THE EARLY verdict on “Deadpool 2,” which arrives Friday, is about as simple to piece together as the straightforward plot of the Fox film itself:
Did you like the first “Deadpool”? Then you’re likely to warm up to the superhero sequel. What the follow-up can’t possibly provide in freshness this time around, the consensus says, the new film makes up for by trying a bit more tenderness.
Beyond that, the recipe’s nearly the same for the merrily sophomoric sophomore outing: The Merc With a Mouth (Ryan Reynolds) snarks his way through pierced fourth-walls and slices his way through katana-pierced baddies by the score.
And the numbers for the first wave of reviews Tuesday bear out the similarities between the films: The sequel is doing slightly better on Metacritic.com (average score: 68) than the first film did (65), and the follow-up is running nearly dead-even on Rotten Tomatoes (84 percent “fresh”), compared with the original (83).
Whether positive or negative, the reviews tend to seize on many of the same elements, such as: Can meta-humor and a blender of pop references help prop up a second effort? Does the motormouth charm and wry super-charisma of Deadpool/Reynolds sufficiently counterbalance the rough hit-or-miss quotient of the jokes? And do you, the viewer, enjoy second helpings served up almost slavishly similar to the first?
Variety is among those outlets that find the second go-round even more tasty than the first, writing: “In almost every respect, this sequel is an improvement on its 2016 predecessor: Sharper, grosser, more narratively coherent and funnier overall, with a few welcome new additions. It’s a film willing to throw everything — jokes, references, heads, blood, guts, and even a little bit of vomit — against the wall, rarely concerned about how much of it sticks.”
Uproxx also sees the original as inferior to “Deadpool 2,” in which the indestructible Deadpool/Wade Wilson tries to deal with antagonist from the future Cable (Josh Brolin) and form a lower-rent X-Force:
“Is Deadpool 2 obnoxious? Is it needlessly self-aware? Is it drunk on its own fairly tame naughtiness? Is it so stuffed full of unrelated pop culture references that it sort of feels like a meme shirt come to life? The answer to all those questions is a resounding yes, but it’s also, weirdly, refreshing.”
The Chicago Tribune likewise bends toward the sequel, writing that “Deadpool 2” is “just like ‘Deadpool’ only more so. It’s actually a fair bit better — funnier, more inventive . . . and more consistent in its chosen tone and style: ultraviolent screwball comedy.” The Tribune also calls the follow-up “a bracing corrective to the Marvel traffic management smash of the moment, ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ which has sent millions of preteens into a collective, low-grade cloud of fatalism.” “Deadpool 2” is rather “for the jaded, arrested-development adolescent lurking inside your adult self.”
The Wrap, however, offers a middling review, writing that “Deadpool 2” “never betrays the promise of the first film; it just doesn’t build on it, choosing instead to replay the greatest hits,” and calling the sequel an “entertaining but by-the-numbers do-over.”
The Los Angeles Times is more negative, writing that it “feels too much like more of the same: more of the same gross-out gags, more of the same irreverent jokes, more bits where Deadpool has to regrow severed limbs to the disgust of everyone around him, more running commentary on the movie he’s in.”
The New York Times knocks the sequel for using “its self-aware irreverence to perform the kind of brand extension and franchise building it pretends to lampoon.”
Similarly, Vulture damns “Deadpool 2” by saying that while the franchise might score meta-laughs at DC and Marvel Studios’s expense, the film is “less a satire” of superhero saturation at the cineplex “than a symptom of it. It has zero suspense — it’s too hip, too meta, for suspense.”
Vulture also lambastes new-to-the-franchise director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) for serving up CGI action that “is brutally edited and mostly undistinguished.”
And Slant Magazine says that “Deadpool 2’s” hip veneer masks comics-referencing trickery common to superhero cinema, with “the only significant difference between the callbacks here and the ones in, say, Anthony and Joe Russo’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is that they’re played for laughs rather than applause.”
Meanwhile, one positive aspect that reviewers don’t dare spoil is the clever post-credits scene. The Hollywood Reporter warns: “Any moviegoer who hops up once the credits begin will be sorry. While its most delightful surprises are toward the beginning of the credit roll, it’s worth sitting through to the end — especially for any viewer who was [earlier] too distracted by the decapitations, fireballs and impalings.”