Title: Kick Ass (2010)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz Plasse
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me: I'm a hardcore comic book collector. I used to buy every thing I could get my geek boy hands on, on a weekly basis! The latest issue, the latest special edition cover, the first appearance of this and that character. I stopped buying comics regularly because number one, it was getting expensive and number two, I was more interested in acquiring comics in which only the best comic book writers and artists worked on, I didn't want the weekly crap, I wanted the good stuff, the 'creme de la creme' as they say. If the art work and story weren’t exceptional, I just didn’t give a crap. Quality is #1 for me when it comes to reading comics. I like the good stuff. So now I just by the collected editions and graphic novels, and I only buy graphic novels from artists and writers that are worth a damn. As a result I have a massive collection of comics in boxes, waiting for the day when they will all suddenly sky rocket in value. Things are starting to look up, that first appearance of War Machine (Iron Man #282 ) is going up in price! But my love for reading comics has never died out. I know the excitement and joy of buying the latest issue of a comic you’ve been reading for a while. And that thrill of having that special edition that everyone else wants. Kick-Ass is a film whose storyline develops within this universe of comic book collectors and geeks. The kind of guys who love to hang out for hours and hours in a comic shop just talking comics.
Reading comics in a comic shop, comic book geek heaven
Kick-Ass is a film based on a comic book written by Mark Millar and drawn by the great John Romita Jr.; a comic book artist that I have always admired. His artwork has always had a style that I really enjoy. Romita Jr. has been working for Marvel Comics for years now, doing memorable runs on various Marvel comics. Amongst them The Amazing Spider-Man. But with Kick-Ass, Millar and Romita Jr. decided to take a stab at creating their own super-hero. This comic was released Marvel Comics Icon Imprint, a division of Marvel that produces creator owned titles. This means that Marvel prefers to produce comics which are still owned by their creators, as opposed to having these great artists and writers run off and self publish their own comics somewhere else. Kind of like what Todd McFarlane did with Spawn and Rob Liefeld did with Youngblood in the 90s. These two guys worked for Marvel Comics, got famous because of their splashy, stylish art then quit Marvel and went out on their own to print their own damn comics and subsequently, made millions while at it.
Issue #2 of Kick Ass. Prices have sky rocketed on back issues of this series!
Millar and Romita Jr. did their own take on a teenage superhero, and I got to hand it to them, they came up with something that is equal times familiar and equal times refreshingly original. I’m speaking only from what I saw in the film, because I have not had the pleasure of reading these comics. You can rest assured I will be searching out for that Kick Ass graphic novel as soon as I can!
Story for Kick-Ass concerns teenager Dave Lizewski, a dude who is fed up with being mugged and harassed by petty criminals. One day he decides he is going to make himself a superhero costume and go out and fight crime himself! The logic behind his actions is, why, if we watch so many super hero movies and read so many comics, does nobody ever actually dress up like a super hero and confront evil? The answer to that question is quickly handed to him when he confronts a pair of criminals trying to steal a car. He gets his ass handed to him for trying to stop them. But he doesn’t give up! After a quick recuperation period, he goes right back to the streets to fight crime. When his heroic escapades reach You Tube, he becomes an overnight sensation! He opens a MySpace page and suddenly requests for help start pouring in! Can Dave take on the responsibilities of being a hero? Or will it all prove to be a little too much for him?
Essentially, in its first few frames, this film feels a lot like Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. A nerdy teen (with glasses of course) decides he wants to be a superhero. He designs his own super suit on a little notebook, he goes to the roof tops to try and jump from one building to the other, he has a girl he likes but doesn’t dare tell her. He is poor. He lives with parents apparently oblivious to his super hero exploits. These similarities don’t surprise me since Romita has been working for marvel comics for years, and he himself has worked on a long run of Amazing Spider Man. But this movie takes one turn that makes everything else after that initial set-up completely original. It’s when our hero suddenly confronts brutal reality and gets his ass kicked by the criminals. His first adventure as a hero is a pretty brutal one! And that’s when the movie took me completely by surprise! I was like “no way did that just happen!” So the movie got me on its good side for surprising me like that.
