Author Topic: Kick-Ass *****  (Read 18921 times)

Najemikon

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Kick-Ass *****
« on: March 24, 2010, 10:20:24 PM »
Kick-Ass
5 out of 5




Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a comic book geek who wonders why no-one tries to be like the heroes he reads about. He soon finds out the painful truth when he decides to try, as Kick-Ass, and ends up with vicious crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) out for his head.

Since the superhero genre revolution took off properly with Spider-Man, mainstream cinema seems to have been aimed purely at kids, with even Die Hard 4.0 and Terminator: Salvation retooling once adult franchises for teens. Maybe 2010 will see that put right with The Losers, The Expendables and The A-Team all to look forward to and hopefully not pulling punches. The irony is the bar has already been set by a superhero movie! Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar’s hilarious comic, is astonishingly violent and ready-made to cause some healthy controversy. Yet it is equally entertaining and has bags of substance. Despite being a parody of superheroes, it feels fresh and original throughout. This is Shaun of the Dead for costumed freaks and similarly destined to be a modern geek classic. The trailer sets you up without revealing just how layered the film is.

It starts like a typical teen superhero story, with Dave and his friends wondering why no-one tries to be a super-hero. One more mugging later, Dave is determined to prove it can be done and so dresses up to go out and make a difference. He is quickly brought down to earth with a shocking failure in his first half-arsed attempt to stop car thieves. Nevertheless, he ends up with dead nerve-endings and a metal pins (Wolverine?) throughout his body meaning he can take a beating. So he can’t resist trying again and through no small amount of blind luck, ends up on the Internet as Kick-Ass, in the first of several sharp digs at modern media (later a TV news report has to end a live broadcast because it is too shocking, despite it being uncensored on the web!). Fame and cheap merchandising quickly follow, despite him being nothing more than an enthusiastic idiot.

That brings him to the fascinated attention of a two proper, highly skilled heroes who keep a low profile at odds with their costumes. Big Daddy is a Batman figure, possibly harder actually, while his 12 year old highly trained daughter Hit Girl is simply like nothing you have ever seen before. Your jaw will drop at the petite foul-mouthed killer who can clear a room of thugs without breaking a sweat! Her fight scenes are incredibly inventive and bloody, without resorting to the silliness of Wanted, also based on a Mark Millar comic, and the finale is simply glorious. Matthew Vaughn brilliantly handles all the threads with an inventive and confident style, featuring an animated comic sequence and one fantastic moment from a first person shooter perspective, yet never loses focus of the central theme.

While it is very funny, the witty story, full of comic book references, also has a conscience and a clear sense of mortality and bears comparison with Alan Moore’s Watchmen. The violence isn’t really gratuitous (well, not much!) because it forces both Dave and the audience to realise the sobering cost of what he’s trying to do. This is supported by a great cast of well defined characters, anchored by Mark Strong’s Frank and Nicholas Cage. Normally he brings a dose of insanity to relatively normal characters, but here he softens Big Daddy, who is clearly nuts, with subtle honesty. Cage has been turning into a self-parody for years, but he is superb here and gracious in his performance alongside sparky Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. That Superbad’s McLovin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, as Red Mist and Aaron Johnson as Dave aren’t lost in the mix is testament to both their performances and the finely balanced plot. There’s even room for a sub-plot as Dave pretends to be gay to get close to dream girl, Lyndsey Fonseca.

For me the defining superhero films are Superman, The Dark Knight and The Incredibles. Kick-Ass can easily sit alongside them. I’m just not sure that the teenagers are going to be happy settling for Tony Stark, because Iron Man 2 is already looking dated!

Offline Tom

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2010, 11:11:21 PM »
I can't wait to watch this movie. I have to wait until April 22nd until it starts in Germany. But I am expecting the comic to arrive tomorrow and I will read it beforehand.



Offline goodguy

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 11:49:14 PM »
Kick-Ass

Doesn't happen very often, but yours is the first review I read. So, thanks.

Your jaw will drop at the petite foul-mouthed killer who can clear a room of thugs without breaking a sweat!

I just hope she has enough screen time. Who cares about that green guy?

For me the defining superhero films are Superman, The Dark Knight and The Incredibles. Kick-Ass can easily sit alongside them.

Such an enthusiastic review, why associate it with boring movies? Well, except for The Incredibles. I skimmed through some IMDb reviews and someone called it a cross between Spider Man and Kill Bill - I likewise hope he is wrong on the first part.

EDIT:
This review pretty much sums up what I'm afraid of:
http://www.fosteronfilm.com/misc/superhero/kick-ass.htm
Quote
The real flaw of the film is that it leaves Hit-Girl. Every moment with Dave and his high school friends is a moment you'll be longing for Hit-Girl. Does her screen time make up for the general amusing mediocrity of the rest of the movie.  Oh yes, many times over.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 12:22:50 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2010, 01:10:05 AM »
Kick-Ass

Doesn't happen very often, but yours is the first review I read. So, thanks.

