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The reviews for Deadpool 2 are in and it seems the Merc With the Mouth has sweet-talked critics into blessing him with good advance word.
Even with expectations high after the franchise’s first outing, which gained an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating and $783 million in global box office, critics from Indiewire, Uproxx and Gizmodo are among those arguing that the sequel has surpassed the first in terms of subverting superhero tropes and mixing sharp comedy with dynamic action. Some critics are more muted in their praise, pointing out what they believe to be ethnic stereotypes among supporting characters and some obvious franchise-building with its new X-Force team. Still, the overall advance buzz is good as Deadpool 2 looks to upset other titles at the Memorial Day box office.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore argues that the sequel is just as funny as the first, if not more refreshing, given that its smart-mouthed hero is now in his sophomore outing. And though there’s action aplenty, the film balances action with character development, DeFore writes: “With Reynolds’ charismatic irreverence at its core, the pic moves from bloody mayhem to lewd comedy and back fluidly, occasionally even making room to go warm and mushy.”
For those concerned about how the famously skeptical Deadpool would take to teaming up with some new players in this version, DeFore reassures readers that 20th Century Fox successfully manages the hero’s transition from loner to team player. He also suggests viewers stay after the credits roll: “It’s worth sitting through to the end — especially for any viewer who was too distracted by the decapitations, fireballs and impalings of the final battle sequence to make out the lyrics of the Carmina Burana-ish chorus playing in the background,” he writes.
Over at IndieWire, critic Kate Erbland writes that Deadpool 2 delivers on the promise of the first film “and more.” At first, she argues, the film has its issues. The first act has a “frenetic, uneven pace, hopscotching through at least four different setups that could spawn its own full-length feature.”
But when the villain Cable (Josh Brolin) and other mutant heroes show up, notably Domino (played by Zazie Beetz), the film finds its footing, she says. Cameos of famous people abound, and as for the violence that dominates the first film, now, Erbland argues, it seems to have more of a purpose. “The film is as violent as its predecessor — at some point, someone needs to count how many bones are broken during the film’s running time; my guess is triple digits — but now there’s a refinement to the bloodshed.”
Uproxx critic Vince Mancini is another who says the sequel surpasses the original, writing that the film manages to escape the franchise plans of Fox and still revel “in the small victories, in simply feeling like it was written by dorks and not an algorithm.” Mancini adds that although he is generally skeptical about superhero films that are self-aware about their own cleverness, Deadpool 2 won him over with “a sense of play” and a refreshing lack of huge stakes.
“Deadpool 2 feels like it’s riffing. It feels like the filmmakers are having fun. When was the last time you saw a superhero movie that didn’t feel like every plot point was a lynchpin in some multiyear release strategy?” Mancini writes.
Gizmodo‘s Germain Lussier breathes a sigh of relief at what he feels is the second film’s sense of restraint, writing that “the sequel smartly dials each back just enough [of its comedy] to give the weightier stuff that’s in there more impact” and still manages to be “funnier” than the first.
Giving the film three and a half out of four stars, Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers offers a resounding thumbs-up and writes the film “throws everything it has at you until you throw your arms up in happy surrender.” Travers particularly compliments Reynolds’ knack for playing Deadpool, “a role he wears like a second skin,” and the genuine emotion that the film finds even while maintaining a wisecracking tone.
The Guardian‘s Steve Rose is more measured in his praise, writing that Deadpool 2 still delivers the laughs but has a tendency to play on ethnic stereotypes. While giving Atlanta star Beetz a few good lines to play with and not doing much with Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the franchise continues to foreground “the white guys at the expense of the consciously inclusive cast around them,” Rose writes.
Still: “What made the first Deadpool, and saves this one, is the way they mix emotional sincerity in with the meta-movie wisecracking,” he notes.
The lone voice of nostalgia for the first film, Polygon‘s Susana Polo feels that Deadpool 2 has lost a little of its edge as the notion of another Marvel-related Fox franchise looms. “[Deadpool 2] suffers most when trying to stretch its underdog swagger over the bones of a nascent X-Force franchise,” Polo writes.
Even so, “I will say that if you loved Deadpool, you’ll probably find Deadpool 2 to be a worthy follow-up,” she says.
Deadpool 2 bows May 18.
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