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YIN/YANG REVIEWS: Dead Pool 2 / Cobra Kai (Season 1)

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

by Derek May:

Yin: Deadpool 2

This is a movie franchise that shouldn’t be. No one outside of the fans wanted it - for years no studio exec would touch it. Who could blame them? I mean, superheroes don’t use their cunning linguistics for hard-R cursing (see what I did there); they don’t hack, slash, chop, and aerate enemies with orgasmic glee; and because of that, kids that go back to the theatre over and over to provide studios with the revenue needed to cover these films’ ungodly budgets are gonna be either sitting at home pouting they’re not allowed to go or sneaking in without paying. It was a no-brainer for TPTB - until the test footage leaked.

The Internet went ballistic. The movie was greenlit. The release was epic. The grosses were record-breaking. The movie was amaze-balls. And a franchise was born.

But then there was a new hurdle to overcome—sequelitis—a debilitating affliction even Iron Man, Thor, and the entire Avengers team couldn’t escape in their sophomore efforts. So how did DP do in deux?


While many lamented the loss of original film director Tim Miller, his absence goes mostly unmissed. JOHN WICK and ATOMIC BLONDE director, David Leitch, slipped into the chair as effortlessly as a greased-up Ryan Reynolds into red spandex. Leitch continues to cement his status as an elite filmmaker, bringing his keen visual eye and lifetime of stunt knowledge to deliver spectacular, visceral action sequences as well as delicate, emotional drama. It helps to have original writing partners Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick behind him, not to mention Reynolds himself, who adds a writing credit because he apparently doesn’t do enough for the franchise already.

But let’s talk turkey. Mr. Pool made good on his promise to bring reluctant-yet-frequent 'teammate,' Cable, into the sequel.

Josh Brolin pulls MCU double duty here (hardly a unique occurrence) after having killed it—figuratively and literally— as Thanos. He continues his spree here as the hard-nosed cybernetic mutant from the future. In the comics, Cable is surly, abrasive, tough-as-nails, yet somehow (especially when around ‘Pool) able to deliver timely bon mots and zingers with ease. All of which are highlighted in Brolin’s take.

Josh Brolin as 'Thanos'

It’d be simple to play it totally straight—just another tragic, wounded, less-fuchsia villain—but Brolin knows how to walk the line. He’s absolutely perfect for the role, providing the physical presence alongside old-school gravitas, and has the charm to diffuse his more violent and seemingly despicable acts, imbuing his 'villain' with genuine humanity and empathy.

I put 'villain' in quotes because while Cable is rightly touted as the antagonist, he’s got a very legitimate and arguably heroic reason for doing what he’s doing, which in this case means hunting down a young mutant boy. That’s right, they threw a kid into the movie; and that’s where my red flags initially popped.

Kids can be the death of action movies (despite how Shane Black seems to get away with it). And having our Merc with a Mouth on babysitting detail for 2 hours didn’t exactly scream thrills.

But luckily, the filmmakers recognized the potential trap, and deftly skirted it.

Julian Dennison broke out in HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (directed by THOR: RAGNAROK director, Taika Waititi). Having enjoyed the hell out of him in that film, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As with Cable, Dennison’s Russell is dealing with a lot of layers. Dealing not only with his devastating mutant abilities, his horrific circumstances, and his lack of adult guidance, he’s also chubby, insecure, needy, and desperate. All serve as relatable entries for the audience to sympathize with the poor child - until we don’t. Once again, the character isn’t quite what you think. Without spoiling too much, there’s a very good reason Cable is after him, and what may be the biggest coup of the film is that as it goes along, we start to root for Cable, and feel less and less for poor Russell (to a point). It’s a deft sleight of hand that really ends up elevating the sequel over its predecessor in terms of characterization.

But really, the focus is, and should be, on the main man himself, and DP2 really starts to peel away at poor Wade Wilson, layer by sarcastic layer. While the first film showed how the Regenerating Degenerate came to be and saw him single-mindedly focused on revenge and saving his beloved, this time we branch out into previously unexplored territory.

The story continues to revolve around Wade’s relationship with Vanessa, seemingly the one and only thing that can calm his mind, his heart, and his mouth. But as is wont to happen, tragedy strikes, and strikes hard, sending Wade into an emotional spiral. Original favorites Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead return in full glory try to help him through his grief (as at least one of them tries), and it goes about the way you might expect.

Fast-forwarding, we ultimately see Wade grow from caring only about one other person (Vanessa) to learning to care about others, or at least those in his immediate orbit. For a guy like Pool, that’s a huge step, and once again gives the sequel a hearty and honest emotional weight.

Each character, in turn, is taken to new heights and in unexpected directions. Each in their own way plays against expectation, and ends up dealing with the thematic repercussions of loss, anger, and fellowship to a surprisingly mature degree. But stepping out of the mush for moment, the film is right on point with the same irreverent, intelligently juvenile humor from the first film. Several jokes are even skillfully recycled (including a clever play on the opening credits). The movie hits you with witticisms, gags, zingers, and subverted musical choices as fast as bullets from Cable’s gun (which Deadpool will tell you are really fast). As with the characters, every time you think the film is taking you one direction, it takes a hard left, constantly keeping you on your toes - especially for the hilarious cameos injected throughout. If you loved the first film, DP2 definitely delivers bigger, better, and Poolier.

The inevitable sequel to the film that was never to be slices through the sequelitis curse with mercenary precision. A new, talented up-and-coming director delivered the action and the heart. The old hat writers set up a worthy journey, smart and well-rounded characters, and a Comedy Store’s worth of side-splitting humor.

Zazie Beetz as 'Domino'

The actors nailed their respective roles (including Zazie Beetz nailing it as the tough, sweet, and capable Domino we look forward to seeing next in X-FORCE). And a bigger, badder budget means we got the effects to expand DP’s world outside its original three locations and showcase unique characters from the X-men universe we’d otherwise never have seen.

If there’s one thing DEADPOOL knows how to do, it’s kill. And kill it they did.


Yang: Cobra Kai (Season 1)