The first reviews for Deadpool 2 are coming in fast and furious, with the movie screening for press over the weekend (and this morning) and the embargo on reviews lifting Monday night (May 14). Whereas, say, Avengers: Infinity War dominated media in the weeks leading up to its arrival with the kind of blockbuster event-making marketing that Disney/Marvel excels at, Deadpool 2 has stayed more viral and a lot more insane -- in keeping, perhaps, with its scruffy origins and over-the-top hard-R content.
Make no mistake, however: This is a bigger Deadpool movie than the first time around, with more action (courtesy of John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch, replacing Tim Miller), more characters (Cable! Domino!), more zany pop culture references, and of course more wildly inappropriate jokes. Does it all add up to a better time at the movies than the first film? Or can more actually be less? Let's take a look at what the critics had to say...
The New York Daily News calls Deadpool 2 "the perfect Avengers antidote," adding, "Thor and Captain America and Black Panther are all terrific, sure, but sometimes their righteous role-model parade seems to stretch into infinity. This raunchy mercenary has never been one — and that's refreshing." Critic Stephen Whitty cautions that the film drags a bit during its serious moments, but that it's still "a fast, fun romp." He also insists that everyone stay through the credits, since the "last few minutes in this film are the funniest Marvel moments ever."
The Times of UK gives the film four stars out of five, saying, "He’s back and he’s as hilarious, homicidal and outrageous as ever, although maybe a little mushier." The newspaper notes that Deadpool's rude ways are undercut slightly by the movie's somewhat more sentimental tone, but adds, "Thankfully, Deadpool 2 goes big on all that made its predecessor such a hoot: the hugely likeable Reynolds, his equally amusing best friend Weasel (TJ Miller), baroque sequences of slow-mo maiming, free-flowing flashbacks, a wedding DJ’s approach to music (George Michael, AC/DC, Dolly Parton, erm, Enya) and copious instances in which the fourth wall is not so much broken as blown to smithereens."
Meanwhile, over at the Playlist, Rodrigo Perez -- who can be tough on superhero films and was not a fan of the original Deadpool -- proclaims that Deadpool 2 is "gleefully impish, entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny. Almost everything that felt forced, crass and hamfisted in the original film now feels organic and effortless; a constant breezy stream of gags, quips and expertly choreographed action. Deadpool 2 is filthier, funnier and ferociously manic."
Richard Roeper at the Chicago Sun-Times is strongly enthusiastic about the movie, calling it "wicked, dark fun from start to finish, with some twisted and very funny special effects, cool production elements, terrific ensemble work -- and for dessert, perhaps the best end-credits 'cookie' scene ever." He also indulges in some Deadpool-style hyperbole, adding, "This is the best sequel since Godfather II. OK, not quite, but that sounds like something Deadpool will say about Deadpool 2 in Deadpool 3."
Hold on a minute: Not everyone is quite on board with Wade's second big-screen adventure. The Wrap's Alonso Duralde is decidedly cool to the sequel, saying, "Anyone who wasn’t amused by the first go-round isn’t going to hop on board for this entertaining but by-the-numbers do-over." Duralde notes that the film doesn't go anywhere new, and while he is taken with Zazie Beetz's performance as Domino, he's not as impressed with Brolin's Cable (he didn't like the actor as Thanos either, which is kind of mind-boggling, but to each his own).
The Hollywood Reporter is squarely in the Merc's corner this time out, enjoying the hell out of the many pop and geek culture references (including an "on-the-money zinger" that ends up "deflating the entirety of the Zack Snyder-ized DC Universe") and observing that the movie is, "if less of a surprise than its predecessor, just as funny."
The increased variance in tone seem to be one of the things that some critics are stumbling over, with Variety's Andrew Barker chiming in, "At its best, the film resembles an ultraviolent Looney Toons spinoff, with Reynolds once again going full Bugs Bunny behind either a mask or a mountain of makeup... At its worst, there’s something mustily mid-’90s about its self-congratulatory rudeness, its sensibilities lying somewhere between a Farrelly brothers film and a Mountain Dew commercial."
And finally, Leah Greenblatt at EW finds the whole thing getting tiresome after a while, wearily writing, "There’s a numbing sameness to the casual bloodshed here that makes the viewer almost long for the relative calm of the first film’s lengthy pop culture digressions." She adds that the movie gleefully channels the "wild id of a 12-year-old boy" but cautions that it's "dizzy fun for a while, like eating Twinkies on a Gravitron. Eventually, though, it just wears you out."
As we write this, the negative reviews are definitely in the minority (the movie is running 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with 58 reviews in), while the positive ones all seem to point out the same attributes: Leitch's sharp direction, the hilarious script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds himself, and of course the latter's leave-it-all-on-the-field performance in the role of his career. Despite random rumors of a troubled production, Deadpool 2 looks like it's going to be -- to paraphrase Wade himself -- as big as Jesus.
Deadpool 2 opens wide (yes, we know it's a double entendre) this Friday, May 18.