Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kick-Ass (2010) Review

Kick-Ass film poster
Kick-Ass 2010
Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl 2010
Kick-Ass fighting thugs
Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass
Nicolas Cage in Kick-Ass
Purchase from Amazon: DVD - Blu-Ray - Stream

Other films by Matthew Vaughn: Layer Cake, Stardust, X-Men: First Class
Similar films: Kick-Ass 2, Super, Defendor, Watchmen

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca
Genre: Superhero, Action, Comedy

Based on the comic book of the same name written by Mark Millar with illustrations by John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass is one of the greatest and most enjoyable superhero movies I have ever watched.

A certain question comes to high-schooler Dave Lizewski: "why has no one tried to be a superhero before?" It's a question that nags at him until he decides to do it himself. Donning a mask and costume, Dave becomes Kick-Ass, a lackluster crime fighter and a teenager who has no idea what he's getting himself in to.

There's plenty of noticeable differences from the comics, but this was actually a good thing in my opinion, as I found the comic to be incredibly mediocre. The comic set up some great potential, but it utterly failed in living up to that potential and ended up being completely mindless, misguided, and convoluted. The film, however, managed to break free from its source material's pretensions and mediocrity.

The violence in the film is over-the-top rather than pseudo-realistic and gritty. The action is incredibly enjoyable, well choreographed, and executed to perfection. The violence definitely translates better on screen than it did on page. After watching, you won't soon forget Hit-Girl massacring an entire hallway of armed thugs in well-utilized slow-motion. It's stylish, operatic action that celebrates its exaggerated violence. And it's awesome. The action is over-the-top in the vein of silver age superhero comics; it embraces its comic book nature and takes advantage of its superhero camp.

There's plenty of references to catch in here, whether they be visual, vocal, or stylistic, from Spider-Man to Tim Burton's Batman to Hong-Kong action movies. There's a lot; probably more than a single person can ever catch in a single viewing. Admittedly, like in the comics, a lot of the humor revolves around/relies on the referential nature of the film, which may understandably seem cheap to some, but it's done pretty well and most of the time is actually fairly hilarious.

Pardon the pun, but the soundtrack is kick ass. It exploits songs we're all familiar with to great effect, like Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" or the Banana Splits song as covered by The Dickies. There's some excellent, almost satirical, use of Ennio Morricone. Then there's some songs in here that may surprise you; personally, for me, hearing "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" by Sparks, one of my favorite bands, was a great surprise. Some fantastic tracks that amplify the on-screen action well and make the film all the more enjoyable.

There's some top-notch acting to be witnessed in Kick-Ass. Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl does phenomenal as the foul-mouthed killing machine. Not only does a lot of the film's action involve Hit-Girl, but so does a lot of its humor, and Moretz delivers a great performance on both fronts. The always enjoyable Nicolas Cage is on top of his game here as well, playing Big Daddy, Hit-Girl's off-beat and crazy father. With an Adam West-like performance and a voice that is surely a nod at The Dark Knight, Cage brings plenty of great humor and action to the film as well and is unbelievably enjoyable to watch. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, still known to most as McLovin, does a good job here also as the spoiled and snobby rich kid in a superhero costume.

Kick-Ass just may be my favorite superhero movie made so far, which surprised me being that I wasn't a big fan of the comics. What's genius about it is that I think while fans of the comic will be satisfied, it also removes a lot of the things non-fans didn't like, making it potentially enjoyable to non-fans of the comic as well. It's a loving homage to comic books and action movies, and it's both a good comic book movie and a good action movie. Though not perfect, it's still a must see for anyone even mildly interested.

3/5 stars

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