BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 20, 2010
Where else can you go to see an average teenage boy dressed in a superhero wetsuit, Nicolas Cage as an Adam West-like Batman, and an eleven-year-old girl gutting villains and screaming profanities? “Kick-Ass” is not your regular comic book superhero film. “How come nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero?” is the basis of the entire film. The originality and morality of “Kick-Ass” are what distinguishes the film from any films in the genre. Add unique production value and excellent performances throughout, and “Kick-Ass” becomes a rare cinematic venture.
Based on a graphic novel series, Aaron Johnson takes the reigns as the mock superhero, Dave Lizewski, bent on saving the world one missing Mr. Bitey at a time. As Dave, high school girls laugh at him and thugs steal his belongings. But as Kick-Ass, Dave gains more recognition and the attention of the woman he loves. Without powers, Kick-Ass is just a kid in the wetsuit trying to make a difference but becomes the target constant beat downs. Dave’s heart is in the right place and after a car accident, he gains his only advantage against his enemies, dead nerves impervious to pain.
Every superhero needs a villain. And the villains in this story are the D’Amico family, the mob personified, played by Mark Strong and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Mark Strong plays the head of the mob, furious when his men and money start to go missing due to a masked avenger. Convinced that it is Kick-Ass, Strong puts out the hit. In an attempt to earn his father’s love, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, playing Strong’s bright-eyed son, contrives a plan to catch the true superhero. Creating his superhero, Red Mist, Mintz-Plasse lures Kick-Ass in and cons him into revealing the rest of the superheroes.
The graphic nature of the film comes mainly from the two side characters (who should have been main characters) in the Macready family, Mindy (Chloe Moretz) and Damon (Nicolas Cage). Mindy is not your average 11-year-old. After being raised to kill and bent on the destruction of the D’Amico family, when Mindy becomes Hit-Girl, the gloves come off (or on…sorry, superhero joke) and carnage ensues. The fight sequences appear to pop right from the pages of the graphic novel, radiating what it would feel like to watch a graphic novel come to life, with bright colors and constant camera movement. Even allowing the frame to jump or blast forward during strikes or blows, which substitutes well for the “Whack” or “Smash” used in the comics.
Several key scenes burn into your mind after viewing the film, including the introduction to Mindy and Damon in the empty parking lot, where Damon is a yard away from Mindy, aiming a gun at her with a smile on his face (“Oh child”). Also, the scene where Kick-Ass saves the man involved in a beat down outside a restaurant where cheering teenagers record the event on their phone encapsulates the rough and tough aspect of the film.
Lastly, the warehouse scene where Big Daddy and Kick-Ass are held captive, allowing Mindy/Hit-Girl to arrive and but down a beating involving night-vision goggles and a flickering strobe light attached to a gun. All of these are just a few of the moments that leave a lasting impression and allow for multiple viewings of the film, just to see them again.
“Kick-Ass” is one of the best adaptations of a graphic novel to date. The heroes are extraordinary while the villains are perfectly evil. Nicolas Cage shows a side of himself rarely seen while Mark Strong plays to his attributes as the villain for the third time this year (“Sherlock Holmes” and “Robin Hood”). “Kick-Ass” is not just a beat ‘em up action flick. The film supplies a deeper meaning and wears its heart on its sleeve. One would be pressed to truly find a deep flaw in the film as a whole. The suspense of the film works effectively and you feel for the characters at there darkest moments. The story derives true emotion, which is what filmmakers truly aim for: making their audience feel real emotion. Though the ending does leave space for a sequel, “Kick-Ass” is a film that can stand completely alone.
April 16, 2010
by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.
(for strong, brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and drug use — occasionally involving children)
Marius de Vries
Chloë Grace Moretz