Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kick-Ass: 'Nuff Said, Am I Right?

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In honor of San Diego Comic Con going on this week, today and tomorrow will feature two comic book movie themed blogs! Rejoice, ye nerds, and bask in the glory of my nerd-reviews!

Are you basking?

First off, it's one of the most outrageous, violent, ridiculous, and most awesome comic book movies in a long time: Kick-Ass. Based on a series of comics by legendary creators Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita, Jr., Kick Ass is a tale of a young man who dreams of becoming a superhero. After minimal training, and in a home-made costume, Dave Lizewski is critically injured while attempting to stop a mugging. Stabbed and left for dead, he's taken to the hospital. When he recovers, he suffers from nerve damage. Still spurred by his near-insane need to help people and function as a superhero, he goes back on the streets. His actions attract the attention of the mob and other costumed vigilantes. How can a high-school kid with no superpowers stand up to the entire mob? Well, when he's got a gun-toting, knife-throwing 12-year old girl with him, he may have a chance.

Directed by relative newcomer Matthew Vaughan, Kick-Ass stars Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick Ass, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist/Chris D'Amico, Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready/Big Daddy, Marc Strong as Frank D'Amico, and Chloe Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit Girl. It's a pretty interesting cast of actors for a comic book movie, and surprisingly, Nicolas Cage is not only tolerable, he's actually pretty good. I'm not really familiar with Aaron Johnson, but I guess he plays a young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, which looks good, too. Chloe Moretz really steals the show, though; she's been in a few things, but she is absolutely malicious and terrifying here.

This film also features one of the better soundtracks out there. It features a few great songs by The Prodigy, and a few good updates of crazy songs for Hit Girl's scenes: Banana Splits by the Dickies, and Bad Reputation by the Hit Girls. I especially like the sort of theme song to the movie, Stand Up by the Prodigy. I normally don't get into film soundtracks, but this one was especially good.

I took my lady to this crazy movie, and surprisingly, she didn't hate it. Essentially, it's not the kind of movie she'd want to go see on her own, but she liked it once she got there. It was funny, interesting, unpredictable, and shockingly violent. A dude gets his leg cut off! Seriously, it's wicked.

It's a fairly standard action movie as far as direction goes; the costumes were amazing, though. Everything looked like it could have been made at home, with household crap, but it also had that slick, Dark Knight kind of look to it, as well. The characters were interesting, and Kick-Ass was a surprisingly ineffective hero, and didn't do a whole lot of ass-kicking. Hit-Girl was the actual bad-ass one, and her dad Big Daddy is crazy brutal. Imagine Batman with a moustache, a shotgun, and a huge grin, and that's almost as intense as Big Daddy was. Red Mist is fantastic, as well; it's basically McLovin' in a costume, driving a fancy car around. I don't want to give any spoilers, but Red Mist has his own reasons for becoming a superhero, and his own agenda.

In some ways, I think the film is moderately realistic. Hear me out, don't just laugh. It's essentially supposed to be our world; a world where people read comics, and there are no superheroes. Nobody turns into Batman; nobody has utility belts full of awesome gadgets. Kick Ass is a kid in a repurposed wet-suit and Doc Marten boots, with two lead pipes strapped to his back. Big Daddy is an ex-cop who trained his daughter to be a killing machine; they both use guns and knives and their crazy fists as weapons. Red Mist does nothing at all, really. They don't go around saving kittens from trees, but they don't battle intergalactic invasions, or giant robots, or supervillains. They fight muggers, gang-bangers. Dave fights High School; imagine that nerd who gets wedgies all the time started working out, threw on some tights, and beat up petty bad guys on weekends.

Overall, it's an extremely entertaining movie. It has little value other than that, but that's by no means a bad thing. It's wacky, insane, violent, full of actually decent action, great nerdy characters, great nerdy comic-book discussions, and things you didn't know you wanted to see until you saw it. For instance, I had no idea I wanted to watch Marc Strong punch a little girl square in the face until I saw it.

I give Vaughan's Kick-Ass three weird, creepy, and sort of amazing performances by Nicolas Cage as a gun-toting maniac ex-cop superhero out of five, or three incredibly amazing scenes featuring a tiny 12-year old in a superhero costume running around shooting, stabbing, maiming, killing, and generally messing up dozens of angry, hulking mobsters out of five.

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