Sometimes a film is so hyped we feel the need to review it twice in the interests of balance. Well, here are two opinions on the latest nu-skool superhero film Kick Ass
Director: Matthew Vaughn Release Date: March 26th Words by: Tara Judah Kick Ass on IMDB Once all the A-list comic books and graphic novels have been made into feature length films, there are two options for continuing the cash cow, 1) move on to the B-list, or 2) add to the A-list. It’s unsurprising that the money-making genii at Marvel would go for option 2, given the current climate of all things super hero. But with great invention comes great expectation, and recently released Kick-Ass (2010) is an exemplary case in point. The film version of Kick-Ass was optioned before the first issue of the comic had even been penned, and this is certainly a sign of things to come. The success of super heroes has been as closely linked to merchandising and publicity as it has its heroes own super strengths since the dawn of double-identity time. What’s most interesting however is that the comic book and screenplay were written collaboratively, at the same time (something which ought to frustrate any film historians out there who like to categorise writing under screenplay and ‘original writer’). So without the cult following most comic books and graphic novels would have usually already secured through their written and illustrated pages, Kick-Ass had to find itself an audience. Lo and behold a cult following for its content already existed in the form of other comic book and graphic novel fans who were already awaiting new innovative content and action heroes. Add to that the current success of super hero movies for ‘everyone’, and by that I mean people who’ve never even glanced at a comic book or graphic novel, let alone picked one up, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent audience. But what is it that makes Kick-Ass stand out? Well, these heroes are both contemporary and ordinary. And not in the way The Watchmen were (although I dare say it’s off the back of that success that the genre has sufficiently opened up and paved the way for ‘ordinary heroes’ in the first place). So the cast of heroes in Kick-Ass are just a bunch ordinary people who’ve costumed up to fight the bad guys. Well, actually, they’re a whole lot more than that… When Dave Lizewski wonders why no one has ever caped-up to become a real life super hero, his friends aren’t particularly respondent. Living a mundane, typified ‘geek’ life, Dave gets himself a costume and tries to take on some local muscle. After a video of his renegade actions viral on YouTube, Dave – aka Kick-Ass – becomes the newest phenomenon in his local town, solving small-scale crime one email at a time. But unbeknownst to Dave, there is a greater cesspool of criminal activity bubbling away, which he is about to butt his way into. Enter Hit-Girl and Big Daddy. When Dave discovers there are trained heroes – packing a helluva lot of heat no less - and who have a greater agenda he is put back into his amateur place (literally his bedroom) and marvels at real deal father-daughter duo, Damon and Mindy Macready. After a bit of back-story and the insertion of a girl for Dave to ‘get’, the real action finally begins. The story itself is silly and juvenile in a wildly entertaining way with a series of ludicrous happenings that would no doubt constitute the pinnacle of any young boy’s fantasies. The action sequences are well paced and choreographed beautifully, their impact as entertaining as popcorn viewing can be. From an action only perspective, Nic Cage is by far the star of the show and it’s something of a shame that his character won’t play a greater role in what is, for now, only speculatively, the Kick-Ass franchise. Chloe Moretz, who plays Hit-Girl, is the media’s little darling right now and her alleged real-life innocence has only enhanced her foul-mouthed movie charm. However, it must be said that choosing such a naive young girl to play such an edgy role might actually have been the film’s greatest casting error. When she does utter ‘the C word’ she looks so painfully uncomfortable saying it that its intended affect falls flat, leaving a bewildered child onscreen and a bemused audience in the auditorium. Paving the way for a hoard of other not-quite-hero heroes, Kick-Ass gives the power to the little people, “With no power comes no responsibility. But that’s not true.” Indeed, with or without ‘power’, super heroes and ordinary heroes alike must gain the respect of both their audiences as well as their contemporaries. It’s one thing to get the girl (which, by the way, he obviously does) but it’s quite another to get everyone else, beyond the confines of the screen world. Occasionally too self-conscious but often enough on the money, Kick-Ass is a great piece of entertainment that will win you over in the end. Photobucket
