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Movie Review: Deadpool

Deadpool, "the merc with a mouth", is an unconventional comic book character from Marvel who featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Ryan Reynolds has played a number of superhero characters, but seemed like the only choice for the immoral, over-the-top and juvenile, Deadpool. This is his origins film, an action adventure comedy and sci-fi thriller that could be described as a pool of Kick-Ass, Spider-Man, Watchmen and Darkman.

Wade Wilson, a former special operative turned mercenary, becomes the guy who deals with bad guys. After undergoing a highly experimental medical procedure, his body mutates... giving him special regenerative healing powers and painting a target on the back of the doctor who made him immortal. Oh, and he connects with a girl, a blind lady and a bartender.

It's an irreverent superhero and feature film debut for director Tim Miller, throwing a brash, unpredictable and funny albeit potty-mouthed antihero into the limelight. Deadpool loves breaking the fourth wall in his comic books, so there's plenty of self-aware comments and moments where he turns to address the audience. The profanity is frequent, the action is ultra-violent and Deadpool's juvenile no-holds-barred comedy dominates in this tongue-in-butt-cheek superhero flick.

The jokes are thick and fast and the character operates without boundaries, sifting from the present future back in time to give us a before and after contrast. He's living in a fairly hedonistic head space since his special healing powers mean he's virtually unstoppable, allowing him to exist in a consequence-free dimension. The experiment-gone-wrong has gifted him with mutant superpowers, but seems to have multiplied his already alternate attitude.

The antihero film is reminiscent of Kick-Ass in the way Deadpool takes his own brand of vigilantism to the streets with very little remorse and a penchant for Mortal Kombat style ultra-violence. His self-made spandex, mutant superpower and transition from normal guy to superhero mimic Spider-Man with a similar romantic distraction and disdain for the man who created him. The revenge story is soaked in Sam Raimi's Darkman with our antihero prowling around and possessing a similar affliction, while the gritty, irreverent and diabolical tone has an affinity with Watchmen.

Deadpool Movie Review

"Seriously... a Russian Ninja? I'm Deadpool, damnit."

Ryan Reynolds does a superb job of holding all of the pieces of the film together. His charming alter-ego helps sell his dark side antics, making him a complex social agitator, trained killer and sexual oddity. He's supported by Ed Skrein as "the British villain", Ajax, a CGI X-Men character named Colossus voiced by Stefan Kapicic and T.J. Miller as his inside man, Weasel. The film could've done with a more intimidating villain, but it's quick-paced enough to keep you off-balance and distracted.

The origins story has been done to the point of pig vomit, but by doing and saying what many superheroes wish they could do and say, the writers manage to keep it filthy but fresh. The interlaced superhero references will have many fanboys laughing their heads off until blood starts spewing out of their necks... did I mention it's gory?

I just found that while Deadpool was clever in breaking the fourth wall and dishing up a double serving of juvenile humour with no regard for human life, it was wicked like Kingsman: The Secret Service. The constant onslaught of off-colour comedy takes the edge off, but it's the sort of Natural Born Killers crazy movie you could imagine mass murderers referring to as an influence in a homicide case.

The twisted nature of our immoral antihero, his proclivity towards killing people as a form of amusement, his Joker temperament and his tendency towards getting others to solve their problems by killing... well, let's just say you wouldn't ask him to babysit your kids. It's worrying that this passes as entertainment and perhaps it's just a raw conglomerate and representation of how depraved media has become these days.

Deadpool isn't for everyone. In fact, it's the opposite of family-friendly... churning up depravity, profanity and violence under the mask of entertainment. Hopefully it exorcises the demons rather than encouraging them to fester in the curtained parts of the mind. If you managed the mania of Kick-Ass and can stomach a strong dose of Hell... you'll come out of Deadpool alive, but maybe there's enough Hell in your life already to excuse yourself from seeing this one.

