Ryan Reynolds again not only handles the mask and the rapid-fire quips, but also shares the writing credit (along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) for the second in what promises to be a series of fast-paced, action-packed, and often hilarious adventures. The wonder of Deadpool 2 (as well as its predecessor) is how well it manages to both knowingly lampoon the conventional superhero film (with plenty of digs at both the Marvel and DC franchises) while managing to celebrate the virtues at the heart of this kind of epic, such as valor, honor, and self-sacrifice.
This time around, Deadpool would like to end his time on the planet (for reasons that will I not divulge—though by now, you’ve probably read about it). However, he cannot, no matter how hard he tries (and Deadpool really does—I hear there will be even more attempts in a future DVD), so like it or not, he has to don the mask and prove himself worthy of entry into the Kingdom of Heaven--or wherever deceased superheroes go. At first Deadpool tries to join the X-Men, but events go awry, leaving him as an unwilling adoptive—and imprisoned guardian for a fellow prisoner--a troubled young mutant called Firefist—and the unwitting target of time-traveling cyber soldier Cable (Josh Brolin—who has certainly been making the superhero movie rounds, and is quite effective here). Cable’s mission is to take out the volatile and increasingly dangerous Firefist (well-played by the way, by Julian Dennison). In order to save the young Firefist and combat Cable, Deadpool assembles his own team (a la X-Men), including Zazie Beetz’s Domino, whose superpower really involves a heck of a lot of good luck.
Deadpool 2 has more than enough humor and pithy references to satisfy both Marvel mavens, as well as those “newbies’ who are just out to have a good time. Under David Leitch’s direction, the action scenes aren’t bogged down with the usual Marvel bloat, and the film manages to display the heart at the center (without displaying it on its sleeve). And do stick around for the mid-credits sequence, which includes a devastatingly funny final gag.
What do you get when you gather four attractive older women and have them discuss literature? Well, when the book in question is Fifty Shades of Gray and the ladies are Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, you’re left with Book Club, a very entertaining bauble in which their exploration of the book leads them to question their own lives. Steenburgen is trying to rekindle her spark with recently retired spouse Craig T. Nelson; Fonda’s entrepreneur is trying to avoid intimacy with old flame Don Johnson; Keaton’s widow is trying to avoid being exiled to her grown kids’ basement and find happiness with warm-hearted pilot Andy Garcia; and Candice Bergen looks to enter the dating pool in the wake of her ex-husband’s (Ed Begley Jr.) engagement to a much younger woman. Since Book Club is, at heart, a comedy (albeit with some poignant moments), one needn’t be looking for a lot of depth. Instead, one should come not only to appreciate the four actresses, all who are in fine form but the laudable contributions of the male contingent (including Richard Dreyfuss as one of Bergen’s dates). If you can’t get into one of the superhero films (or the new Han Solo origin opus), consider this very entertaining Book Club an ideal opportunity for a date night of your own.