This was the reason I started the blog. SeeFilmFirst could offer preview tickets on the understanding you review the film. So for the first time, I've got the jump on a release date! :thumbup:

Your jaw will drop at the petite foul-mouthed killer who can clear a room of thugs without breaking a sweat!

I just hope she has enough screen time. Who cares about that green guy?

...

EDIT:
This review pretty much sums up what I'm afraid of:
http://www.fosteronfilm.com/misc/superhero/kick-ass.htm
Quote
The real flaw of the film is that it leaves Hit-Girl. Every moment with Dave and his high school friends is a moment you'll be longing for Hit-Girl. Does her screen time make up for the general amusing mediocrity of the rest of the movie.  Oh yes, many times over.

I can't agree with that review and he's making the common mistake of saying "I like that bit, so I wanted more and it was a bad film because there wasn't more". Just shows a misunderstanding of the story. Dave ("Kick-Ass") is the story. Hit Girl and Big Daddy work because they support his arc. If it was the other way around it would be predictable. Fun, but meaningless. Go in with an open mind and it might surprise you... but she gets plenty of screentime, don't worry about that! If anything, I was wishing for more Big Daddy; Nic Cage is awesome in this film.

You could say Kick-Ass is the plot, but those two drive it. He is generic to some extent, which is why that story impressed me. And remember it is a comedy and he provides the biggest laughs (if you let him) while BD and HG are also funny, but also give it heart.

That's what I meant about the trailer. There are more layers to what seemed a pretty sown up premise.

For me the defining superhero films are Superman, The Dark Knight and The Incredibles. Kick-Ass can easily sit alongside them.

Such an enthusiastic review, why associate it with boring movies? Well, except for The Incredibles. I skimmed through some IMDb reviews and someone called it a cross between Spider Man and Kill Bill - I likewise hope he is wrong on the first part.

Enthusiastic because it was so much more than it needed to be. Heck, if it was just about Hit Girl, I'd have rated it high, but the balance makes it special. Well, for one, I don't find them boring.  ;) For another, they represent for me the building blocks of the comic book superhero [film] genre. Superman for the fantasy and hero-worship; The Dark Knight for the obsession and reflection of the characters and for recognising the inherent absurdity of the stories; and The Incredibles for the sheer quality of pure bubble-gum entertainment. Kick-Ass takes all of that and adds something of its own.

The link to both Spider-Man and Kill Bill is valid, but I think misleading, which is why I didn't mention them. Kill Bill is exploitive violence, while Kick Ass is more organic to the narrative. It's in your face, but brief, efficient and important to the story, while Tarantino was lingering on it as a mirror of the characters. In other words, Big Daddy may have taken on The Crazy 88, but grenades would have been involved to get them done with faster! Not honourable swordplay. But there is the idea that Kill Bill is a clever twist on the superhero, so fair enough.

The Spidey link is so obvious that was another reason to ignore. But don't be concerned. It's used to subvert the clichés, not to ride in on ready-made set-ups. The start of Kick-Ass is geeky kid, failing to fit in, gets a reason to be a hero. It plays on what we know about Peter Parker's arc. And then makes it very clear that -powers or not- a high school kid dealing with ruthless drug lords is very, very far out of his depth.

snowcat

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2010, 08:48:47 AM »
Interesting, Im going to see this soon.

I read the comic when it started coming out in ...uhh... 2008?

Its a great story and I admit the film looks true to the story and very funny.

Jon, how can you not consider Spider-man defining in the superhero genre? I think even people who are not fans of the film or the series have to admit that it started something major for super hero movies, yeah it may be obvious but it still happened. I know you said its aimed at kids but think back. The original movie was a 12, I wouldn't say it was aimed at the  kids it grew to be aimed at.

I remember when Spider-man was released there was up roar about it being a 12, it was the reason 12A was created....Infact, I was in Norfolk at the time of release and the town I was in was one of the few that chose to rate the film PG to get kids in.
 
...You mentioned Terminator Savation... well, I think that was a ploy to get money from merchandise... I remember having Robocop toys when I was about 4... (I also remember watching it continuously as a child...I was strange) Robocop is an 18! gone are the times when you can sell toys from an 18 rated movie to a 4 year old kid.... :p now are the times when you can remove the swearing and blood, release a billion toys and make a bucket load of cash of those poor little kids who beg there mum for the latest GI Joe super awesome helicopter  :P

(If this is makes no sense, I just woke up -_-...I need to stop using the Internet when I just wake up.)

« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 08:52:58 AM by Emma (snowcat) »

Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2010, 02:55:02 PM »
Emma, I didn't say I didn't like Spider-Man, I do. Part 2 is even better. It's a milestone in showing what could be achieved. But I don't consider it one of the fundamentals if you consider super-heroes as a genuine sub-genre. Both films make mistakes and concessions to it being a blockbuster. I'm looking strictly from the point of view of structure, character, narrative, etc. Even if The Dark Knight had only made pennies, it will always be the more important contribution.

Again, I'm not saying the Spidey's aren't good (although part 3 is bloody awful), but I just think those 3 or 4 are more important.

I do remember the fuss over certification, but that is a PG film just for one scene (Peter fighting without his mask towards the end stops it being fantasy violence and just plain old violence).

Marketing of films like Robocop or Terminator hasn't changed, but they knew what they were doing years ago. I was 9 when Terminator came out and I remember being desperate to see it. It was like a Holy Grail to a kid! Now, there's none of that. Everyone just queues up to see the same generic retreads. There's no anticipation. It's rubbish.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 02:58:30 PM by Jon »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2010, 04:52:25 PM »
Marketing of films like Robocop or Terminator hasn't changed, but they knew what they were doing years ago. I was 9 when Terminator came out and I remember being desperate to see it. It was like a Holy Grail to a kid! Now, there's none of that.
I was more than 9 of course, but the big difference at this time was that the movies were always movies and not just product of the week made to earn 50 millions in their first weekend to be forgot a couple of weeks later. I always sound like a broken record when I say thing like that, but it's true the real cinema is dead since more than 15 years... All the heart and soul of the industry disapear when the CGI appeared, untalented wannabes began to appear in everything, the MTV editing took more and more place, talented directors were put on the side to be replace by studio hack, script began to be copy&paste job, the last drive-in closed its door, the independant cinema closed one after another and so on.... 

Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2010, 08:05:11 PM »
Coming full circle, the nice thing about Kick-Ass is that it's pretty much an independent movie dressed up as a studio production. Vaughn went outside the system to get it made. It makes sense really. What big studio would risk a reputation on one it's characters being a 12 year old killer girl who swears that much? They should, but would get cold feet every time. Kick-Ass might just be good enough and successful enough to start a small backlash against the big studio movies.

That's why I referenced Iron Man. I liked the first one and look forward to the second, but it's unlikely to have the punch of Kick-Ass.

Offline Tom

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2010, 10:38:26 PM »
I just read, that the girl playing Hit-Girl stars in the American remake of the great "Let the Right One In" called "Let Me In" coming out later this year.



Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2010, 10:43:03 PM »
Really? That's not a film I'm interested in, but I have to respect that casting. At once shows they're possibly taking a slicker direction, and demonstrates they might be thinking.

Still a pointless remake for people who can't read. ;)

Offline Tom

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2010, 07:43:18 PM »
I have finished reading the comic now, and I did enjoy it. It was a fast read.
According to the trailers of the movie adaption I have seen, I think the movie could be a good adaption of the comic.
Though I am guessing they changed some things for the movie. Going by the trailers I am guessing that Hit-Girl has a bit of a different character. I wouldn't expect the movie Hit-Girl I know from the trailers be at the same point at the end like she was in the comic.
(click to show/hide)

I wonder how much the film-makers knew about the comic's ending (as the last chapter has only been released recently as far as I know). I also wonder if all the pop-culture references survived (like Kick-Ass comparing his the view the people had of him in the beginning with Heroes' season 1 and the current state with Heroes' season 2).



Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2010, 08:00:37 PM »
Tom, you might be surprised, but the comic and film were written at the same time. In effect, it ended up being a collaboration. Mark Millar had written the first issue and the rights got snapped up immediately. Both parties then pooled ideas about how it should develop. It's fascinating actually that both versions have a separate identity, considering their development (not read the comic yet, but seen the pictures and I know they look different). I don't know if the ending is exactly the same, but in reference to only what you said...

(click to show/hide)

There are a lot of references, but I don't remember a Heroes gag. Definitely a lot though and some are very clever.

Offline Tom

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2010, 08:07:12 PM »
(click to show/hide)

I think I know what you mean. At least there is something in the comic:
(click to show/hide)



Najemikon

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2010, 09:10:36 PM »
 :thumbup:

That's it.
(click to show/hide)

Critter

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Re: Kick-Ass *****
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2010, 04:13:13 AM »
Jon! I just finished reading all 8 of the books in the comic series and damn am I glad they made changes from the books to the film.
Especially when it comes to Big Daddy as in the comics he was a
(click to show/hide)
.
I am so thankful now for the fantastic Big Daddy that Nic Cage delivered.
Oh and also
(click to show/hide)
I would love to see what the Daily Mail would have to say about that if it was in the film haha.