HD is the 1080p version. Please note that UHD Blu-rays are all Region Free, and US packaging marks this Blu-ray as Region A locked. However one of our UK readers had no trouble playing the Blu-ray on his Region B player (thanks to John for the tip!).
A Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack is also available.
'Deadpool' celebrates International Women's Day on Ultra HD Blu-ray with an awesome 4K HDR / WCG video presentation framed in the film's original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. No kidding, Fox has outdone themselves here.
Though the original camera elements were filmed at 3K, theatrical and home video releases were finished in 4K. To the best of my recollection this process involved grading for theatrical SDR in the P3 color space, followed by regrading for IMAX projection systems, another step for Dolby Cinema/Vision HDR laser, the Rec 709 Blu-ray, and finally this 4K Ultra HD in HDR / WCG (a Rec 2020 container housing, effectively, the P3 color space). I mention this post-process because I just came from a filmmaker panel where the director and colorist described this UHD BD as the best way to experience the movie and one where, after so many previous iterations, they found more detail than ever before.
[Editor's note: be on the lookout for an article about that panel later this week.]
What you see when you make the step up from HD to Ultra HD is dramatic to say the least. It's less so when you have a great HDTV and there is some time between viewings, but doing side-by-side comparisons of the Blu-ray to the Ultra HD Blu-ray, which is just did, would floor anyone. Deeper blacks and shadow details. Deadpool's costume, both the red color and fabric textures, leap off the screen. White, semi-blown out skies reveal clouds, while spectral highlights show off more detail (look at the pavement as Deadpool fights on the bridge). And the explosions themselves have been regraded to a more appealing orange tone while revealing more texture to the computer graphics.
One note for anyone considering buying 'Deadpool' on Ultra HD Blu-ray before he or she owns an HDR10 compatible set...
YES, the Ultra HD Blu-ray player can down-convert the image to HD. And, YES, the player is supposed to map the HDR grade back into SDR / Rec.709. This, for the most part, works pretty well. But there are two potential trade offs. If your player maps poorly, it could washout the entire image. On the VIZIO P-Series, for example, which will soon receive HDR10 capability, the resulting image is more black-level crush in dark scenes with blown out bright scenes.
To be clear, this paragraph isn't to knock this Ultra HD Blu-ray whatsoever; it's just that to get the best out of this video presentation you need HDR10. That said, the Ultra HD Blu-ray does have more perceived resolution when doing A-to-B comparisons with the Blu-ray, but the Blu-ray has been more properly graded for Rec.709 / SDR so it's a more balanced presentation.
In summary. If you own an HDR10 capable display, 'Deadpool' on Ultra HD Blu-ray is not only the most consistent Fox UHD BD to date, but also hands down the most striking way to see Deadpool outside of the theatrical laser projection experience ala Dolby Vision or IMAX Laser. Great job, everyone. However, I would not recommend down-converting this Ultra HD Blu-ray to a 1080p display or playing it back on a UHD display lacking HDR10.
(Important: I do NOT grade 7.1 against Atmos/X mixes and vice versa. The numerical grading listed above is in relation to how this mix performs in relation to similar configurations and genre exercises. IE, a 4.5-star Dolby Atmos mix is almost always a step up from a 4.5-star 7.1 mix.)
'Deadpool' breaks the fourth wall on Ultra HD Blu-ray with an authoritative Dolby Atmos surround mix that bests its Blu-ray counterpart in every way. Though not a full 5-star stunner of a track, it's good enough to make this Ultra HD Blu-ray worth considering over the Blu-ray for the audio alone.
Spend ten minutes alone with the 'Deadpool' Dolby Atmos mix and a smile's gonna light up your face. It has all the sound effects from the 7.1 mix, but elevates the sense of immersion dramatically. After a hilarious opening title sequence, the first major set-piece includes somersaulting SUVs, a ballet of bullets, and a cutaway to helicopter rotors winding up to speed. All of these elements are nuanced, filling your listening space fully. There's also a terrific explosion about halfway through the film that wraps over your head. And the film's climax is an aggressive action sequence with hulking metal containers whipping through the air.
I admire several things about this track that aren't related to the object and overhead panning (though they are the key to differentiating it from the 7.1 experience). First, the sound effects are simply wonderful; there's a depth to what bending metal and roaring fire sounds like, making every thing crisp. Finally, this mix is really smart in the way it cuts from loud to quiet moments for dramatic or comedic effect.
Overall, 'Deadpool' in Dolby Atmos is the best way to experience this film mix, though it's not quite the revelation of something like a 'Mad Max Fury Road' or 'Gravity'.
When the movie's wunderbar, the video looks perty, and the audio envelops, the final pieces to any home entertainment puzzle are the special features.
'Deadpool' again does a great job. Not quite LOTR in-depth, this (wait for it) package is much more reminiscent of the days when DVD was a studio cash cow. Forty minutes of deleted / extended scenes and marketing materials, PLUS an hour-plus behind-the-scenes documentary, PLUS two audio commentaries. Yeah, get happy, fans. This shit's a treat. As always, I've divided out the features by exclusivity and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... oh, sorry, just fell asleep while typing that. Here are the non-exclusive bonus materials you can find on the Blu-ray:
Gag Reel (HD, 6:12). All the LOLZ.
Deadpool's Fun Sack. Divided between 23 minutes and 54 seconds of VIDEO (titles listed below) and nine or so STILLS, here is your 'Deadpool' marketing campaign in all its irreverent glory.
April Fool's Rating Announcement
Fantastic Four Deadpool Teaser
Theatrical Trailer 1
Red Band Trailer 1
Brazil Comic-Con Greeting
Experince Me in IMAX
Deadpool's Trailer's Eve
Theatrical Trailer 2
Red Band Trailer 2
Blatant Bachelor Baiting TV Spot
Australia Day Greeting
Touch Yourself Tonight
Gentlemen, Touch Yourself Tonight
Ladies, Touch Yourself Tonight
Chinese New Year Greeting
Superb Owl TV Spot
Digital HD Copy. Yup, if you buy a physical disc in standard definition (WHY!?!), HD, or Ultra HD, you also get a Digital HD copy.
'Deadpool' is a kickass comic book flick for anyone who enjoys meta humor, foul language, and brutal, gratuitous movie-violence. Congrats to everyone involved for launching a rad new franchise. I can't wait to see where you take this character.
As an Ultra HD Blu-ray, you're getting stunning, high resolution HDR / WCG video with a kickass Dolby Atmos sound mix PLUS the Blu-ray, which houses an excellent set special features and provides backwards compatibility if you haven't upgraded to UHD. This Ultra HD Blu-ray also sets a new benchmark for Fox Home Entertainment UHD titles due to its Maximum Effort improvement over the Blu-ray, and comes Highly Recommend for anyone with an HDR10 capable UHD TV, or anyone planning to upgrade this year.
If UHD is not your thing (wait, why are you reading this?), then the Blu-ray might be a better option. <SnarkFont>I hear there's a DVD you could pick up as well. </SnarkFont>