Review: Kick-Ass

A fun, bloody satire of super-hero movies that suffers due to the lack of an interesting main character and the overwhelming coolness (and over shadowing) of a supporting one.

Matthew Vaughn brings Mark Millar’s comic book to the screen almost word for word, shot for shot which is usually a good thing. Usually. Though there is a lot of fun ultraviolence, the movie lacks any discernable “heart” to really connect with an audience.

A comic book/high school geek (Aaron Johnson) wonders why no one has ever tried to be a super hero…so decides to take up the challenge as “Kick-Ass,” a scuba-gear wearing, ineffectual yet semi-confident hero. The rules of real life get in the way for good/bad effect – i.e. bad guys who hit back with knives and the viral popularity of YouTube. Through the help of a real father/daughter vigilante team, Big Daddy and Hit-girl (Nicolas Cage & Chloe Moretz), Kick-Ass takes on the mob with spectacularly violent results.

I’m a comic book geek so I really, really, really wanted to like this. Really. A lot. The Kick-Ass comic book is violent, potty-mouthed, extreme and yes…awesome. It’s over the top and in your face (the good kind of clichés.) The Kick-Ass movie really came close but its main actor and slow middle got in the way.

The acting was pretty great. Martin Strong as the mob boss (is there a movie he’s not a bad guy in?) was his usual fun self. His criminal/Red Mist superhero wannabe son played by Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse was the same dorky character he always is but with a darker tone. Even the comic geek buddies – Clark Duke (you just saw him in Hot Tub Time Machine) and Evan Peters were pitch perfect. The problem lies with the characters Kick-Ass, Big Daddy and Hit-girl.

In the case of Kick-Ass, he just wasn’t dorky enough. The guy is ripped and he has a love interest.  Excuse me? He’s a geek because his voice cracks and he read comics. Sorry, not enough for me. And because of that, I didn’t care about him. He wasn’t pathetic enough. I can understand he’d get his asskicked but really, I didn’t care or feel his pain.

On the other hand, Big Daddy and Hit-girl WERE AWESOME! I want to see their movie! I usually name Nic Cage as a movie killer but here he’s fantastic, channeling Adam West with a golly-gee-whillickers attitude and a sociopathic love of the maiming. Chloe Moretz’s Hit-girl steals the whole movie. The girl is a Bruce Lee pinball, with some kick-ass moves of her own and a passion for knives and firearms.

Overall, the movie started strong but got lost in the middle with pseudo-gay situations with a girl that didn’t need to be part of the storyline and a time with the mobsters that we really didn’t care about.

KICK-ASS Rating:
2 stars – it’s a renter. A welcome addition to the super-hero genre and a solid renter but a lack of focus on the main story and a “not pathetic enough” lead character makes me shy away from rating it higher. Give me a movie about Hit-girl and we can talk.

Coming Attractions:
Paper Man (release date: April 23, 2010) – Sticking with the super-hero theme but not really. This screams INDEPENDENT MOVIE! but that’s not such a bad thing. Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Lisa Kudrow and Ryan Reynolds. Stories of reconnecting with people, told well, are always welcome.

Random Recommendations
Stardust (2007) – Matthew Vaughn directed this fun fantasy with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes. An Englishman makes friends with a star (Danes), the “in the heavens” kind, while fighting pirates and evil witches. If I could add ninjas I would but it’s already pretty great.

Red Rock West (1993) – Film noir is seedy. It’s twisted. It’s full of lies and deceit. Double-crosses and gunplay. Evil women and hard-up men. This is one of those movies. Nic Cage (when he could act), Laura Flynn Boyle and Dennis Hopper.

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