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Posted by Cantankerous Panda on May 7, 2010

KICK-ASS (2010)

I’m writing this one piecemeal, so please bear with me if it’s a little disjointed–I’ve been working at a conference and I’m exhausted.

Kick-Ass explores similar territory as the film Mystery Men– there are “normal” people who dress up as superheroes to fight the criminals of the world (or the city in which they live); however, Mystery Men gave the indication that the heroes had some “lesser” superpowers, whereas Kick-Ass does not include the superpower aspect. Rather, it’s literally just people who want to throw on costumes and rid the world (or city) of “evildoers”. It’s a concept that the main character ponders about in the beginning of the film, posing the question, “Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?” The thing is, I’ve read about people who have actually donned costumes and tried to “fight crime”, mostly within the boundaries of the law. So it’s not an entirely new concept, at least for me. However, the idea is a fun one, which is why I decided to see this particular film.Our hero, Dave Lizewski, calls himself Kick-Ass, and he’s played by Aaron Johnson (a 19 year-old who just knocked up a 4o-something director, by the way). Dave is a “dorky” teenager who has a couple of really dorky friends, played by Clark Duke and Evan Peters, and they apparently live in an area of NYC (I think) where they constantly get mugged. Dave is sick of this, so he goes online and finds what I can only assume is a “create your own superhero onesie” site, and makes his ridiculous yellow and green mansuit.

It's like a bondage outfit gone terribly, hilariously wrong.

He proceeds, of course, to get his ass kicked on the first go, but gets a little better at this whole “fighting crime” thing when the first failed incident leaves him with the helpful ability to no longer feel pain (a condition that is far more serious than the film lets on, mind you). Along his path of fighting the good fight, he comes across Big Daddy and his daughter, Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz, respectively) as well as a new hero in town who is stealing Kick-Ass’s headlines, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad and Role Models).

Does anyone look at Mintz-Plasse and NOT think "total superhero"?

Things get kinda complicated and messy, and I didn’t like the more obvious scenario as it played out with the main baddie, Frank D’Amico (played by Mark Strong from Sherlock Holmes). By the way, Mark Strong plays an excellent badass, as we’ve now seen in both Sherlock Holmes and this film… and he still looks like Andy Garcia. Anyway, for the most part, I wasn’t bothered by the clear trajectory of the film. I will say that the actual plot was drastically different from what I had expected. I thought there would be a lot more general ass-kicking and less hardcore violence, which was a pleasant surprise. But I also thought the main character would play a bigger role in the battle against the baddies throughout the film. A lot of it focused on his life as a teenager in various ways, and all of his insecurities. I get the relevance, but I think those parts went on far too long and got fairly tiresome as the movie progressed. It did not need to be a 2-hour film.

"OK, stand over there and just.. look awkward! SHOW ME AWKWARD TEEN! Annnd CUT!"

What really made this film as enjoyable as it was came down to only a few key factors: Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, and the violence. Nicolas Cage was given a license to be crazy in this film, and boy did he deliver. His bizarre cadence, hilarious moustache (which, by the way, he often stroked in the film), and the way he spoke to his daughter… he was just a delight. I think this is my favourite performance from him, other than his brief appearance in the faux trailer from Rob Zombie in Grindhouse, called Werewolf Women of the SS (Nic Cage as Fu Manchu: “THIS….IS MY MECCAAAAAAAAA! AHAHAHAHAHA!”).


Seriously, even though it’s not being promoted as a Nicolas Cage film, he steals the show. And the only person who is able to keep up the pace with him, really, is Chloe Moretz, who plays his daughter, Mindy/Hit-Girl. She’s 11 years old but she can clearly take care of herself. She is especially fond of knives…

Worst Girl Scout ever? Or BEST?

The big controversy about Hit-Girl, though, is that she has a filthier mouth than I do (and for those of you who actually know me, you know that I often curse like a sailor). This little girl says some “big girl” things, and throws in what is being described as “the C-word” at one point (which made me laugh out loud, by the way).

The face of innocence.

That and apparently some people feel she was “sexualized” in the scene that is pictured above, simply because of the school-girl get-up. I don’t really see it, honestly, especially because the people who let her into the building were clearly talking to her like a little girl who couldn’t find her parents, and not like a little girl in need of a “spanking”.

If anyone is being sexualized, it's clearly the man with the long barrel in his mouth.

And then there’s the violence. When I first saw the REAL violence of the film, courtesy of the ridiculous arsenal that Big Daddy and Hit-Girl have acquired over the years, I was amazed. I didn’t know that this was that kind of movie. It was a pleasant surprise, though–the splatterific gorefest was definitely fun and not at all unwelcome. It never got old, either, especially with Hit-Girl. I mean, how could watching an 11 year-old kick the shit out of grown men ever get old?

So much joy in this image.

Oh, did I mention that part of Nicolas Cage’s ‘disguise’ was adding adhesive extensions onto his moustache to create a horseshoe-stach?

Nicolas Cage came up with this disguise element himself. No joke. And he is even more awesome for it.

I need to mention that this was clearly based off a comic book that was made by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. but was written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (who is also the director of the film). I have never read the comic book, but I think that the scrip was a bit long and kinda weird at times, while the direction was pretty tight for this kind of film. I really did like the shot of Hit-Girl with the gun in the thug’s mouth that I used above, among other sequences. I think that Vaughn handled the action well, and I enjoyed the pace of those sequences. The overall pace of the film was a little awkward, though, which was another downfall of the film.

Do I recommend this movie? Yes, but be forewarned that the violence is graphic and there’s a little girl who uses a lot of naughty language. And I do mean a lot. There are some low points in the film: the main character got on my nerves after awhile, Christopher Mentz-Plasse’s character was kinda lame in his lack of substance (even though there was a reason for it), and the girlfriend (Lyndsy Fonseca) subplot, while at times comical, dragged on too long (and it was a bit ridiculous with the stereotyping). However, as I said above, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz and the amazingly satisfying violence make this romp of a film a worthwhile watch. Just don’t expect to be totally blown away by it… I certainly wasn’t.


6 Responses to “Kick-Ass”

  1. Bryan said

    Nic’s “Batman voice” stole the show. I could barely focus on the movie every time he opened his mouth in costume because I was laughing so hard.

    Agree on all counts. It was a little too long and some of the subplots were boring, but the filthy-mouthed little girl, the absurd arsenal, and the ridiculous amount of gore made the movie entertaining all the way through.

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      Haha, apparently his Batman voice was a riff off the Adam West version of Batman. It seems that the director of this film heard Nic doing that voice while suiting up the first day, told him to run with it, and he also spoke disparagingly about the Christian Bale “Batman growl”. I think Nic’s voice is a million times better than Bale’s :P. And I loved the moustache stroking SO much.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Kevin said

    Must… Watch… Film… Can’t… Get… To… Theater… 😦

    ~K… e… v… i… n…

  3. richardsblah said

    I saw it today and I loved it! I agree that Nic Cage stole the show, but I also think Chloe Moretz stole it back from him a few times. She had all the best lines, by far. I can just imagine all those conservative jaws dropping to the floor when she speaks. 😀

    The action scenes were also excellent, and some of them just hilarious. Where else could you see an 11-year-old girl wiping out an entire floor of Mafia hoods? 😛

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      Yes, she was the only one who could keep up with Nic Cage :P. I totally agree. Her lines we awesometastic, but they were lifted from the original comic books (I believe) which kinda makes me less wowed by them (not to say that including them was not gutsy, but it’s not like they amped up her character to push boundaries, if I understand all this correctly). I do love her lines ever so much, and I’m glad she was not subjected the the typical censorship we see in films these days. Long live the filthy-mouthed child!

      I totally loved the action sequences, as well. They were so much fun, especially when Hit-Girl was wiping out a gang of badasses. So much fun!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the film! As I said, I wasn’t THRILLED by it, but I definitely did enjoy it :P. I’m happy you did, as well. 😀

      Thanks for you feedback, as always!!

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