Kick-Ass: A Real Kick in the @#&%$

19 04 2010

Kick-Ass, based off the Mark Miller comic book, has been highly anticipated by film lovers and comic lovers alike. The trailers (in particular the red band trailer) promised a superhero movie like none other – violent, crass and unapologetically un-kid friendly. Since its release, critics and fans have largely agreed that the movie was a success; however, Roger Ebert, among others, have questioned the film’s young, 11 year-old star, Chloe Moretz – not only does she curse like a sailor, she brutally shoots, hacks and stabs goons right and left, easily racking up an impressive body count by film’s end. With good reviews pouring in and a bit of controversy to top it off, Kick-Ass is bound to be a hot topic for a while. Here’s the breakdown:

Bent on living his dream as a real-life superhero, Dave Lizewski creates his alter-ego, Kick-Ass. Little does he know that there really are superheros out there, most notably, Big Daddy and his butterfly knife flinging sidekick, Hit Girl. Caught up in a feud with the notorious D’Amico family, Kick-Ass must decide whether the crime-fighting life is really for him.

The Monkey: Great direction from Matthew Vaughn and a stellar cast elevated Kick-Ass above your average superhero flick. With a relatively low budget, Kick-Ass managed to deliver original action sequences with solid performances. Aaron Johnson’s Dave Lizewski was relatable, without being stereotypical. Nicholas Cage’s understated humor as the patriarchal Big Daddy worked surprisingly well, and his onscreen relationship with Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl was one of the film’s gems.

There were definitely humorous moments in the movie, but the best moments were the expertly choreographed and shot action sequences. From warehouse massacres, to penthouse shootouts, strobe-light gun fights to bazookas there was no shortage of violence, blood and mayhem. And, enjoyably, it all felt fresh, never-before-seen. This is hard to do, considering the vast array of action films in existence.

The Weasel: The tone of the movie was inconsistent. Based on the trailers, movie-goers expect an in-your-face,  irreverently comic romp through a twisted superhero movie; however, the final cut was a bit more (and less) than that. While funny moments existed, the majority of the film was surprisingly dark and dramatic. While some of the best dramas have comedy and some of the best comedies have drama, the juxtaposition that exists in Kick-Ass is unsettling. This awkwardness was nowhere more apparent than during a scene where audiences are expected to laugh at the antics of Dave’s foil friends, while at the same time witnessing a heart-wrenching death of a primary character. Layering emotions makes for great filmmaking, but confusing your audience and being unclear as to what kind of movie they are watching is rarely successful.

Another point of contention: Kick-Ass is not a “real-life superhero” movie. It starts that way, with Dave trying to stop a car robbery, etc., but the movie quickly turns into nothing more than a revenge rampage. Dave joins forces with Big Daddy and Hit Girl, not to become a superhero, but to exact revenge; he basically becomes a mercenary. And maybe that’s what the movie was trying to say, that real-life superheroes would be nothing more than hired-guns – but this wasn’t communicating effectively, either in the script or in the marketing campaign. Perhaps the comic did a better job with these themes.

A wonderfully shot, original action movie that could have used a bit more consistent plotting – a violent, comedic superhero adventure, or a darker, more dramatic action flick? Either direction would have been preferable to the final product.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Did Kick-Ass walk the line between dramatic action movie and irreverent comedy successfully? Is all the controversy around Chloe Moretz’s performance warranted? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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