The week I saw Kick-Ass was, not to be too hyperbolic, a Kick Ass week of Entertainment. It started with my last day Wondercon where I finally had time to catch How To Train A Dragon – Amazing movie, then when I got home from San Francisco, there was a copy of the season premiere of Doctor Who waiting for me, then that Wednesday I went to see a little movie called Kick-Ass. I was blown away by how much I loved this movie. It’s bold, over the top, funny and successfully blends a lot of different moods. This is how you do an adaptation! I didn’t need to know anything about the character or have read the source material to immediately understand what was going on and after watching the movie I immediately went to Amazon and ordered the Comic Book series it’s based on.
The movie’s conceit and central question is so simple, yet true, that never once did I question anything that was happening on screen. I mean really Comic Books and Super Heroes have been around forever and a day, yet in a world that has 6 billion people no one has tried becoming a real life vigilante. Why is that? The answer is simple – we’re all a bunch of scared little shits. Sure you’ll get that occasional feel good story about a man jumping on a platform to save some woman, or like last week in NY a man jumped into the Hudson to save a girl who fell off a ship. But you never see anyone actually dress up in costume and go out and try and save someone. Well maybe those Guardian Angel clowns.
Mark Miller and John Romita Jr. the same team that brought us the thoroughly reprehensible Wanted comic book are the brain trust behind Kick-Ass. I avoided reading that book because I really hate Mark Miller. He’s one of those guys who loves over the top violence – for no reason, just because he can get away with it. After reading Wanted I felt dirty and unclean. So needless to say I wasn’t really hot to see this movie. Screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan did an amazing job with this script. As I said, I didn’t read the book, I plan to after this review, so I can’t comment on whether this was true to the source material and this movie made it so you don’t have to know anything about these characters. It works very well as it’s own thing.
This movie is an hard, hard, hard R and not for kids even though it features one of the cutest kids you’ll ever see, sweet little Mindy Macready (Chloe Moretz) who just happens to be a sociopathic vigilante called Hit-Girl. Boy does her name fit. Trained by her daddy, an ex-cop who becomes a killer vigilante Big Daddy – (Nicolas Cage in his best performance in years) she becomes a living weapon. I’ve never seen or heard of Moretz before this but she is absolutely brilliant. Director Matthew Vaughn (who did another one of my favorite films – Stardust) doesn’t shy away from having this, 11 or 12, year old girl doing all sorts of bat shit insane stuff – like running up and flipping off walls while shooting 5 guys with an Uzi, and slicing some guy’s head off with a sword in another.
Vaughn does a brilliant job with the camera and his style is such that he never gets in the way. His staging of action sequences is flawless. They are innovative, but he never resorts to shaky cam, or quick edit tricks. He just parks his camera and lets the ass kicking to commence.
I spent most of this movie talking about Cage’s Big Daddy and Moretz, but let’s not forget the main star Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) his performance isn’t as great as the other two, but it’s solid. How can you not root for this helpless sap whose only power is that knows how to take a beating and be earnest while doing it. This isn’t like other movies where you expect him to suddenly know karate and, you know, start kicking people’s ass. No, he just takes his beat downs until the cops show up. I love the movie’s quieter moments when Dave is just hanging with his buddies. There’s a ridiculous love interest in the movie, but it works. There’s a lot of weight to everything that’s going on, the ending is stunningly layered with various emotions and over the top action at the same time.
The movie’s pacing is spot on; the comedic moments are funny and come at just the right points in the movie. There’s a great scene at the end that involves Elvis. This has to have been Nicholas Cage’s dream project the movie has everything he loves – Comedy, Elvis, Comic Book Super Heroes, and Over the top Action. It just so happens, these are all the things I love and it’s executed perfectly. I left the theater giddy with happiness, a feeling I haven’t had leaving a theater in a long time – well, not counting How to Train a Dragon.
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