Lincoln's Movie Night: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Have you ever been sitting in a theater, and you’re having such a good time that you feel like it would be completely acceptable to high-five or hug the complete stranger sitting next to you? And when you look around, everyone else is having just as good a time as you are? Iron Man, Lord of the Rings… these are movies that made me feel this way. Now I can add Kick-Ass to that list.

The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson, Nowhere Boy), an ordinary high-schooler. He’s into comic books, hanging out with his friends, and the attractive Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca, How I met your Mother), who has a locker next to him. But as he states himself, he’s very ordinary. That all changes when, after a discussion with his two best friends leads to the question “How come no one’s ever tried to be a superhero?” Dave goes home, orders a wet-suit, and starts his training to become Kick-Ass.

Initially, things don’t go well. An early attempt at stopping crime winds up with him in a hospital bed, full of metal plates and with severe nerve damage. But Dave, who now “looks like Wolverine!”, heads back to the street, only to discover that there are real superheroes out there now, stopping real evil. Their names are Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). This collision and the appearance of even newer superhero Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)–who isn’t everything he seems– lead to a new trend, and a final confrontation with mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, in another sinister role after Sherlock Holmes) who isn’t too pleased with the heroes infringing on his activities.

The film is often “laugh out loud” funny. Some of the best moments come when Dave is out of costume, his interactions with his friends and with Katie leading to some awkward moments and fantastic one-liners. The deception he uses to become closer with Katie is enough to make you cringe, but you can’t help but get a guilty chuckle out of it, and the scenes in which his two best friends (Clark Duke and Evan Peters) are front and center are reminiscent of some of the best bits in Superbad or Juno. They’re not doing anything new, but they are funny.

This movie is violent. And at the heart of that violence, swearing like a sailor, and being the first thing everyone is talking about with regard to this movie, is Hit Girl. She slices up bad guys, trains with her father by getting shot wearing a bullet-proof vest at close range, and uses every swear word you were yelled at for using as a kid, and some you won’t even say now. And she is just as polarizing as you’d expect.

There were moments when I really enjoyed her. She’s a strong, young, female lead, reminiscent of Cassandra Cain, in a genre where oftentimes kids are either the ones getting rescued by the hero, or are the requisite ward of the older, more experienced hero. Hit Girl makes her debut in a spray of blood, a pile of bodies, and the already infamous use of the c-word. In these moments (in which she kicks more ass than our titular hero), she’s brilliant. However, a video game inspired sequence in one of the later battles felt flat and (almost) offensive to me, dehumanizing characters, and a moment when the over the top satire of this film just became over the top. For the most part, though, Vaughn keeps his tongue firmly in cheek, using bubblegum pop or Joan Jett to underscore bloody battle sequences.

The moments that didn’t work as well with Hit Girl were her interactions with her father, out of costume as Mindy and Damon Macready. There are scenes of their domestic, normal lives, but moments that should have had a bit more emotional impact were cut short, lessening what I felt watching them. I was disappointed that a scene towards the end of the comic between Hit Girl and Kick-Ass, that hit me like a punch in the gut while reading, didn’t make it to the screen.

You won’t laugh the entire time. The film, like any satire, turns unexpectedly dark a few times. One scene is directly informed by our world of internet executions, and several of the fights are deadly serious, reminding you that, while you’re watching a bunch of ‘superheroes’, this is still based on reality.

Is this the prophesied “death of the superhero genre” I’ve been reading about for the past few weeks? Nah. While Vaughn does poke fun at superhero cliches, he also shows a distinct love for them. Training sequences recall Spider-Man, Nicolas Cage channels Adam West, and a moment at the end is a homage to a certain Jack Nicholson character. This is really the same thing we went through with Watchmen last year; yes, it’s a different kind of superhero film, but it is still a superhero film. And it is a helluva good time.

Kick-Ass is rated R. Seriously. A hard R. C-Word R. Dudes getting their legs chopped off R. Please don’t take your eleven year old to this. I know I said it was a superhero movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s for kids. It opens Friday, April 16th in the US.

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 22:07 by Lincoln Eddy · Permalink
In: Reviews

One Response

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  1. Written by Keiichi Arima
    on 2010-04-17 at 14:36
    Permalink

    Hi there, is that your blog……..? Oh, yes, Keiichi Arima's name. They call me Keiichi-kun. My studio (Kaijestudio).

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