Monday, April 19, 2010

KICK-ASS: The Film Babble Blog Review

KICK-ASS (Dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2010)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as geeky high school student Dave Lizewski, wonders in a world where millions love comic book and movie superheroes, why don't more people actually try to become real-life superheroes? Taylor-Johnson's mother has just died, he's invisible to girls, and chronic masturbating is his biggest hobby (yeah, I know - TMI) so we can see why he fantasizes so vividly about being a superhero.

Not letting the fact that he possesses no special powers get in his way, Taylor-Johnson orders a green wet-suit online, dubs himself "Kick-Ass," and sets about fighting crime on the streets of New York City. Kick-Ass gets his ass horribly kicked by a couple of petty thugs on his first outing enough to put him in the hospital.

This doesn't discourage Taylor-Johnson's from following his superhero pursuits, because he's now reconstructed with metal grafts and with his deadened nerve endings he can fight without pain. So when another brawl is captured by camera phones he becomes an internet sensation via YouTube and a household name.

A girl he has a crush on (Lyndsy Fonseca) suddenly takes an interest in him, but as his snarky friends (Clark Duke and Evan Peters) suggest it's because she thinks he's gay. Fonseca has no inkling of Johnson's infamous alter ego when she emails Kick-Ass's MySpace account (the only aspect of the film that feels out of date) asking for help. A dangerous drug dealer is harassing her at the needle exchange clinic she works at and immediately Kick-Ass is on the case.

However, the pile of bodies that results in a ghetto showdown comes not from Kick-Ass, but from the surprise appearance of "Hit-Girl" (Chloe Moretz). The foul mouthed and fast acting Hit-Girl (who's 11 by the way) takes no prisoners, killing every attacking lowlife and leaving Kick-Ass stunned. She's the real deal he sees, and she's the protégé of another real deal - her father Nicholas Cage as "Big Daddy" whose shiny black costume makes him look like Batman's brother and he has lethal weaponry out the wazoo to match. 

From here out Hit-Girl and Big Daddy steal the movie from Kick-Ass and he never quite gets it back. The villains they all go up against are big time mob boss Mark Strong and his son, McLovin himself - Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who has his own mock superhero guise: Red Mist.

Kick-Ass calls it quits now that shit just got real (not a line from the film but it just as well could be) and comes out as straight to Fonseca - the old pretending he's gay in order to get closer to her premise you see. Of course, he's gonna have to get back in the game and join Hit-Girl for the inevitable action movie climax. KICK-ASS has so many successful sequences going for it that I can overlook the myriad of problems I have with it, but for the record here they are. The satirical nature of the material replaced with predictable noisy bombastic mechanics in the last third, with the laughs sadly fading with the satire. And in the words of Grandpa Simpson: "The romantic subplot felt tacked on."

That said, KICK-ASS has a great cast - Johnson, Mintz-Plasse, and Strong are all solid and it's great to see a porn-stached Cage chew up the scenery with Moretz whose Hit-Girl poise, presence and power, as I said before, really steals the show. That is, if you don't have a problem with an 11-year old girl spouting out extreme profanity while she slaughters the enemy in bouts of ultra violence.

Don't bring the kids, or even the kid inside you to see this movie; it's an dark adult shoot-em up with a high body count packaged as a teenage superhero comedy - it's SKY HIGH as directed by Quentin Tarentino. It might not kick ass as much as I thought it could, but, as it's the first major movie to use the internet popularized phrase that something or someone "owns" (I believe the Onion AV Club's ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER coined it) for the most part it does indeed own.

More later...

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