A blog about movies and filmmaking.

They Should Call Him ‘Ass-Kick’…

In action, comic books on April 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Why is it that everything people love, someone has to come along and try and kill it? There’s the iPhone killers, the puppy killers, and for a long time now there’ve been people trying to kill super-heroes. First came the Alan Moore/Frank Miller comics – Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns; then there was THE DARK KNIGHT, a movie which seemed to want to be the ultimate superhero movie (and well, it kind of was – but not genre killing); then the live-action version of WATCHMEN. But, the problem is, while each of these things might have upped the stakes a little bit, none of them are quite able to be the “end all, be all” of the genre. If nothing else, a couple of them just helped to raise the genre out of the ghetto of people thinking super-heroes are just for kids.

Then along comes Mark Millar. With his work on The Ultimates, to WANTED, and now we get KICK ASS. The movie adapted from the comic by Millar and iconic super-hero artist John Romita, Jr. I have to admit that I’ve not read any of the comic – or honestly more than an issue or two of any of Millar’s work. But with the new story, brought to life by co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn (STARDUST, LAYER CAKE); we get another attempt and I have to say it’s probably the closest we’ve come yet to a movie where after I raise my hands and say, “that’s it. We’re done.”

While the movie is by no means perfect, in the end it says most everything there is to say about the genre. Yes, the readers of super-hero comics like to imagine that super-heroes could be real, and that we might possibly be one of them. Yes, it probably would take some insane – or just “not too right in the head” – kind of people to put on a mask, a costume and try to fight crime. And yes, super-hero costumes in real life look a little silly and would be made out of things like rubber, vinyl and body armor. But it also covers why people are correct in not putting on costumes or possibly even intervening when we see someone in trouble.

Why risk our own necks? More than likely, if we’re beaten, stabbed, lit on fire or blown up; there’s not going to be some miraculous “ground-breaking” surgery that will save us, that will make us better than new/normal. No, we’ll just be dead, or handicapped, or possibly even sued.

The cast is all pretty great. Each of the main adult actors in the movie, play their roles straight, with a slight tongue-in-cheek vibe going on. Mark Strong, once again bringing the fire to a villainous character (and looking mighty awesome with the bald head – which he’s done before). This time he plays crime boss, Frank D’Amico. A man who gets intertwined in all of the super-hero’s business in one way or another. He’s a pretty conventional movie villain, with the added bonus of showing that he’s trying to be a good family man too. He hesitantly leaves his family at the breakfast table. He leaves a torture scene so he can take his son to the movies. He also gets to kick the crap out of a 12 year-old girl.

Nicolas Cage plays the character Big Daddy, a man who has spent a portion of his life working to get vengeance on the man that ruined his life, and that of his daughter’s. With an Adam West-like cadence in costume and constantly fidgeting with his glued on facial hair, Big Daddy is said psycho that dresses up like Batman in order to dole out his own kind of justice. Which just happens to be at the end of various fire-arms and bladed weapons.

His daughter, also known as Hit Girl, is played by Chloe Moretz (500 DAYS OF SUMMER), who also uses all of the weapons, listed above, along with some fantastic-looking martial arts skills (both of the wire-fu and acrobatic, varieties). She also cusses like a sailor, has no remorse about killing anyone, and likes hot chocolate and sundaes. She’s been built up as stealing the movie – which she does – but it’s not all in the purple wig and giant bladed weapons; we see the shell of a little kid who has only known training and vengeance as a way of life. So, for her to ask for twin butterfly knives for her birthday, or to go straight for the kill spot on an enemy; that’s her idea of normal and her father’s idea of expressing love.

And if there was a message in the movie, I think; it would be that of kids looking to express themselves to their parents. It’s most present in Hit Girl and Red Mist – played pretty wonderfully by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (SUPERBAD) – the latter of which only becomes a super-hero in order to help his father. But, we see both of these kids attempting their best to impress their fathers, in whatever way they can. Kick Ass’ father is kind of a non-entity in the movie, and his only real moment with his son is pretty much after it’s been decided to hang up being Kick Ass.

Then there’s Aaron Johnson, the eponymous hero, Kick Ass. At the beginning of the movie he asks why no one has ever tried being a super-hero. He quickly learns and the great thing about this character, is that he’s never really shown being that good at being one. He can’t even save a lost cat, for crying out loud; let alone actually fight with any skill. He more reminded me of the STAR WARS kid from forever ago – with his flailing around. In his civilian guise, his name is Dave Lizewsky; a normal kid who likes comics, has a crush on the “hot” girl at school and lives in a single parent home. But as he says, he doesn’t want to become a super-hero in order to exact revenge, or for some ultimate plot; but just in order to do some good.

KICK ASS is great. There are a number of call-outs and homages to other movies. There’s a theater marquee showing THE SPIRIT 3, as now playing; the opening credits play like the teaser trailer for the original (1977) SUPERMAN movie; and there’s even a couple of not so obvious Batman callouts – with the final line of the movie being one of the more blatant ones.

The movie has heart, some hilarious moments, and really is a definite warning sign to anyone looking to put on a costume and fight crime. You want a movie to watch and inspire vigilante justice, try the great looking HARRY BROWN, or THE BRAVE ONE, or even DEATH WISH. But leave the super-heroics on the page or screen.

  1. never compromise

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