Kick-Ass may have clearly shown once again what’s the big difference between regular audiences and film critics. The former just wants to be entertained, have fun and bring home a bucketful of cool memories from the cinema. The latter dissects that spontaneous experience, rolls it over with a two-ton truck, scoops out the shitty remains, and rates it with stars.
Forget Roger Ebert and what you may have heard about Kick-Ass’ “morally reprehensible” nature. The thing is, you’re missing the cinematic experience of your life if you let someone’s ethics and poor stomach for special-effects gore (which there isn’t that much anyway) stop you from watching Kick-Ass.
Read this review, then go out there and witness what I deem to be the best superhero film EVER.
Kick-Ass is Marvel like Iron Man.
Marketing for Kick-Ass to drive home the message that the movie is filled with awesomeness and violence — like your good ol’ classic, Kill Bill — has been largely unsuccessful. I, for one, initially thought that it was just another one of those films where cute kids make a punching bag out of the groins of stupid bald and tattooed bad guys.
Kick-Ass the movie is actually an adaptation of a comicbook series with the same title written by Mark Millar and drawn by John Romita, Jr. It is published by no less than Marvel Comics under its Icon imprint. While I haven’t read the comicbook, I’ve learned that it is violent, like the film. Let me defend this “violent” nature later on.
But first a quick point to make. Kick-Ass is a creator-owned comicbook, which means that Millar and Romita Jr. retained full ownership of ther material even if Marvel published it. Even so, had Kick-Ass been marketed the same way as other Marvel films have been (Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk), I’m sure it wouldn’t have been such an underdog to a kiddy movie like How to Train Your Dragon. The potential for this film being a pop culture phenomenon is so huge, probably Marvel itself decided to bet against it since they’ll be releasing Iron Man 2 soon. They don’t want their main guy overshadowed by a bunch of no-name superheroes in silly costumes. It’s also possible that Marvel didn’t get anything from this film because their logo wasn’t in the opening credits.
But the brilliance of this film is so much that I proudly admit it is The BEST Superhero Film of All-Time in my book. Better than Spiderman 2. Better than Iron Man. Better even than The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger’s Oscar.
What’s Kick-Ass All About?
Here’s Kick-Ass the film’s gist without spoiling it too much.
The film’s story loosely follows its comicbook counterpart. The story centers on Dave Lizewski, a typical high school student who’s your typical nerdy alter-ego, though not as nerdy as Peter Parker. Dave gets tired of the boring ordinariness of life and tries to become a real superhero, particularly after noticing people’s tendency to just watch while others fall victim to wrongdoers and criminals.
He orders a costume online, dons it, trains a bit, then goes out to the streets, looking like a complete douchebag. Eventually, he runs into a real physical combat while trying to save a guy getting beat up. Since he has no superpowers or any exceptional fighting abilities at all (his only weapon is a pair of batons) he gets ass-kicked himself, but through sheer display of heroism, his attackers fall back. Witnesses to his fight uploaded videos on YouTube, which eventually made him famous — to the point where comicbook shops started selling Kick-Ass merchandise.
Without his knowing, he becomes an inspiration to a father-daughter vigilante team (Big Daddy and Hit Girl) who’s hell-bent on bringing down a mafia group. The vigilantes team up with Kick-Ass whose lack of any special abilities shines even more compared to the real fighting abilities of the vigilantes. But while epically sucking at his job at being a superhero, Kick-Ass manages to bring justice to his suit and, well, you know, save the day in the end.
Why the Film is SOOOOOOOOO Awesome
There’s only a single cinema showing Kick-Ass in the mall where I watched it with my girlfriend and there were a lot of empty seats. But throughout the entire film, every single one of the audience laughed, cheered and let out sharp sounds of amusement and surprise. In the end, they all applauded shouting “Part 2!”
Kick-Ass is just memorable for all its hilarious moments, action-packed scenes, refreshing characters, and electric music. The nearest thing to Kick-Ass I can think of is Kill-Bill Volume 1, but that’s just because of the violence. The story is simple and sweet, like Spiderman 1 but the realism of it is oddly similar to The Dark Knight.