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Words by: Rob Beames I'll come right out and say it: ‘Kick-Ass’ is a brilliantly entertaining film. Probably the most entertaining film I have seen so far this year. Well paced action, excellently choreographed stunts and a game cast combine to elevate this independently produced superhero picture into something quite exciting. Matthew Vaughn (‘Stardust’ and ‘Layer Cake’) couldn’t find a studio who wanted to bankroll the project due to the high levels of violence and swearing, so Vaughn opted to find the finance himself and has made what may be considered the first independent blockbuster since the days of Howard Hughes. I have not read the Mark Millar comic book on which the film is based, so I couldn’t possibly comment on whether the film remains true to its source material. What I can say that this film is a damn sight better than the last film I saw based on one of his books: ‘Wanted’, which starred James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie as a couple of arsehole assassins, was a truly hateful movie. It has some parallels with ‘Kick-Ass’ in that both are ultra-violent and depict a world in which violence is morally fine so long as the people you are killing are deemed “bad”. Both also have a central character who is basically a weedy outsider (McAvoy in ‘Wanted’ and Aaron Johnson as the title character in ‘Kick-Ass’), but whereas ‘Wanted’ seems to preach that physical weakness is contemptible and has its hero using violence as a way to put himself above others in society (by the end of the film he is superior to his old workmates), ‘Kick-Ass’ is less troubling, as its central nerds are celebrated by the film and are allowed to remain outsiders. In fact in ‘Kick-Ass' the title character is more often the one whose ass is being kicked and, whereas ‘Wanted’ seems to have a nihilistic hatefulness about it, ‘Kick-Ass’ celebrates its naive heroes who are basically determined to protect people and right percieved social wrongs. Now, even though I found it a lot less distasteful than 'Wanted', there are all sorts of problems with ‘Kick-Ass’ from a political point of view (none of which are too dissimilar from last year’s horrid ‘Harry Brown’ which Vaughn produced). The film has an uncomplicated view of crime (bad people commit it) and an equally uncomplicated view about how to deal with crime (the mass murder of criminals), not to mention that the film’s hoodlums are pretty much all played by ethnic minorities and are of low social class. British actor, Mark Strong, plays his villain as a prototypical Italian mob-type, whilst Nicolas Cage (an Italian-American actor) plays his hero as an ethnically “white” everyman figure. But everything in ‘Kick-Ass’ plays out like a Warner Brothers cartoon (with ‘Kill Bill’ levels of violence and swearing) and is injected with a lot of humour. Whereas ‘Wanted’ is self-consciously “cool” (in a way aimed at pubescent boys, with leather jackets, guns and sexy women belonging to socially retarded geeks) and promotes a violent attitude towards society, ‘Kick-Ass’, with its geek heroes, is always more self-effacing - with one of the vigilante’s portrayed by McLovin’ from ‘Superbad’ (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) - and is somehow ultimately better natured and easier to stomach as a result. Now I’ve catered for my conscience I can get to writing about the things I really enjoyed about the movie, which was one of very few recent films in which I didn’t check my watch (it packs a lot of great stuff into just under two hours), as it held my attention throughout. For starters, whilst Mark Strong, Aaron Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are pretty good in their respective roles, Nicholas Cage and the thirteen year-old Chloë Moretz give brilliantly funny performances as the films two stand-out characters: the father and daughter pairing of ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Hit-Girl’. Nicolas Cage displays suburb comic skills (previously seen in ‘Raising Arizona’ back in 1987 and, more recently in 2002’s ‘Adaptation’) whenever he’s onscreen, with his character (a softly-spoken, gentle father who turns his daughter into a violent, gun-obsessed killer) switching to an Adam West impression when adopting his ‘Big Daddy’ persona. This is not only a playful nod towards Batman of the 1960s, but also possibly a humorous take on Christian Bale’s much-derided change of voice when he dons the armour of the Dark Knight in Christopher Nolan’s films (whatever it is in homage to... it is hilarious). The action sequences also remind me of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Of course, they are formally more similar (as is the film's visual style and design) to Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’, but they remind me of ‘The Dark Knight’ because that film represents the last time I really enjoyed action sequences in a cinema. The set-pieces are played out like the very best Warner Brothers cartoons in that they are imaginative and funny in the way they choose to deal pain to all involved (the dispatching of a key villain literally caused me to burst into spontaneous applause). I don’t want to spoil any of the set-pieces themselves here, but they are really impressive and varied (unlike ‘Wanted’ or ‘The Matrix’ in which all the sequences blur into one burst of slow-motion, bullet-time gunfire). The champion of these set pieces is, unquestionably, Moretz’s ‘Hit-Girl’ who really does kick ass whenever she is onscreen (in a manner recalling a miniature version of ‘Kill Bill’s ‘Gogo’). The Daily Mail will no doubt continue to hate ‘Kick-Ass’ for it’s bad language (the ‘c-word’ coming from the mouth of a thirteen year-old girl will do that) and over the top violence, even though the film’s politics aren’t altogether incompatible with that paper’s own. But putting those issues behind me, I have to admit that ‘Kick-Ass’ was terrifically good fun and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to go to the movies, sit back and get entertained. It is equal parts funny and exciting and (if it performs at the box-office) may provoke a new wave of independent movie blockbusters.