Kick-Ass provides modern take on old school comic book movies
Comic books are the new go-to genre for Hollywood so anything that can tap into the fanboy market from the more traditional (Spider-Man, Batman Begins) to the less conventional (V for Vendetta [Blu-ray]) quickly gets turned into a feature film. Kick-Ass — based on Mark Millar’s explicitly raunchy and violent 2008 comic book series Kick-Ass – Volume 1 — is a successful blend of both comic worlds with brightly attired would-be do-gooders fighting criminals with a more realistic slant, resulting in a tremendously fresh experience.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) isn’t a particularly special high school student, but he’s puzzled why no one ever thought about becoming a superhero or — in lieu of getting cool powers that would let them lift a car, fly or shoot lasers from their eyes — just dress up in a costume and help their fellow man.
So with absolutely no training or fighting skills, Dave makes a costume and dubs himself Kick-Ass. The film’s tone — crafted by Director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goodman (The Debt) — is very tongue-in-cheek without coming across as insulting to the comic fanbase, who are invited in on the joke of the now the predictable comic book movie origin outing.
Kick-Ass’ first outing doesn’t go well, but he eventually gets the hang of vigilante crime-fighting. And better still, his bruises are somehow getting him attention from the girls at school, particularly his longtime crush, Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca, Hot Tub Time Machine [Blu-ray]).
Vaughn and Goodman wisely deviate from Millar’s story, which has shocks for the sake of shocks and is almost a sneering look at comic book heroes.
It isn’t long before Kick-Ass encounters actual competent heroes, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, Astro Boy) and his sidekick/daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who are in the midst of their own violent war with crime lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, Sherlock Holmes).
Cage can be the kiss of death to a movie, but this is the most engaging character he’s played in a while. In a bizarre/brilliant decision, he gives his heroic alter ego an Adam West Batman-style voice that unimaginably works perfectly here.
Moretz, so charming in (500) Days of Summer, steals the show as the foul-mouthed tyke who would much rather chuck butterfly knifes and ram swords through crooks than play with doll babies.
She makes a great contrast as the serious hero who thinks about stopping crime 24-7 while the more carefree Dave puts on his Kick-Ass garb whenever the thought comes to him. While the story is violent, it’s not comically violent.
The laughs aren’t limited to Dave’s well-meaning, but pathetic attempts at being a hero. Frank and his goons are pretty funny as is his son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad) who wants to become more involved in the family business and devises a scheme to become a superhero in order to deliver Kick-Ass to his father.
Vaughn captures the spirit of comic book movies perfectly with frantic, over-the-top action. The fighting scenes are clean and well choreographed and the more relaxed scenes are entertaining enough that you’re not just waiting for Dave to get back into his Kick-Ass costume.
Despite its nearly two-hour length, there seems like there’s so much more of the Kick-Ass world to explore and if it can be anywhere near as entertaining as this, I’d definitely be up for a sequel.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Buy Kick-Ass from Amazon.com here:Kick-Ass (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)