Kick-Ass

May 19, 2010
In an industry where Marvel has recently been acquired by Disney, comic book movies are no longer new ground. Kick-Ass is. This movie and its director, Matthew Vaughn, take the genre to new and controversial places. Proof? The film is a hard R, despite the fact that one of its main characters was 11 at the time of filming. The premise itself is hardly anything new: High school kid wants popularity, respect, and to beat bad guys, so he becomes “Kick-Ass” and starts to dispense his own brand of justice. However, Kick-Ass is no billionaire playboy, has no fancy inventions, no radioactive spiders, no Kryptonian origins, and no dramatic family death experience (his mother has an aneurysm at the breakfast table). Nobody in this movie has superpowers; only weapons. Bodyguards and henchmen are not knocked out and dragged away, they are stabbed, sliced and shot in the head, in a stylized violence akin to Kill Bill. Nothing about this movie is kid friendly, and in that way, it has a lot more in common with Watchmen than a typical Marvel film, like Spiderman. Also like Watchmen, the film tries to expose the psyche of someone willing to put on a mask, although this is somewhat camouflaged by bloody beatings and high school monologues. The opening scenes of Kick-Ass seem almost to belong in a Judd Apatow movie, but once it changes gears, the movie becomes something fresh and new: An ultra violent, ultra realistic movie about what it would be like if real people became comic book styled superheroes. Kick-Ass buys his costume off eBay and gains notoriety from YouTube videos. Superheroes walk the streets in costume. The Bat-Signal is replaced by a MySpace message. This is real life.

As far as actual performances go, most of the actors do surprisingly well. Chloë Moretz easily steals the screen as Hit Girl, the ruthless little girl with a purple wig and a thing for knives. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes as an actor. Nicolas Cage refrains from overacting in this movie, except when it is appropriate and funny (basically when in costume). His Adam West impersonating costume voice is hilarious. Aaron Johnson does an average job playing an average character, and while it would’ve been nice to see him put more into his roll, he was by no means bad. Christopher Mintz-Plasse finally plays someone not based on his McLovin’ character, and does surprisingly well.

Kick-Ass is a breath of fresh air in the comic book genre, and a good indication of where the genre is going, and while the violence and language will turn some viewers off, toning either down would only water down the movie into something boring, mundane and ordinary. Hollywood needs more risk taking directors like this.





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