What? Kick-Ass is “oddly similar” to The Dark Knight? Are you f*cking kidding me?
Well, as a matter of fact, no, I’m not.
Despite the hilarious comedic characters of this film, the director, Matthew Vaughn (producer: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, director: Layer Cake, Stardust) manages to highlight the realism and seriousness of the topic being discussed: What happens if one really decides to become a superhero? Vaughn didn’t use any cheesy language and epic explosions and character exposition to show this. He just plainly showed the audience what anyone else can figure out: you’ll be laughed at because you’ll look hopelessly ridiculous in a wetsuit, and pretty soon, you’ll get a knife slicing your sorry guts, spilling bright red blood on the ground. The Dark Knight also tried to delve into this notion of “real superheroes,” as well as Watchmen, but to me, the clear winner is Kick-Ass and the great thing about it is that it didn’t even adopt a depressing and cynical stance in its treatment.
What the Heck is “Morally Reprehensible?”
It’s really sad that a great film like Kick-Ass got some early bad press, especially since most of the reaction I’ve read and heard from people who’ve watched the film is positively ecstatic. First of all, let me point out that the film is rated R for something. If it’s rated R, then a sane parent wouldn’t bring his Spidey-lovin’ kiddies inside the theater. That’s what these censoring boards expect of you. You go bringing your kids in there, then you’re the nutcase, not the filmmakers.
Now don’t get too easily convinced by Ebert’s review even though he might be your favorite film critic. Kick-Ass is nowhere as violent as your regular Saw movie and you just can’t say it in the same sentence with American Pie. The real issue for many is the character Hit Girl played by Chloe Grace Moretz, that adorable intelligent little girl in 500 Days of Summer.
Moretz is 13 years old. She voices Darby on My Friends Tigger & Pooh. But on Kick-Ass, she gets to say the words “fuck,” “cunt” and “cock” as well as slay more than 20 guys brutally with guns and knives, sending their bloody limbs rolling on the floor. This is the real violence people are talking about. But looking at this more closely, it’s easy to see that there will be no question here if it was Uma Thurma doing this again or probably someone younger like Vanessa Hudgens. It’s just because Ms. Moretz is still a “little princess” that a few people are balking at the ethics of the film.
Which is absolute b*llshit. In the first place, no other kid beyond the recommended age should be watching this film. Moretz is the only one who has to bear the moral whining of people for agreeing to accept the role. And here’s what the smart girl has to say about it (she loves the film by the way):
Q: You’re going to get asked a lot about a girl your age playing a role with so much violence and profanity. What’s your response to those who criticize you?
A: It’s a movie. It’s not real life and it’s not supposed to be taken as real life. You sit down in a theater and you watch the movie. Any time I said anything it was in the script, it was part of the character. That’s why I did it.
Q: So you didn’t ad-lib the profanity.
A: (Laughs.) No, definitely not. No ad-lib for me. My mom would totally ground me for the rest of my life. (From the official website of Chloe Moretz. Click here.)
The second reason why this moral accusation is laughable is that it’s assuming that 13-year-olds today haven’t heard profanity before. What the heck are these moralistic junkies smoking? I’m sure if they run a survey now, children younger than Ms. Moretz have heard all these words and more. So does watching Kick-Ass make society more morally reprehensible? Is it so bad that it should be listed in the most taboo films ever and sent to the Vatican for burning? It’s totally unfair when so much more violent, crappy, gore-for-money films have been shown on theaters with people watching them, even their bloody sequels.
The accusation is even shallower and nonsense when we mention the obvious fact that Kick-Ass is clearly not meant to be taken seriously. It’s just a package of fun entertainment so you can munch on your popcorn happily or get kinky with your girlfriend. People who are over-analyzing the film and saying that certain characters have to be punished for their decisions are totally cuckoo. This is not Hurt Locker. This is Kick-Ass — a comedy / action superhero film. Stop being a dark, brooding moralist and just enjoy the movie for Christ’s sakes.
The bottom line: Kick-Ass Kicks Serious Ass and is Most Probably Better than the coming Iron Man 2. I give it five out five stars.
Kick-Ass stars: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong.