For a review of “Dead­pool 2,”

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The se­quel to 2016’s “Dead­pool,” the Marvel-mock­ing movie from Marvel, be­gins, not sur­pris­ingly, with an in­joke. It rightly as­sumes that its au­di­ence has seen “Lo­gan,” the crit­i­cally ac­claimed “X-Men” film that dared to show us — spoiler alert — the death of Hugh Jack­man’s pop­u­lar Wolver­ine char­ac­ter. “Guess what, Wolvie?” Dead­pool (Ryan Reynolds) sneers, in­ten­tion­ally blow­ing him­self to smithereens be­fore the open­ing cred­its. “I’m dyin’ in this one, too!”

For fans of Dead­pool, this is red meat, a sig­nal that the anti-hero’s snarky, self-aware per­sona — which made the first film a $780 mil­lion suc­cess — has not changed. He’s still the sick-hu­mored school­boy of the Marvel uni­verse, the de­facer and de­baser of self-se­ri­ous su­per­heroes and their box-of­fice ve­hi­cles. He’s a hard R in a PG-13 uni­verse.

But wait — how can Dead­pool be a satir­i­cal fig­ure when he comes from the very Marvel ma­chine he’s os­ten­si­bly spoof­ing? He can’t. Like the first film, “Dead­pool 2” is filled with crude jokes and bloody vi­o­lence, but it isn’t gen­uinely sub­ver­sive.

Dead­pool him­self breaks the fourth wall by speak­ing to the au­di­ence (point­ing out fore­shad­ow­ings and clumsy plot points) and some­times ad­dress­ing an un­seen movie crew, as when he yells, “Hit it, Dolly!” be­fore killing a room­ful of peo­ple to the strains of Dolly Par­ton’s upbeat hit “9 to 5.”

Let’s face it, though: These movies aren’t nearly as dar­ing as, say, the “Air Pirates” comics of the 1970s, which glee­fully de­filed Mickey and Min­nie Mouse, or Mel Brooks’ hot poker to the butt of the Amer­i­can Western, “Blaz­ing Sad­dles” (1974). The “Dead­pool” movies oc­ca­sion­ally push the bounds of taste, but they don’t take real comedic risks.

Viewed as more of an ac­tion-com­edy, then, “Dead­pool 2” works pass­ably well. Reynolds, the ami­able Cana­dian ac­tor (he also co-wrote the script), has clearly found his in­ner id as a foul­mouthed mu­tant. There’s an ap­peal­ing new char­ac­ter, Domino (Zazie Beets), whose de­cep­tively sim­ple su­per­power is be­ing lucky. Josh Brolin glow­ers ca­pa­bly as Cable, a time-trav­el­ing cy­borg who — with very lit­tle credit to “Ter­mi­na­tor” — is try­ing to as­sas­si­nate a mu­tant kid named Rus­sell (Ju­lian Den­ni­son). Di­rec­tor David Leitch brings at least some of the stunt-driven en­ergy that made his “Atomic Blonde” so thrilling.

Dead­pool’s many jokes about comics and film fran­chises make it hard to care about the story’s themes of team­work and sac­ri­fice, but surely that isn’t what au­di­ences came for. When Dead­pool taunts Cable by calling him Thanos, the role Brolin just played in “Avengers: Infinity War” — now, that’s the pay­off.

“Dead­pool 2,” a Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox re­lease, is rated Rated R for bloody vi­o­lence, lan­guage. Run­ning time: 119 min­utes. ★★½

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

The like­li­hood of mak­ing a suc­cess­ful Han Solo pre­quel were ap­prox­i­mately 3,720 to one.

There was the also ba­sic ques­tion of whether there was a pur­pose to even make “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Like Princess Leia, we swooned over Har­ri­son Ford’s smug­gler over the course of his ap­pear­ances in four “Star Wars” movies be­cause he was a scoundrel. And an enig­matic one at that. If his mys­te­ri­ous past was sud­denly re­vealed, would he re­main as in­ter­est­ing?

More­over, it didn’t in­still con­fi­dence when di­rec­tors Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller (“The Lego Movie”) were fired dur­ing pro­duc­tion of “Solo” — even if they were re­place by the tal­ented vet­eran, Ron Howard.

Some of us had a bad feel­ing about this. But never tell Lu­cas­film the odds. Be­cause the stu­dio some­how suc­ceeded — mostly, any­way.

In the sci-fi heist movie open­ing May 25, a young Han (Alden Ehren­re­ich) es­capes servi­tude on his home planet to set out to earn his for­tune. He latches on to a gang of thieves led by Beck­ett (Woody Har­rel­son) out to steal a ship­ment of the ex­plo­sive fuel, coax­ium, for a crime lord (Paul Bet­tany).

That brings him into the or­bit of a femme fa­tale from his past (Emilia Clarke) and a cou­ple of fa­mil­iar faces from the fu­ture in fel­low out­laws, Lando Cal­ris­sian (Don­ald Glover) and Chew­bacca (Joonas Suo­tamo).

The Kes­sel Run that the film takes from ac­tion set piece to ac­tion set piece is al­most fast enough to ob­scure sev­eral con­ve­nient co­in­ci­dences and plot holes. Of those there are too many, con­sid­er­ing that the script is by Lawrence Kas­dan — who wrote the best in­stall­ment in the fran­chise, “The Em­pire Strikes Back” — and his son, Jonathan.

For­tu­nately, “Solo” is fu­eled by a stronger power source than mere coax­ium — nos­tal­gia. For “Star Wars” fans, it’s an en­joy­able love story — be­tween a boy and his Wook­iee.

It’s not, how­ever, a uni­ver­sal love story. A lot of the ref­er­ences (and a ma­jor plot twist) will sim­ply go over the heads of tourists who are only pass­ing through this galaxy far far away. (Knock a half-star off the review if you fall in that camp.)

De­spite mid-pro­duc­tion re­ports of stu­dio dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Ehren­re­ich, the “Hail, Cae­sar!” ac­tor fills Ford’s boots — both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively. Ehren­re­ich man­ages the right bal­ance of chan­nel­ing Ford with­out mim­ick­ing him.

Glover chews his way through the scenery of sev­eral star sys­tems with such aplomb and charisma that one can only hope for a “Lando: A Star Wars Story.” But Clarke isn’t given enough to do, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how high-im­pact the fe­male char­ac­ters have been in the last three “Star Wars” films.

The movie’s real hero, how­ever, is Howard. He man­aged to bring a fun, if slightly scuffed up, joyride into the­aters — against the odds.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” a Lu­cas­film re­lease, is rated PG-13 for sci-fi ac­tion/vi­o­lence. Run­ning time: 143 min­utes. ★★★


Alden Ehren­re­ich, right, and Joonas Suo­tamo star in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

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