Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is one of those movies you can't help but enjoy. It never takes itself too seriously and openly borrows from its fellow "super hero" films while turning the genre on its ear.

From designing a costume, to the training montage, to the first fight with the bad guys, everything hints at the greatness of someone like Spider-Man while constantly reminding the viewer the world of Kick-Ass is more firmly rooted in our own and, therefore, everything must eventually go wrong in hilarious fashion.

The bad guys of Kick-Ass' world don't wear capes and spout evil catchphrases. They shoot people in the face. And when a do-gooder shows up in a mask to cause trouble, their approach to the situation is similarly violent.

While Kick-Ass (the character) is still living in his comic book dream land, a couple masked vigilantes by the name of Big Daddy and Hit Girl show up to make it clear real-world criminals require real-world solutions of the gleefully vicious variety.

This is when the film truly starts to shine, living up to it's name in over-the-top violence and preposterous brutality. Given early comments about how "graphically violent" the movie is, I was surprised by how tame some of the action actually was. A few CG bullet holes and blood sprays here, a quick cut to a single leg being removed via katana there, and Kick-Ass' bucket-o-blood volume was actually quite low. It's the force and energy with which these actions are delivered, backed by a great soundtrack that makes it hard not to tap your toe to the beat of henchmen being murdered, that gives Kick-Ass its punch.

That, and the fact Hit Girl is supposed to be eleven years old. Say what you will about role models, but if your child is in a position to be affected by Chloe Moretz's potty mouth and ninja-caliber antics, I question your parenting. Just because the main characters wear costumes does not a kids movie make.

Speaking of Moretz, she and the rest of the cast are actually pretty spot on. It's clear that everyone really enjoyed their roles, playing it dark and serious when appropriate and falling on their asses when the time was right. There's a bit of silliness and a cheesy one-liner here and there but, given the premise of the film, it all fits.

For fans of the comic (which you all should be), you'll be happy to know the film stays true to the source material while still changing enough plot points to keep you guessing.

In the end, Kick-Ass is exactly what I wanted it to be- a celebration of comics and gratuitous violence. Sometimes you need a Citizen Kane. Others, you just need to get your ass kicked.

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