Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Special Request: Kick-Ass


Release: 04.16.10
DVD Release: 08.03.10
Rated R
1 hour, 57 minutes


Self-acknowledged high school geek Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson, The Illusionist) decides to dress up as a superhero and fight crime. Had he thought beyond his initial brain fart, he would have realized the streets hit back pretty damned hard. After miraculously healing from his first beatdown, Dave makes a name for himself on the youtube as Kick-Ass. His video escapades draw hundreds of fans, the attention of the highly trained heroic duo of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, Ghost Rider) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz, 500 Days of Summer), and the ire of one seriously nasty crime boss, Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong, Sherlock Holmes).

Given all the buzz surrounding Kick-Ass, I was psyched to see it opening weekend. Though I tried to temper my excitement with low expectations, I still came out of the theater underwhelmed. The pacing was very uneven; long segments of exposition and backstory for particular characters tripped up the rhythm of the action-y bits. The parallels to the numerous superhero sagas that came before (Spider-Man and Batman being the most obvious) were a nice touch, but these nods could only hold my fanboy attention for so long.

It's a shame because writer-director Matthew Vaughn along with writer Jane Goldman are responsible for one of my most favorite fantasy flicks of recent memory; Stardust. I found their adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel quite enjoyable, though I can't speak to its faithfulness having never read it. But, I digress. Ultimately, I just didn't give a shit for Kick-Ass Dave. He was an idiot who had about as much sense as he did nerve endings. On the other hand, Big Daddy and Hit Girl's relationship was more easily understood; fucked up, certainly, but strangely sympathetic. Even the motivations of Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Role Models) were understandable, though his evolution into Red Mist was neglected.

Dirty Undies
There's been much ado about the violence of Kick-Ass, and really, it's about nothing. Sure, some people might not like watching a twelve-year-old girl shoot, stab and beat the shit out of criminals while cursing like a sailor, but the low quality CG was more upsetting than Hit Girl's home training. Kick-Ass tried hard to be gritty and real in the beginning, so why did it devolve into a cartoonish bath of blood and appendages?

The Money Shot
I've heard such glowing praise for Kick-Ass I can't help but second guess my initial impression. The plight of Dave and the dangerous duo offers a refreshing spin on the heavily saturated superhero genre. While I know I'm going to watch it again, the film still won't kick as much ass as Hit Girl.

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  1. Aw, too bad. I was hoping to see Kick Ass some time because of all the good hype. Maybe I'll put it off for a while now...

  2. Never really expected it to be amazing, but it did exceed serviceable.

  3. @Sadako: It's still worth watching, just don't let the hype get you too hopeful.

    @Simon: I wish I had toned done my "amazing" expectation. I probably would have enjoyed it more. I'm really anxious to watch it again, just to enjoy it for what it is, instead of what I wanted it to be.

  4. i absolutely loved this film, going "f*ck yeah!" several times....mainly cause of the bad asstest little girl ever in history!

    i thought it was really different

  5. @IW: That's exactly why I need to see this again. I keep wondering if I wasn't in the mood for 'different' when I saw it.

    BTW, I haven't forgotten about the Killshot request, just sifting thru my backlog at the moment.

  6. it's timely to review "killshot" (which i didn't know was by elmore leonard)'s on cable all this month

  7. @IW- Good lookin' out. Plus JGL and Rourke have movies in theaters right now. The stars are aligned.

  8. Hit Girl is absolutely the heart and soul of this film. I think the notion that Kick Ass is an idiot is actually pretty central to the story. Maybe they overdo it, but I think he has to be pretty hapless, which is exactly what sets him up for a hard lesson from the real deal.

    ...and Hit Girl would make a great villain, ...Hm!

    1. Hit Girl would totally rock as a villain. She'd be unstoppable. I've seen Kick-Ass a time or two since this post and I appreciate Kick Ass (the xter) more now for his simple nature than before.