Friday, May 7, 2010
I came, I saw, I came again, and a pint-sized school-girl with a silencer kicked my optical ass! Every scene of director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Mark Millar's comic was so fucking vibrant; the soundtrack, the colors, the costumes, the Cage, the c-bombs getting dropped by 12 year-olds. It's evident from frame-to-frame that everyone involved in the making of this film had a blast while doing so.
Kick-Ass embraces every mainstream taboo (teen sex, drug use, pro-pro-pro-violence, comic books, sailor-mouthed pre-teens) with loving arms, portrays them as humanly and humorously as possible, and then pours gasoline on them, cuts off one of their legs with a machete, calls them a cunt, and runs to grab a bazooka. This film was a high-water mark for all directors and writers, especially comic-book writers, who ever wanted to create a story into film for the masses, as raunchy and shameless as they want it, unhindered and un-impinged upon by the all-knowing deus ex machina that is the Hollywood studio exec. The Scotsman Millar had the privilege of seeing his brainchild fully realized into lovely, live-action glory, without the editing, censoring, or otherwise butchering of some platoon of big studio schmuck-o's and executive writer wannabes who think they know what their audience wants (which sadly, apparently they do, as the film is doing less than spectacular at the box office).
Here's a little 'nopis: New York teen, Dave Lizewski, wonders aloud to his friends why there are no super-heroes in the world, or at least why nobody even tries to be a super-hero. His buddies call him a dumb-ass and explain why this idea is obviously ludicrous, their skeptic isms perfectly illustrated by an Armenian kid with head-problems and home-made wings who plummets to his death from a sky-scraper. This of course spurs Dave to buy some ridiculous green and yellow spandex online, pick up a pair of sticks and head out into the most dangerous city on the planet to fight crime, adopting the moniker Kick-Ass; aptly-named as his first foray leads to his own ass-kicking. Actually, every fight Dave gets involved in leads to his ass getting kicked. But he eventually hooks up with the father-daughter, dynamic duo of Big Daddy (Nic Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), and the movie immediately takes a sharp turn towards awesomeness. Chloe and Cage absolutely MAKE this movie! Team-ups, hilarity and ass-kicking ensues as a stellar comic-book literally comes to life.
The players: Aaron Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, and he does a stand-up job as a ferd playing a nerd (ferd, or fake nerd, is a made-up word from Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost; ferds are coming out of the woodwork now that comic-books and their movie adaptations are making trillions of dollars; all of a sudden every one's a Batman or Iron Man fan). I seriously doubt that baby-faced Aaron ever spent any amount of time hangin' with his buds at the comic-book shop, lamenting over coffees and issues of Captain America about their lack of pussy. In real life, the British-born Johnson is known for playing a young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy; he's in his early twenties and already married with children. But give him a pair of glasses, and he does an admirable job making us believe he's a dorky comic dweeb in NYC.
Mark Strong, aka Lord Blackwood from Sherlock Holmes, is New York crime-boss Frank D'Amico. Wonderful actor, but I would have loved to see an Italian-American or at least a New Yorker in this dialogue-heavy role. Can't wait to see him as Sinistro in Green Lantern.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aka McLovin, plays D'Amico's spoiled, sheltered son Chris, who becomes inspired by Kick-Ass, and takes up the mantle of Red Mist....'nuff said.
Nicholas Cage reaffirmed my love for his sickly style of acting with his adaptation of the Batman-esque, Big Daddy. That love usually lasts about eight or nine shitty films (Knowing, Ghost Rider, The Wicker Man), which is about how many he makes between tiny masterpieces like this and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, which we were lucky enough to get in the same year.
But seriously folks, this movie belongs to little Chloe Moretz and her character, Mindy Macready. Cunts can call her Hit Girl. Every scene involving Hit Girl - starting with her being shot in the chest by Big Daddy, to her Kill Bill in ten-minutes finale - is an absolute joy to behold. And I don't care if that's a little creepy. This Moretz girl has quite a career ahead of her, starting with the Americanization of Let The Right One In (thanks for that nugget, Ain'tItStu), the Swedish vampire instant classic.
The only character I had any sort of problem with was Lizewski's girlfriend, Katie. She's introduced as this untouchable, popular future tri-delt girl at Dave's high-school, who one day out of the blue asks him if he wants to meet for coffee at the hip, new comic-store. He soon realizes this has only happened because she thinks he's gay, and has always wanted a best-bud homeboy to go shopping and get pedi's with. Then he finds out sweet, innocent, cotton-candy Katie has a sordid past involving a pimp named Tre. What?! In a film full of unbelievable shit, Katie's story took the cake.
The soundtrack, while not the most ass-kickingest list of songs put together, works perfectly for Kick-Ass. There's some brilliantly used pop-punk tracks by The Dickies and The Hit Girls, fitting for the high-octane Hit Girl scenes. The original score played during Big Daddy's solo fight scene is pretty fucking raw. Vaughn even slipped in an homage to western soundtracks with Ennio Morricone's Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu (For a Few Dollars More). On the flip-side, there's two tracks by The Prodigy (remember Firestarter?), and they haven't gotten any better. More poppy if you can believe it.
I'm not going to say Kick-Ass is flawless. There are a few lulls in the script; one of the few downsides to staying absolutely true to the source material, you lose the polishing most treatments get once adapted. But for those of us who like pictures in our books, and who see comics as true storyboards, this film was a wet-dream come true. The highs more than make up for the very finite lows. Kick-Ass personifies the desire of every comic-book fan who's ever dreamed of enacting the feats of derring-do they've only witnessed at their finger-tips in the funny-books. And it just happens to have a lot of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. And c-bombs. See this fucking film.
5 out of 5