What is most surprising about this movie is the blood and violence. The edginess it has, the profanity. The shits, fucks and cunts fly out of these kids’ mouths like there’s no tomorrow. Normally, this kind of super hero movie plays it really safe, I mean, just look at how squeaky clean the Spider Man movies are! There is not an ounce of blood in them. The violence is cartoonish, you never feel like the characters are in any real danger. But with Kick-Ass, characters bleed, they hurt, they end up in the hospital. They ache and pain.
Hit Girl, comic book version
One thing I always hated about comic book movies is the fear to show the “good guys” killing. This is normally a big no-no in comic book films because the target audience is almost always kids. That’s how Hollywood executives think. Comic book movie? Make it squeaky clean, and aim it at the kids. Look at Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. How ‘safe’ were those movies? Super safe that’s how safe! Villains end up killing themselves most of the time, hero’s don’t kill the villains themselves. I’m guessing the logic behind that is that they are the good guys. They shouldn’t be doing any killing whatsoever. But not on Kick-Ass! Take the character of Hit Girl for example, she is twelve years old, her father is a vigilante called Big Daddy, a Batman of sorts. They both go villain hunting, and when villains are confronted, they get maimed in really gruesome ways. Hit Girl is a character that has gotten a lot of heat because she goes around with her daddy killing bad guys.
I see why this can be seen as ‘controversial’. Of course having a 12 year old girl chopping of arms and legs with a sword is controversial, but this is just a movie, not to be taken seriously. I had a blast, seeing this deadly little girl kicking so much ass. It was a complete thrill, simply because that’s not the type of thing we are used to seeing a twelve year old girl do. So it’s shocking that way. Hit Girl goes around on a first person shooting spree that was so freaking awesome! And in night vision no less! Anyhow; I think this controversy can only do the movie good. People will probably go see the movie just to see what the big deal is all about. I have to give kudos to this movie for being so ballsy. That edge is what makes this film interesting. Call it controversial or whatever you want, Hit Girl kicks ass! She handles guns, knives and swords like a real expert!
I did find something strange about it. The movie is called Kick Ass, yet you don’t really feel like it’s his journey. You kind of get the feeling that this movie should have been called “The Adventures of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, and their side kick Kick-Ass” Yeah, we do see Dave’s trip towards becoming a true hero, we do see him go from Zero to Hero, but I have to say that Hit Girl stole the show. I’m not bringing down Aaron Johnsons performance as Kick-Ass. I think he played nerdy and vulnerable very well, but the truth is the truth, the focus of the film is on Hit Girl and Big Daddy, Kick-Ass is just coming along for the ride, learning the ropes of becoming a hero.
The Nic Cage factor is underplayed here, by that I mean he doesnt get that much screen time because the movie focuses mostly on all the other characters. Cage plays Hit-Girl’s dad, Big Daddy. A Batman like character who has a burning rage for criminals. The idea that he has raised Hit-Girl in the ways of death and destruction is kind of crazy. Yeah, he is a hero, but he has essentially sabotaged Hit-Girls chance at a normal life, at a childhood. This wasn’t a big problem for me because this is one big comic book fantasy, its not reality, plus I found it funny and shocking at the same time, so I went with it. Plus, the villains in this movie were real villains; they deserved to get their asses kicked by Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Cage plays Big Daddy like a time bomb that’s just about to explode at any given second. You know how Cage can get when he gets into whacko mode.
One thing that I thought was peculiar was the inclusion of music from two of Danny Boyle’s films: 28 Days Later and Sunshine. I love both of those soundtracks, but couldn’t understand why this film couldn’t get its own musical score. But the music did fit in perfectly with the scenes. Speaking of the films director, Mathew Vaughn made the film interesting with his stylistic direction. The film plays with that idea that since this is a comic book movie, the colors should be vibrant and jump of the screen. I think he achieved it. The film also has some awesome shots like the first person shooter sequence in night vision.
All in all, Kick Ass was rather refreshing actually. While it doesn’t bring us anything remarkably original or anything (its similarities with Spider Man are many) the violence and cussing and Hit Girl made the movie that much more entertaining. Its characters do stuff normal superheroes would never be caught dead doing, like killing. If you don’t mind cartoonish violence and profanity doesn’t phase you, then you should be okay.
Rating: 4 out of 5