Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick-Ass Movie Review

Some movies seek to deepen the human experience and leave an audience enlightened to a higher state of being. Other movies transcend film with color and light, experimenting with all common elements of a movie until the end result is more like a beautiful painting and is to be seen as nothing more. Then, there’s Kick-Ass, the dirty half brother of all of these who does an amazing array of acrobatics to the thunderous applause of a New York City street audience and ands the display by landing atop a nearby mugger and twisting his head off. The blood sprays forth in classic Japanese fashion, drenching all those standing in front. Some people walk away in disgust. Some vomit immediately. Others clap even louder and with enthusiasm.

Kick-Ass is one answer to the eternal geek question of “Why don’t people dress up as super heroes and fight crime?” Seriously, the math on this conundrum by itself is astounding if you take the number of people who read comics and then figure the number of masked super heroes out there right now handing out sandwiches to the homeless. Shouldn’t there be crime fighters in the news daily? Dave Lizewski ponders this very question long and hard before donning a scuba suit and mask and taking to the streets, only to have his ass handed to him on his first attempt. Lesson number 1: Being a super hero hurts.

Before long, Kick-Ass gets into the swing of things and after one viral video of his heroics; he’s a hit, catching the eye of the criminal underworld as well as fellow super bad-asses Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Do the trio band together and run off into the night to make the world a safer place for democracy? Yes and no. Kick-Ass explores the nature of human beings and how they react to an increasingly violent world. In this case, they slip on a mask and fight back. Dave picks up two batons and with little more than sit ups and dulled nerve endings to assist him, he tries to do a little good. For Big Daddy and Hit Girl, its more about revenge. The solution to stopping crime is a bullet between the eyes, a knife to the guts and general dismemberment. After all, it’s hard to deal crack to kids if you’ve got no legs.

While Kick-Ass is not short on social commentary, it doesn’t take a pause to point out the message and let it sink in…for there are many bad guys to kill horribly and only so much screen time to squeeze it in. By day, characters exchange witty banter that will keep you laughing throughout, weather from the direct sarcastic humor of Dave and his dorky friends or the over the top, nearly psychotic banter between Big Daddy and Hit Girl. You’ll also get a healthy dose of hysterics from the cartoonish Italian mobsters who split the difference with equal parts A! OH! mob slapstick and crackerjack comedic timing draped over a bit of ultra violence. Speaking of which, to say Kick-Ass is bloody is an understatement. I find it hysterical that people are more appalled with 11 year old looking Hit Girl’s use of the word CUNT than in her ability to scale a grown man and use his own gun to shoot him through the top of his head. What a world we live in. Through it all, the violence is so over the top most of the time, and squarely directed at the baddest of the bad, that you’ll find fellow movie goers laughing just as much at the arterial spray as they did the one liners. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Hit Girl is a genius at killing, running up walls and redirecting gunfire like a midget Jackie Chan in a purple wig. You’ll leave the theater anxious to twitter your demands for an all Hit Girl movie follow up!

Some have said that Kick-Ass is the furthest extent of geek worship splashed upon a screen for the amusement of the most idiotic of our nation. To them, I say you clearly know nothing about the genre, and much less about the comic buying public. Kick-Ass is not a very well known title, so to say people are flocking to screens to see if the adaptation holds true as we did for Hulk and Iron Man is laughable. Most people who put Kick-Ass on their must see list saw a trailer with funny gags and Hit Girl saying cunt and yelled SOLD! How different is this film from the last Rambo which had body parts launched skyward at every opportunity? I’d say it is even tamer than most action films where the hero finds himself framed and then kills several cops making a get away. I’ll also argue that comics today have some of the best writers working in any medium and churn out projects far superior to 80% of TV and film on a weekly basis. Go read DC’s Identity Crisis or Top Cow’s Midnight Nation or even some of the finer moments of Marvel’s New Avengers and tell me I’m wrong. To dismiss a film for being dumb and violent is one thing. Saying it is the dimmest product of mouth breathing comic people is insulting.

All ranting aside, Kick-Ass is a damn good time. It’s a bit troubling to hit the theaters and see empty seats, even after piles of positive reviews and stellar word of mouth. It all comes down to this. If you want to laugh, have your jaw dropped by amazing stunt work, heart strings tugged on sufficiently and flinch like you might actually get punched in the head at any moment without the aid of 3D trickery to convince you, Kick-Ass is your perfect date.

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