The bottom line: Subversive

Talking Movies with Spling - Spotlight, The Choice and Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

Spling reviews Spotlight, The Choice and Kidnapping Freddy Heineken as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Talking Movies with Spling - Spotlight, The Choice and Kidnapping Freddy Heineken by Spling on Mixcloud

Movie Review: Spotlight

Spotlight is a biographical and historical drama turned thriller about the Boston Globe's "Spotlight", a team of investigative reporters who tackled alleged child abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, exposing a religious, legal and governmental scandal that send shock waves across the world in early 2002. The Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage opened the issue of sexual abuse within the Church, drawing attention from the Church hierarchy, law enforcement, government and media agencies.

Spotlight follows almost ten years after acclaimed documentary, Deliver Us from Evil, from film-maker Amy Berg, who examined the case of convicted pedophile, Oliver O'Grady. While set in Boston and dramatised much like newspaper conspiracy All the President's Men, both films address the same issue. Deliver Us from Evil has a special focus on one man's sexual crimes, while Spotlight takes a broader citywide perspective.

The Spotlight team consists of: Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes, Michael Keaton as Walter 'Robby' Robinson, Rachel McAdams as Scaha Pfeiffer and Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll. Ruffalo played a similar role in The Normal Heart, throwing himself into yet another passionate causes performance that sees him embrace every aspect of his character. Keaton is the boss, conveying quiet authority in the wake of Birdman, while McAdams and d'Arcy round off a solid team. The ensemble is bolstered further by the presence of an understated Liev Schreiber, no-nonsense John Slattery and dedicated Stanley Tucci.

Spotlight Movie Review

"Did I mention we're on speakerphone?"

The performances ground Spotlight and do justice to a well-balanced script, which let's the true story speak for itself. We encounter real people with heart-breaking stories that reveal a slice of the tragedy at play, while for the most part, the priests are kept at a distance, reduced to names and dates. It's the establishments that are targeted in Spotlight, and those that would wish to cover-up the scandal in order to profit or cast a blind eye.

While the outcome is public knowledge, the underlying tension of the search-and-discovery is leveraged to great effect, drawing us into the depths of the story. In our fast-paced, media-soaked world, the newspaper's sense of integrity becomes such an inspiration as the investigative journalists pursue the truth with such voracity. Spotlight exposes the darkness without being consumed by the despair, simultaneously restoring hope in humanity by showing the commitment, patience and virtues of a news team with a difference.

Writer-director Tom McCarthy, best known for The Visitor and Win Win, gives us a deft, human and harrowing look into this time. The subject matter is monumental, recalling the newsroom tone and gravity of All the President's Men. McCarthy's crafted Spotlight in such an honest and matter-of-fact way without caving into cliches of the news agency detective genre.

It's a heartbreaking and eye-opening journey that treats its audience and subjects with great respect, making the integrity of its story an unflinching priority. The subtle film-making keeps it immediate, within touching distance, and the range of honest performances lock us into a troubled Boston in some of the most devastating months in U.S. history.

The bottom line: Engrossing

Top Ten Movies with... Tom Marais

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Tom Marais is a diligent, humble and talented award-winning South African cinematographer and entrepreneur. Tom brings his unique creative vision and immense talent to every project and is able to adapt to the format as a visual storyteller.

An AFDA graduate and member of the South African Society of Cinematographers, Marais has trail-blazed his way across the local film industry with a series of beautifully crafted feature films, such as: Ballade vir 'n Enkeling, Hard To Get, iNumber Number and Roepman. The prolific cinematographer has a wealth of experience and already has three feature films scheduled for release this year, including: Free State, Hatchet Hour and My Father's War.

Tom has also filmed top television dramas, including: Soul City, Home Affairs, Intersexions and Jacob’s Cross. His commercial work includes clients such as: MTN, DSTV, VUZU, FNB, Nashua Mobile and Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, among many others. He was also one of the early collaborators to shoot music videos for South African musicians such as Lebo M, Skwatta Kamp and Klopjag.

Marais is a regular contender at the SAFTAs, having won two Golden Horns and numerous accolades at Kyknet's Silverskerm Festival, SASC Visual Spectrum and AFDA's alumni. A world class talent, it seems like only a matter of time before Marais breaks into the international film scene. We managed to catch up with him to find out, which films inspire him and discover his Top Ten Movies.

"It's like watching an Indiana Jones
film, set in space." [on Star Trek]

I can't watch movies without...

- Good sound and good images! Quality is extremely important to me, and I'm not referring to the latest and greatest gimmicky digital enhancements, but the way I believe the filmmaker intended for me to enjoy it.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- I am very proud to share my birthday with the one-and-only Mr. Jack Black! And one of my favourite and much appreciated film directors David Fincher was also born on the 28th of August. Also I am very lucky to share my birthday with a talented local beauty, actress Donnalee Roberts. [28 Aug]

What is the first film you remember watching?

- I can remember a trip to the Sterland in Pretoria to watch the movie E.T. by Steven Spielberg and I loved it so much that my Aunt Salie decided to spoil me with an actual E.T. doll!! Which I still have by the way!

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- No doubt: The Holy Mountain. Sad to say I got it from a close filmmaker friend and still not sure if it was a prank or not, but it is a holy load of s**t!

Which movies have made you tearful?

- Any blêrrie Pixar movie, the last one was Inside Out, I cried about 3 times! They are brilliant story-telling experiences!

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- Locally? Let’s just go with one of the most starstruck moments in my career. I guess that would be when I met Ian Roberts on the Bakgat! film set. I was a huge fan of the SABC '80s TV show, Arende, in which Ian played the infamous character Sloet Steenkamp as I was growing up, so that was a big one.

What's your favourite movie line?

- I have never been very good at remembering movie lines, or lyrics or people's names unfortunately.

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Chris Pratt! Because... I guess I like his sense of humor, and I wish I had hair like his!

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- The list of ideas is way too long. It would definitely be a popcorn movie, involving some kind of crazy adventure romance set somewhere in our beautiful South Africa.

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

Ten is obviously only scratching the surface, so I will revert to my "I Would Watch These Movies Anytime" list for inspiration. These are my top 10 movies I can watch no matter what mood I am in and no matter how many times I have seen it.

And now in no particular order...

- Back to the Future ...is such an interesting phenomenon. It's a film we all grew up with, enjoyed as children and now as an adult I watch it and I just marvel at the perfect execution of such an original story. In my opinion, the perfect movie! Robert Zemeckis is a genius and I watch all of his work. He's one of the few masters that really understand the art of telling a story through pase and camera movement, when to cut and when not to. When he builds tension, no matter who you are, you are sitting on the edge of your seat.

- Fight Club ...I think I watched this film about 7 times on the big screen, I was at film school and it melted my brain! I loved the cinematography and I guess just about everything else in that movie... crazy perfection!

- The Big Lebowski ...need I say more than "I'll take it away from you, stick it up your ass and pull the f**king trigger 'til it goes 'click'"? (laughs) I am a big Coen brothers fan, and love Roger Deakins who shot most of their films. This is my favorite comedy. 

- Drive ...talk about how the score and cinematography can be in perfect harmony... tell a story without the aid of unnecessary dialogue. A masterpiece!

- The Incredibles ...can’t wait to watch this movie with my children over and over and over again. Too much fun.

- Princess Mononoke ...I guess this is my idea of the perfect fairy tale. Such a beautiful story, layered with real-life situations, under the veil of fantasy.

- There Will Be Blood ...probably the closest I'll get to ever watching an opera. I've never been so conflicted about loving and hating a main character like this, all at once. Loved the art direction and cinematography.

- True Grit ...my favourite Western, by my favourite cinematographer. It's also not a typical Coen brothers story line, but I loved how plain and simple the story is and just how beautifully it was executed.

- Star Trek ...I’m a really big sci-fi fan and this is one of my favourites. I wish there were more movies like these. It's like watching an Indiana Jones film, set in space. Also love the dynamic energy and I'll watch anything with Eric Bana in it.

- In the Mood for Love ...I think this is the first movie that made me consciously aware of how beautiful images can influence your mood and tell a love story, very creatively. This movie is the epitome of visual poetry to me.

Honourable mentions: Fifth Element, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, The Matrix, Amelie, Avatar, Contact, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Se7en and Stoker.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

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