Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick Assing It Old School

Kick-Ass is one of those movies that suffers from the massive amount of positive buzz that precedes it. If you spend any time reading movie sites, you've been exposed to a large number of people describing Kick-Ass as if it had the entertainment value of every good movie you've ever seen combined with a Scarlett Johannson blowjob. Now, the movie is okay. It's decent and somewhat entertaining, especially the action scenes, but it just didn't live up to its hype.

Kick-Ass is an unimaginatively named superhero created a by teenager named Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). Dave, in both his role as the movie's narrator and in discussions with his friends, wonders why no one has ever tried putting on a costume and dispatching vigilante justice. The reasons in real life are numerous but, in this movie, Dave discovers when he actually tries to stop some car thieves that one of the big reasons is the likelihood of being brutally beaten. Dave gets stabbed and hit by a car when he stumbles into traffic. He emerges from the hospital somewhat toughter due to metallic implants in his body and nerve damage that lessens his ability to feel pain thus giving him an actual superpower. Sure, it's a throughly lame superpower relatively on par with being able to make your nails grow at will, but Dave will take what he can get.

Surprisingly, being slightly more powerful than he was before doesn't keep him out of life threatneing situations and that's when he encounters competent costumed vigilantes in the form of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). They're the movie's most interesting characters and everything I liked about Kick-Ass involved them. The movie kicks up into the closest thing I've seen Americans do to crazy, Hong Kong style ultraviolence when they show up. Big Daddy was framed by a gangster named Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong in yet another solemn and boring villain performance) and so he recruited his 11 year old daughter to be both his sidekick and unstoppable vengeance machine. Roger Ebert hated Kick-Ass because of the violence against the little girl. I agree with him, at least part of the way. I knew when I saw the redband trailer of Chloe Moretz looking downright adorable shooting guys in the head that I wouldn't mind her being violent so long as she always came out on top. I figured that, if she ended up getting hurt, I would start booing and that was very nearly what happened. Hit-Girl is a great character but there is such a thing as a line and when that line was crossed my opinion of the movie went way down.

Still, you could have removed the scene in which Hit-Girl gets beaten and I still would consider Kick-Ass to be only somewhat entertaining. I was expecting more jokes, more satire and more interesting characters. A better villain would have gone a long way (though Frank D'Amico is redeemed somewhat by his son, a super villain named Red Mist played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse). The action scenes with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are good but that's about it.

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