Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Deadpool and The Benefactor

On its way to a record-breaking President's Day weekend, Tim Miller's Deadpool is the latest craze from the Marvel Comic universe. While I'm here to confirm that the film is definitely a strong watch for a multitude of reasons, I can't say that I'm on board with the massive, over-the-top outpouring of affection handed to Ryan Reynold's decade-long passion project. Currently rated as #44 on IMDB's all-time movie list (which is unfathomable to comprehend), please temper those expectations and simply enjoy the ride.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a self-absorbed mercenary who finally experiences the powerful, life-altering ability of true love when he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). But as their emotional bond grows throughout the passing months, Wade eventually discovers that he's suffering from widespread late-stage cancer. Desperate to overcome the fatal illness and, more importantly, refusing to grow weak and feeble in the eyes of Vanessa, Wade disappears and accepts a nefarious offer to transform his dying body into a mutated form with super-human abilities.

Deadpool is a self-aware and relentlessly sarcastic superhero flick unlike anything audiences have ever experienced. The film's desperation for laughs becomes almost as detrimental as it beneficial. But comedy is the most notable aspect of Deadpool, its non-chronological and well structured story is delivered extremely well. This consuming 100 minute high-octane ride offers magnificent fight sequences, spectacular visuals and something the other film's from the Marvel universe always seem to lack, a developed and enticing villainous foe. Deadpool isn't the finest superhero film to ever captivate audiences, but it's one that's certainly worth a viewing, or two.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B

One of my targeted films during this past October's annual Philadelphia Film Festival was director Andrew Renzi's debut, The Benefactor. Not only was the movie set and filmed locally in the City of Brotherly Love, but The Benefactor also boasts an intriguing level of acting talent which includes Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning and Theo James.

Franny (Gere) is a wealthy philanthropist who unexpectedly loses his best friends in a tragic accident. Years later the deceased couple's daughter (Fanning) returns to Philadelphia with her new beau (James) and Franny graciously welcomes them back with lavish gifts and an overstepping friendship. And as the older man continues to sandwich himself in their lives in hopes of recapturing the past, Franny's darkest demons begin to surface and paint a broader picture of his troubled life.

The Benefactor is an aimless feature that continues to lose touch with the audience following each and every wandering step it takes. To the film's credit, though, leading star Richard Gere delivers a memorable and charismatic performance as a wealthy but frail individual who spirals further into an eye-opening world of addiction. There are some gripping and harsh moments sprinkled wonderfully throughout The Benefactor but, unfortunately, they become lost in the wider scope of the film.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

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