Saturday, 27 March 2010

Kick-Ass: Does it?

Obvious title, simple answer.

Yes, it does.

Kick-Ass is a rollercoaster piss-take of/love letter to the superhero genre. If "Watchmen" was a slightly pretentious essay about the psyche of caped crusaders (epic, self-important, serious), then "Kick-Ass" is a teenage fan-collage of superhero tropes, bursting with colour, humour and snappy, scrappy set-pieces.

The film is based on an eight issue series by Mark Millar, the pen behind the comic-book inspiration for "Wanted", but this adaptation skews a lot closer to the source material than the Jolie/McAvoy caper.

Aaron Johnson is Dave Lizewski, a teenage comic-book nerd who, inspired by the mundanely hateful world around him, decides to become a superhero. He buys a wetsuit and takes to the streets to fight crime, with HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES. Along the way, he meets Big Daddy and Hitgirl: a dynamic duo massacring their way through the criminal underworld, Frank D'Amico: the head of said underworld, and Red Mist: McLovin in a funny costume.

Nic Cage, by turns geeky-but-caring/talking-like-Adam-West as Big Daddy, reminds us that he used to be a watchable, nay, entertaining presence on screen. Welcome back, Nic.

Johnson makes a credible bid for stardom with an endearingly awkward but forthright turn, Mark Strong adds another charismatic villain to his roster, and McLovin adds a few darker shades to his usual schtick. All solid, enjoyable performances by able actors; all overshadowed by a twelve-year-old girl.

Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl is already the most talked-about character in this film. A pint-sized assassin with a mouthful of cuss-words, she carves, slices and blasts her way through the movie like a whirlwind of chaos and destruction with a purple wig. She also plays cute-as-a-button to perfection, switching between childish preoccupations (asking to go to the bowling alley for a chocolate fudge sundae, whining "Daddy, you're not watching!" whilst showing off with a butterfly knife) and foul-mouthed action-hero one-liners with ease.

Parent groups and Daily Mail readers will cry that she represents the corruption of our youth and sets a bad example for children and shouldn't swear because kids don't know any swearwords in real life and yadda yadda. But most sensible people will recognise the birth of an icon as soon as she sets about dismembering a room full of drug dealers to the nursery rhyme chant of the "Banana Splits" theme.

Matthew Vaughn's use of often incongruous music lends an air of irreverent fantasy to proceedings, often giving familiar tracks a whole new identity as the marriage of image and sound welds into your cranium. He even gets away with using the "28 Days Later" theme to great effect in a protracted kill-fest.

Vaughn's direction and storytelling is of an assured level beyond anything he's ever done before. I'm a fan of "Stardust" and "Layer Cake", but this is leaner, meaner, punchier, spunkier film-making than he showed us in the past. This is probably due to the fact that, after being turned away from every major studio, he decided to make the film on his own and then see who wanted it. He scraped a budget of $50 million together, and off he went. Must be cool to be rich and have lots of rich friends.

For all the caustic verve, however, the film does soften a few of the comic's harder edges, and occasionally leans more toward the fantastic than the source-material did. The changes probably render the movie more satisfying for the general audience, but I'm not sure if they are in keeping with the tone of the original story. The accusation of making vigilantism seem appealing can be levelled more readily at the film than at the comic, due to Millar's representation of the terminally mis-guided heroes being replaced with crowd-pleasing righteousness.

So go and see Kick-Ass if you want a wild and crazy action comedy movie experience, but avoid it if you are overly sensitive about children killing LOTS of people and saying swears, people being microwaved, set on fire, stabbed, batted in the balls, shot, garotted or crushed.

Honestly, it's the most purely fun film I have seen in a long while.


  1. I can't even tell you how long I've been waiting for this movie. I'm seeing it on opening night, extremely jealous that you've already seen it!

  2. Great review, I need this film in my life.

  3. TUMTUM, based on the previews I was not going to see this movie. Now, based on your review, I an definitely not going to see the movie. I kid, I kid, I do forever kid. date?


  4. YES! I have been waiting forever for this movie! It sounds like it lives up to the hype, I am that much more excited! (exclamation point!)

  5. This movie makes me feel things that I have never felt before. I am so scared of dying before I get the chance to see it. Lord help me...

  6. Carolyn: Ner ner ner ner I've already seen it! etc.

    Dave: I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Kelly: You are just a big kid, aren't you?

    Sugar: I genuinely thought it was worth the fuss that people seem to be making about it.

    Chi: If we all pray for you, maybe the Lord will let you live long enough to see Kick-Ass. You are in our thoughts.

    As always; cheers for reading and commenting!

  7. Very interested in seeing it. Incidentally the outrage over Hit-Girl has already started in Australia (where I'm from). Parent groups are going off their nut....sigh

  8. Excellent review. I think in answer to all this controversy my latest entry on my blog might be worth a look. It's a piss take of all this commotion.

  9. I've seen it too, and I couldn't agree more with this review. I will be seeing the midnight showing simply because I can't bear to wait until the following day to see it again.

  10. I saw it about four days ago, and am seeing it again tonight. My heart has never pumped so hard/fast in a movie, and the action scenes were highly entertaining and made sense to the eye. Acting was insanely good, Mark Strong is likeable but you don't mind that he dies, and Nic goodness. What a hero.
    Music was heaps good, aaaaah I love this review and this movie!

  11. I'd just like to add that this finally came out in the US and I was more than pleased when I saw it. It fulfilled and then surpassed all of my expectations.