Saturday, 27 March 2010

Of Kick-Ass

Long time no review. I haven't written a film review since the release of Jennifer's Body, but I'm glad my first review is for a movie as brilliant as this one. First off Kick-Ass is just a hell of a lot of fun. This isn't Oscar as I'm sure you'll realise from the purple haired girl saying the word "cunt" in the trailer. Kick-Ass is a new breed of superhero movies, it's completely irreverent and pays homage to so many comic book series which just makes it fun to watch.

On a very basic level, Kick-Ass shares some similarities with Watchmen, despite being tonally completely different. Both focus on a world in which there are no superheroes and real people, influenced by comic books decide to dress up and fight crime. However the first difference is that Watchmen takes place in a world in which superheroes have been around for decades and being one is now a criminal offence, Kick-Ass takes place at the very beginning with the obsession with superheroes. Plus the whole not actually taking itself very seriously idea.

If you've seen the trailers you know that this film is gory as hell, but what is seen very slightly in the trailers is just how well choreographed the fight scenes are. Seriously the fights are just a joy to behold, with bullets and knives flying everywhere.* Also whilst there is so much swearing and violence the movie still manages to fit in some adult themes and comments on the world at large (particularly the idea of social media). So we have swearing, violence, themes and of course due to some scenes set in high school, banter! And such glorious banter it is. Maybe it's the British writers, with a background in 90s gangster films, but the gangsters sparkle with wit, as well as the high school students which in some ways feels like an extension of what was found in Superbad (and not just because of McLovin).

It feels odd to say but Kick-Ass is maybe one of the most realistic superhero movies ever. Yes the final fight scene does take a lot of liberties but up until this point it feels like it could happen. Someone may very well eventually dress up as a superhero and try and fight crime (and it would probably end up in the same way that the Kick-Ass's own first attempt ends). It probably sounds stupid to say the movie feels realistic but it really does in a lot of key areas, but it's also a stupid amount of fun because of how over the top it is. It's a weird but awesome mix of "maybe this could happen, but it could never look as fucking awesome as we're making it look".

The main performances in the film are also uniformly great. Aaron Johnson plays Kick-Ass to perfection. He might not steal the show but he plays the everyman well and you root for him throughout, which is all that is needed. He's a geeky everyman character and you understand his motivations, even if they're not as melodramatic as say Peter Parker's. Mark Strong as the villain is superb, but if you've seen any film such as Sunshine or Sherlock Holmes then you know that Mark Strong can play a villain superbly. Chrisopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist is probably the weakest but still offers a great performance. It's clear he's trying to branch away from his role as McLovin which admirably but he doesn't get as much to chew on as the other actors, however by the final reels of the film it's clear they're setting his character up for bigger things in a potential sequel.

However far and away the scene stealers in Kick-Ass are Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz. Nicolas Cage puts in his best performances since Adaptation as the unhinged Big-Daddy. He swaps between this gleeful naivety when in civilian dress, but the moment he dresses up as a superhero he's a supreme bad-ass killing people left and right. The costume is clearly taking infulence from Batman, however you'll also notice that he's putting on a weird voice when dressed up, until it clicks he's impersonating Adam West. It's a surprise and just makes his performance that much more enjoyable. And then we have Hit-Girl. The one thing EVERYONE will be talking about when they leave the cinema. She swears and she's got no qualms with killing you. If you've seen the red band trailer you know what I mean. Chloe Moretz is a revelation and I can't wait to see what she goes on to do, but it's quite clear she's got a long career ahead of her.

Also a quick shout out to the Kick-Ass soundtrack, it fits the scenese perfectly and I now need to find the remix of the Sunshine theme that is used for one of the films action scenes. It's so epic and fits it perfectly.

Overall Kick-Ass is a hell of a lot of fun. Easily the best film that I've seen so far in 2010 and just a great thrill ride. It's not trying to be Oscar fodder, but it's just a great film. Everything from the acting, directing, editing and choreography come together to make a great whole. Sure it's over the top, incredibly violent and features an 11 year old girl saying the word "cunt" but when the movie around it this enjoyable, I couldn't give two shits because of how well it works. Apart from some green screen issues during the final scenes, the film is a near perfect comic book adaptation. It not be as brilliant as The Dark Knight, but it doesn't try to be. Kick-Ass is fun, irreverent and chock a block with geeky reference. The benchmark for 2010 comic book movies has been set high, so we'll see if Iron-Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim can live up to it.


*of note, same choreographers are working on Scott Pilgrim, just makes me more excited for it!

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