Once Upon a Deadpool, 2018.
Directed by David Leitch.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Fred Savage, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Karan Soni, Leslie Uggams, Eddie Marsan, Stefan Kapicic, Bill Skarsgård, Terry Crews, Shioli Kutsuna, Lewis Tan, Jack Kesy, Hayley Sales and Rob Delaney.
Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow rogues to protect a young boy from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.
Hoping to capitalise on mid-December Christmas cheer and milk the kiddie market for some easy superhero box office bucks, Fox has re-released Deadpool 2 in a re-edited PG-13 format for a special limited theatrical engagement, festively titled Once Upon a Deadpool.
Somewhat amusingly, despite the violence, profanity and general lewdness being significantly toned down from the original May theatrical release, the new edit still received a “15” rating in the UK, matching the rating granted by the BBFC for the original cut and therefore still keeping tweens at arm’s length.
Even ignoring the fallacy of young kids likely having seen Deadpool 2 at home months ago, Once Upon a Deadpool is a pretty bizarre theatrical proposition. Above all else, the end result feels so much like a gimmicky alternate viewing mode you’d expect to see on a home video release.
Despite coming loaded with 15-20 minutes of newly-filmed footage – comprising an amusing Princess Bride-esque frame story where The Merc with a Mouth (Ryan Reynolds) has kidnapped Fred Savage – the overall presentation likely won’t entice many beyond the most die-hard Deadpool 2 fans.
The spine of the original Deadpool 2 is kept almost entirely in tact – though that delicious James Bond-lampooning opening credits sequence has sadly been chopped – with the changes consisting mostly of ultra-meta banter between Deadpool and Savage, alongside cuts to soften “objectionable” content, alternate takes and dialogue re-dubbed by Reynolds for his masked hero.
There are sure to be those who take straight umbrage with Reynolds’ irreverent, R-rated icon having his famously grotty motormouth washed out with cinematic soap, and understandably so. However, Reynolds has clearly put considerable effort into maintaining the character’s wise-cracking integrity as much as possible.
Most of his new one-liners are at least fleetingly amusing, and his patter opposite Savage proves especially funny, particularly when the two get into the nitty-gritty of not only Deadpool 2‘s scripting deficiencies, but also Fox’s impending merger with Disney and the sad state of Fox’s branch of Marvel movies.
Once Upon a Deadpool feels decidedly less assured, however, in the editing department. Dialogue for characters without the benefit of a mask is blatantly re-dubbed on the fly with little attempt to conceal the wavering mouth movements, and in order to shy away from blood spurts and injury detail, action sequences sometimes end up feeling frustratingly choppy.
Director David Leitch and co. certainly do push the PG-13 rating right to the line, though – hence the UK’s 15 rating – with the movie still featuring a surprising abundance of severed limbs and generally wince-inducing combat. Apparently digitally mopping up blood is sometimes enough to sate the MPAA.
While it’s fair to say that the new content ranges from hilariously worthy of the original movie to shameless cutting room floor material, it’s at least appreciable that Leitch didn’t just slap a new wraparound story on the theatrical release and be done with it.
More could clearly have been done to make it feel like an actual movie event worth heading out to see – namely amping-up the almost non-existent seasonal mood – but if Deadpool 2 fans end up catching its inevitable VOD release sometime in the future, they should get an easy couple of kicks out of it.
And if you do watch it, make sure to stay right to the end of the credits for an unexpectedly heart-warming tag that’s sure to leave Marvel devotees buzzing.
Despite an undeniable whiff of cynicism and a peculiar lack of Christmas cheer, Once Upon a Deadpool is a mostly neat remix of the hit superhero sequel.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.