Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Well I’m done with finals now so I can get back to doing this dumb blog that no one reads that makes me no income whatsoever.

A lot of people tend to not realize that comic books aren’t 100% aimed for children. Now I admit that there are a lot of material that can be descried as being “just for kids” but there are also plenty of books that have no business being in a ten year old’s collection. Mature reader books are also nothing new; some of the most popular titles from the Golden Age of Comics were very adult oriented. However today we’re more used to the campy, fun-loving style of superhero comics made popular during the Silver Age of Comics and, even though such things have long since stopped being popular, the general population usually think of this when the subject of comic books are brought up.

So it’s no surprise that whenever a studio makes a movie based on a comic book, specifically a superhero one, that we tend to get a little confused when it’s less 1960’s Batman camp and more sex and violence. Kick-Ass however was apparently upsetting because the little girl swears a lot.

Wait, what?

Chloë Grace Moretz auditioning for Pulp Fiction 2: The Squeakquel

Okay look, America: every time you throw a hissy fit about “bad language” the rest of the world thinks we’re wimps. They are words being uttered by actors. An eleven year old girl dropping C-Bombs isn’t the worse thing in the world. In fact if you are a parent and you believe that your kids never swear when no authority figure is around then you are dumb.

Kick-Ass is, of course, based on a comic book of the same name which was written by Mark Millar, who also wrote the original comic that Wanted was (Loosely) derived from, with art from John Romita, Jr. who is one of the industry’s most prolific artists. What is unusual about this case though is that Millar sold the movie rights before he had even released the first issue! Meaning that both the film and the book were in production at the same time! That rarely happens over here in the States (Though it happens all the damn time in Japan); as a result of this the second half the movie deviates quite a bit form the source material.

The story focuses on Dave Lizewski (Played by British actor Aaron Johnson), a teenaged comic book dork who one day wonders to his friends why there are no superheroes in real life and then the very next day becomes a real life superhero calling himself Kick-Ass. No training, certainly no super powers; just a skinny, lanky kid with far too much time on his hands. It goes about as smooth as it possibly can. Things start getting real fairly quickly when Kick-Ass becomes an internet sensation, and why not? A kid in a green jump suit with sticks fighting a bunch of thugs in a parking lot is much more interesting than the Dramatic Chipmunk.

And the winner of the Internet is...The Dramatic Chipmunk


While this is going on two other costume vigilantes begin their war on the Frank D’Amico Criminal Organization: the murderous Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. Soon Kick-Ass finds himself caught in their conflict and realizes that being a superhero isn’t all peaches and bubblegum.

This film is the newest attempt of filmmakers to deconstruct the superhero genre and it’s kind of like Watchmen meets Superbad; a serious depiction of what would happen if superheroes existed, but with a horny teenager as the lead making it more funny than not. And for the most part it works. It’s cynical, sure, but nowhere near as much as the original comic. The story has a point and it makes it, while along the way we repeatedly see Dave get the crap kicked out of him by damn near every criminal in New York. It’s funny and violent, which is hard to pull off both at once so Kick-Ass should be heavily commended for that. The structure of the story works well enough, though the romantic subplot is pretty unrealistic. But hey, it sure beats what happened in Millar’s piece. In fact if you read the original comic and haven’t seen the movie yet I can tell you right now this is the definition of a “Hollywood Film”. It has to be. The source material, if adapted panel by panel, would have been less funny “Haha” and more funny “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (i.e. not funny)

The characters are what make the film work of course. Regardless of what you might say I really liked Dave. He’s clearly mentally broken considering he decided that he’s going to suddenly fight crime despite being as about as prepared as you’d imagined an isolated High School comic book nerd would be. But he has a good heart, demonstrated by how selflessly he tries to do the hero gig. He goes out, not thinking of reward of any kind, to do any job no matter how small whether he gives your boyfriend a “Dear John” message or goes looking for your lost kitty cat. He genuinely does want to help people, though his love of comic books has clearly put him on a rather insane path. Kid, next time get a job at a soup kitchen or something.

He's still more heroic than Wolverine, if nothing else

Aaron Johnson is fine as Kick-Ass, though you can kind of tell he’s not an American when he tries to fake the accent throughout the film. Also he (Born in 1990) is totally engaged to 43-year old director Sam Taylor-Wood who is pregnant with his child. This has nothing to do with the movie; I just think it’s creepy. So creepy. I get freaked out when I, a 25-year old, am attracted to a 20-year old. Oh well, I guess it’s just how Sexual Predator Town Cougar Town works these days. Anyway Nicholas Cage once again emerges from his dark cave of mediocrity to co-star in a film, but surprisingly he doesn’t do too bad a job. He plays Big Daddy as a campy Adam West-type character (Except he brutally murders opponents) but out of the costume portrays a very loving and disturbingly wholesome father to his daughter (Except that he’s teaching her how to brutally murder her future opponents). Cage actually delivers a fairly complex role, and while this is far from being the best we’ve seen him it makes me wonder why he doesn’t put out more performances that I can actually get behind as opposed to the garbage I’ve seen him in the last decade or so.

Clearly this was Cage's finest work

The real star of this movie is Chloë Grace Moretz who steals the show as Hit Girl. From her swagger to her fight scenes Moretz pretty much makes you wonder why the movie wasn’t called Hit-Girl Begins. I seriously see big things in this young girl’s career provided she doesn’t find herself hooked on “The Drugs” or preggers as a teen. She needs to be a responsible adult and wait until she’s 43 to get knocked up, preferably by a British teenager. Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Chris D’Amico and he’s alright, I suppose, but the character is pretty similar to every other role I’ve ever seen him play. Seriously the only difference between his performance here and in Superbad and Role Models is that the characters he plays are in wildly different circumstances and thus aren’t exactly the same, but still pretty damn similar. Now maybe this is his fault, but I assume it’s more of the fact that he’s officially been typecast. If he ever gets a radically different role I’ll comment on his acting ability.

Despite the premise of the film the movie as a whole feels pretty unrealistic to me whether it was the plot or the action scenes, but it honestly didn’t bother me. In fact most criticism I heard about this movie weren’t a problem for me when I watched it. The main one that I could agree with was that Kick-Ass, upon the arrival of Hit-Girl, becomes a supporting character in his own movie. So yeah, this kind of happens, but really it’s because of two things: #1) I really think this movie is about a hapless teenager who finds himself caught up in a war between merciless gangsters and violent vigilantes who seem to misunderstand his intentions. He needs to be the average person who watches the crazy events happen because otherwise his core character is lost. We do focus a lot more on the more capable Hit-Girl, but we need to. Dave can’t have an interesting back-story, she can. Dave can’t be super badass in a fight, she can. If anything I’d call him a POV character in a dangerous situation. It’s kind of like watching war coverage through the eyes of a reporter brave enough to be there, but not trained to fight: His role is important and central by default, but it’s understood the real story is elsewhere. #2) Hit-Girl is awesome. Still one could make a pretty compelling argument that our protagonist just wasn’t interesting enough to carry a whole movie on his shoulders which is one of the worst mistakes you can make while trying to make likable main character. This is a judgment call you’ll have to make yourself.

Ultimately I really enjoyed the film. The action is fast paced and fun, if stylized. The story is above passable and does a decent job of being a commentary on the superhero genre while at the same time celebrates it in a way the comic failed to. Basically the first half of the movie mocks the absurdity of the concept of loonies putting on costumes and “fighting crime” but by the end the director apparently cried out “Superheroes Are Awesome” and did his best to convey that sentiment in film. So if you like colorful costumes and action this movie is for you. If you like comedies that are aren’t the usual cliché Kick-Ass is pretty much in that same vein as Zombieland from last year; take that how you will. I’ll say this: I thought this flick had the best climax I’ve ever seen in an action film.

Stay tuned for the sequel to "Hit-Girl Begins" titled "The Dark Tyke"

Due Summer 2012!!

Let’s give Kick-Ass 4 Adorable Pandas out of 5.


-The characters, especially Hit-Girl, are pretty dang fun

-Surprisingly good actions scenes

-The best climax of an action movie….EVER!!!!!!!


-Dave ends up less like the protagonist and more like some dude watching stuff happen (i.e. Hit-Girl being awesome)

-Weak romantic sub-plot that may bother more cynical folk.

One more thing to mention: this movie is supposed to take place in our world, where no weirdo has ever put on a costume and fought crime. However in the real world there are such folk out there! A surprisingly large amount, in fact. Click here to see more, God help you.

1 comment:

  1. 'Stay tuned for the sequel to "Hit-Girl Begins" titled "The Dark Tyke"'

    She's the hero you cunts deserve, but not the one you need right now


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