Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kick-Ass is exactly as described.

To know a comic book before it's been made into a film is geeky. Once the film is released, to not have known the comic book is super-uncool. In fact, this is true for all literature, and is best described by hipster-satirising author Christian Lander on his blog "Stuff White People Like" (See #127: Where The Wild Things Are).

I'm going to admit that I'm not a geek, and am therefore a total loser: I haven't read Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s comic, Kick-Ass. I heard about the film adaptation many months ago, and I still didn't jump on the bandwagon when I had the chance. FML, eh?

So, enough about what a disaster I am; back to the film.

Kick-Ass tells the story of overly-horny, comic-book-geeky, lucked-out teenager (how many hyphens was that?), Dave Lizewski, played by Nowhere Boy star, Aaron Johnson . Wondering why real superheroes don't exist, he picks out a particularly fetching teal and canary yellow body stocking from eBay, (with matching balaclava), and becomes the "Kick-Ass" of the title. His premier foray into the world of crimefighting results in him getting stabbed in the stomach, hit by a car, and much of his skeleton being patched back together with metal plates (but not in a cool Wolverine way).

But there ain't no stoppin' Dave. He's back in that suit and warding off gang members with his batons as soon as he leaves the hospital. Cue accidental embroilment in the drug business of NY mobster boss Frank D'Amico, and meeting real life superheroes in the form of "Big Daddy" (played by Nicolas Cage) and the 11-year old "Hit-Girl" (Chloë Moretz).

It's Moretz's performance that leaves your jaw on the floor of the cinema. If you've ever wanted to hear a 13-year old actress say the words "Okay you cunts... lets see what you can do now!" (with much conviction), then you've come to the right movie. Profanity aside, Moretz delivers the majority of the ass-kicking in the film, in terms of both violence and acting ability. Morally ambiguous and able to take a bullet to the chest with ease , Hit-Girl is the Anthropomorphic Personification of Cool 2010. Later this year, she will take on the role of Eli in the American remake of Let The Right One In, which I blogged about earlier this month. My skepticism at said remake has been eminently alleviated based on the strength of her performance as Hit-Girl. Yup, I just ate my words. EXPECT GREAT THINGS.

Nicolas Cage takes on a bizarre role as Big Daddy; Obscurity202 described his portrayal as an impersonation of Sheldon Cooper from TV series The Big Bang Theory. Entirely apt, with flecks of Adam West in there for good measure (Big Daddy's outfit is remarkably similar to that of a certain caped crusader. Wink.) Though I usually find Cage deplorable at the best of times, his unusually stilted dialogue coupled with lack of screen time made him less offensive (though I did cringe every time he said "Oh, child!" Creepy).

The only actor who I felt was badly cast was Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D'Amico/Red Mist. It seems that Mintz-Plasse cannot break out of the McLovin' sterotype in a similar way to Michael Cera being consistently typecast. Whereas Cera is making strides to conquer this, Mintz-Plasse seems eternally stuck, and I cannot envisage a future for him as anything other. Elsewhere, there are strong supporting roles from Clark Duke (of Clark & Michael, Greek, Sex Drive fame), Evan Peters, and Lyndsy Fonseca (Desperate Housewives).

Kick-Ass' script is electric, the narrative is impeccably paced, and, while shot in a typical Hollywood style, has some really ingenious technical moments (example: a night-vision first-person-shooter sequence). Oops, more hyphens.

Other than its obvious message of "anyone can be a hero", it strikes a deeper chord. In years gone by, a person would intervene to help their fellow man; today's society forces us to shirk away in fear, or as one scene in the film portrays, using one's videophone vicariously to record a violent incident and broadcast it on Youtube rather than the presumed instinct of calling the police. Kick-Ass addresses this fear and ignominy in the form of vigilante justice, and proves that such action is more relevant today than it ever was in the time of Batman.

With a not-so-gentle balance of gorey violence and riotous teen laughs, and backed by a killer soundtrack, Kick-Ass is just about perfect as far as the superhero/comic book adaptation goes, while at the same time being a completely new take on the genre. It is far more in the vein of Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World than a blockbuster like Spiderman, which makes it far more relatable and enjoyable. Having garnered rave reviews in every cinematic publication known to man, it seems I'm sorta right in saying it's HOLYFUCKINGAWESOME. Go see it!


  1. I saw this last night and loved it.

    Really great review. More of this, please. Actually, there's a press screening of 'I Am Love' on Wednesday. You'd be half-tempted, like.

  2. Ah thanks! I don't think I qualify as press...yet. :) Really want to see "I Am Love" again though, if only for that scene with the prawns.