Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kick-Ass(2010):With no power comes no responsibility


Imdb Rating 8.1/10

Imdb Review by V.I.D.I.O.T. from Boston, MA

Last night my combined love of films and comic books finally paid dividends, as I was invited (along with every other comic manager in the Boston area) to attend a press screening of Marv films' "Kick-Ass" (based on Mark Millar & John Romita Jr's Marvel Comics series of the same name), which opens in theaters April 16th. A bold move on the part of Marv, considering they were risking a month of "WERST MOVIE EVERRR!" badmouthing across the entire state. I assure you that will not be a problem.

So first off, should you see this? Definitely. As I told everyone when "Watchmen" was out, if you are a fan of comic books, just go see the movie - if only to add yourself to the communal experience, to join the debate. Everyone's going to be talking about it anyway, don't get left behind. And in this case, I think it will be more universally enjoyed than "Watchmen". Not that it is a "better" film, just a lot more entertaining - it tries for far less, succeeds at what it attempts, and therefore hasn't left itself open to as much scrutiny. Bottom line, this is just a fun romp with clever bits and reassuringly satisfying plot points, that had a bunch of jaded comic geeks roaring with laughter and delight, rooting for the good guys, culminating with applause at the end. Granted, we were seeing it for free, and had nothing invested besides a night we could have otherwise been sitting at home playing Arkham Asylum. But even if discussion later turned to this-or-that subtle difference from the comic, I don't think many were picking apart plot holes or questionable directorial decisions.

Overall, the impression I was left with was that it was a kind of hybrid descendant of "Spider-Man" and "Kill Bill". It has its mundane real-world-kid-deals-with-real-life-situations side, as Peter-Parkerish "nobody" Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) dreams of something more than his boring humdrum teen life. Eventually, like most kids his age, he decides to make an impact on the world by... well, y'know, donning a super-suit and heading out to thwart evil-doers. Just as we're getting used to the idea that of course this won't work and that he'll get his ass kicked every time, he starts learning how to improve his chances, and also that he's not alone in his quest.

Which then brings us to the film's outrageous, over-the-top side, best exemplified by everyone's newest favorite comic book character, "Hit-Girl". Her operatic, homicidal spaghetti-western character is delivered with so much infectious glee that you could feel the entire theater perk up whenever she appeared. The fact that she is played by Chloe Moretz, an actress no older than the "Planetary" comic series, only adds to the overall delightfully ludicrous nature of her character. I'm sure there will be the inevitable stink raised by parental or religious groups, not so much at the well-deserved "R" rating, but at this particular character, a pre-teen Beatrix Kiddo and GoGo Yubari rolled into one.

To wrap up: I think the pacing is exemplary, there really weren't any dead spots for the audience to shift in their seats. Matthew Vaughn's direction neither dazzles nor bores, there is much that is derivative of previous films, but he knows how to build up and pay off an action scene, and there were moments I was sure how a scene was being set up to end, only to be pleasantly surprised at the result. I think my favorite aspect of the film was the use of music, from the use of John Murphy's building epic "Sunshine" and "28 Days Later" themes, to a hilarious "that's just wrong" use of the "Banana Splits" theme. It's possible that with a month to street date, we may have seen some temp music, but I hope not, everything fit perfectly - even Elvis Presley's "America The Beautiful"! The casting works, from the relatively unknown Johnson (whose screen presence in this film is definitely enhanced by how much he looks like Tobey Maguire once he puts the ski mask on), to the quirky haunted Nicolas Cage (who for once forgoes his normal Presley-channeling in favor of some Pure West), to the mostly-British supporting players, made up of bits of cast from Vaughn's previous producing / directing gigs. And for the most part, the teens actually look like teens, not like the 25-year-olds that usually portray teens in film and TV. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. "McLovin'") especially stands out, in a role that sneakily grows into one of the most important and poignant of the film.

I had a blast, I think you will too. I know they've got a month to tinker around with the film, but I for one hope they don't change a frame. I think casual "what's playing tonight" audiences will enjoy an irreverent violent funny action flick, and comic fans will get an extra treat picking out all the comic book references in the background. I really can't imagine anyone anywhere watching "Avatar" had as much fun as we all had last night. I for one will be back, this time with money and peanut M&Ms in hand.

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