MOVIE REVIEW: The Deadpool film you can take the kids to
In the space of two blockbuster action movies, Deadpool has made quite the notorious name for himself.
Known to his legion of fans as The Regenerating Degenerate, Deadpool has strayed further into the don't-go-there zone than any other superhero in motion-picture history.
Lashings of very blue humour and very graphic violence - always delivered at breakneck speed by star Ryan Reynolds - have made Deadpool's Marvel stablemates look quaintly old-fashioned by comparison.
The red-suited motormouth can seemingly get away with anything.
Putting that notion to the absolute limit is the release of Once Upon a Deadpool, in which the franchise makes a surprise play at the family-friendly market
Since news broke of a softer, lighter Deadpool being tailored for an American PG-13 audience (the movie has attracted an M rating here in Australia), there has been a lot of debate among fans as to how this could possibly work.
Well, Once Upon a Deadpool does indeed work, despite having its star conspicuously clean up his act.
The new movie is essentially a selective re-editing of the mid-year box-office hit Deadpool 2. No F-bombs are detonated in the dialogue, and the camera invariably moves away before flesh is pierced, limbs are severed or blood starts flowing.
To plug some of the sizeable gaps in the screenplay, a framing device has been borrowed from the classic 1987 all-ages movie The Princess Bride.
As in that much-loved affair, Deadpool's anarchic adventures are now being relayed as a cosy bedtime story to a not-so-enthusiastic Fred Savage (who played the same role as a child in The Princess Bride).
The bulk of the new movie's fresh material can be found in the rapid-fire back-and-forth between Reynolds and Savage. Both take broad, good-natured swipes at everything from gaping plot holes in the original Deadpool 2, through to Disney's impending takeover of Deadpool's parent studio 20th Century Fox.
It will be interesting to see if Once Upon a Deadpool finds widespread favour with the franchise's existing fanbase, as only 20 minutes of new scenes can be found within the two-hour running time.
However, for younger viewers previously unable to experience Deadpool's surreal brand of mayhem on the big screen, this is one bedtime story worth hearing the whole way through.
ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL (M)
Rating: Three and a half stars (3.5 out of 5)
Director: David Leitch (Deadpool 2)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Fred Savage, Zazie Beetz, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison.