Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kick Ass Really Kicks A Lot of Ass!

I have heard about the controversy surrounding this film at least a few months prior to its release. What was really interesting to me was the complaints were not really about the gratuitous violence in the film nor how morally reprehensible the film is at times. It was none of those things that people were complaining about. What really upset people was the character Hit Girl (who happens to be an 11 year old girl who puts the bad guys in their place) played by Chloe Grace Moretz and how she would say things like "Okay you cunts... Let's see what you can do now!"

Here is one thing I would like to point out before I dispense my review. First of all, I have said worse things than Hit Girl at a much younger age and the fact that people would complain about an 11 year old girl cursing like a sailor rather than something more legitimate like the gory violence in the film or about even proposing the idea of vigilantism and even encouraging it at times says a lot about American Cinematic Culture. I am not bashing Americans, but I am bashing the fact that our culture has such an issue with children using foul language when our society does not have an issue with violence and gore. I do not oppose the use of violence and gore in films, but I think our culture needs to rearrange our priorities a little bit don't you think?

Anyway, enough of my ranting, here is my review.

The film Kick-Ass is based off of the Graphic Novel of the same name. The story starts off with Dave Lizewski played by British actor Aaron Johnson. Dave is in all respects a dork, but he's a lovable dork because he waxes philosophical on life and the situations around him. The poor guy is also very unlucky because he is incredibly awkward around girls, he's not even the funny one among his group of friends and he and his friends always get mugged on a daily basis. This really sounds like John I. Leonard High School to me. Anyway, after getting mugged for the last time, Dave decides to do something about it and becomes Kick-Ass. Of course things go horribly awry when he attacks the same muggers and gets his ass kicked and lands himself in the hospital. Of course it was the first ass kicking that he received when he becomes more empowered to help people.

So Kick-Ass decides to try and help people regardless of the danger. While he was trying to get a kitten off a sign, Kick-Ass notices that someone was getting beat up and decides to help the victim out. While he's in the process of saving someone, he tells a teenager to call the cops, but the teenager tells the people inside the cafe that a costumed hero was beating the crap out of criminals and then the people proceed to take out their cell phones and record the whole incident, rather than calling the cops. After Kick-Ass becomes an internet sensation, he is quickly mistaken for another superhero team that has been terrorizing the Mafia. That superhero team happens to be Hit Girl/Mindy MacCreedy (Chole Grace Moretz) and her dad Big Daddy/Damon MacCreddy (Nicholas Cage). Of course these two are the real deal seeing as how they have trained well and have an armory in their own home, but still maintain a close father/daughter relationship. Another superhero thrown into the fray is none other than Red Mist who happens to be the mafia crime boss Frank D'Amico's son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is also a comic book nerd like Dave.

One of the more interesting things and pleasing things that I noted about this film was that this film was not afraid to embrace its inner nerd as well as unleash its inner bad ass. Meaning that this film was careful to include the geek culture and the mainstream culture and the execution was very well done. The film is colorful and vibrant, something that you do not except from the New York setting that the comic and this film takes place. In fact this film makes a reference to some of our most cherished and favorite superheroes and lets face it, Dave is the type of person that the audience can relate to, more humble and lovable than that smug bastard Peter Parker any day of the week. In addition to including the geek audience, this film has plenty of action and comedy to satisfy everyone else without alienating them in any way.

There were a few other things that I noticed about the film overall as well. The idea of vigilantism is highly discussed about and even encouraged and supported at times during the film. I understand why people support vigilantes in real life and I understand that our justice system is a piece of shit too, but vigilantism is a lot more trouble than its worth, but I am not above to admitting to wishing I could some bastard's ass because they hurt someone else. Another thing that caught my eye was the use of the internet in this film. Kick-Ass may very well be one of the first comic book films in which the main hero becomes famous thanks to You Tube and the internet. This says a lot about our generation. I am going to examine the scene in which Kick-Ass is helping a stranger because he was being brutally beaten by a couple of thugs. The people in the cafe were recording the action as it happened and the clip ended up on the internet and on the news the very next day, making Kick-Ass a star and a hero. This scene and the use of the media in the film really struck a cord with me seeing as how we live in a era in which people can become famous overnight thanks to the availability of cell phones, the internet, You Tube and our own stupidity for the most part. Kick-Ass is no exception to this interesting dichotomy in which a superhero must maintain their identity a secret yet answers people's requests via myspace.

Overall the pacing of the film is fast and frenetic in the appropriate times (and as it should be because a film this action packed and quick witted is not meant to be slow). The action scenes are fun and enjoyable and at times even cringe inducing. Nicholas Cage is at his best here in this film and this is the best performance I have seen from him in the last 5 years or so. Nicholas Cage in this film is doing what he does best and that is playing really odd but lovable and sometimes evil characters. The real stand out of the film is Chole Grace Moretz as Hit Girl. Moretz nails Hit Girl perfectly and then some. She gives Hit Girl more life and spirit and much more tenderness and innocence in the film than in the comics and the father/daughter chemistry between her and Cage is a pleasure to behold even when they are killing drug thugs in a apartment.

Overall, Kick-Ass is a morally reprehensible, extremely violent and extremely gory film, but it is also incredibly funny, sometimes touching and poignant, exciting, vibrant and colorful. Go see this film before you make any objections to not seeing it because an 11 year old girl uses profanity, see it for what it is and then make the judgement call about what is really offensive about the film that needs to be addressed and what is not. If it were me, I would be more concerned about the role of the media in this film and how our culture has become obsessed with the idea of being famous rather than being good at something that would benefit society as a whole, but then again I'm not an 11 year old girl that curses like a sailor and kills people with speed and grace am I?

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