G-S-T Review…Kick-Ass

Not being very familiar with Kick-Ass, I was excited because of how the trailers looked and felt, but more importantly, the fact that this is directed by long time Guy Ritchie collaborator, Matthew Vaughn. So, knowing little to nothing about the “source material” I walked into the theater hoping for a ride as sweet as Red Mist‘s Mustang. In short, the movie didn’t live up to the trailers but was still an enjoyable time.

PREMISE: Without any super powers to be found (or injected by radio-active insects) Dave Lizewski, after reading a few too many comic books, decides to become a real life superhero. Taking a fair amounts of knocks in his newfound profession as “Kick-Ass”, he finds popularity and a fan base among the citizens of the city. However he also discovers he is not the only crusader out there and that he is far less “super” than he originally thought. He has a lot to learn before he can become effective hero worthy the title.

HIGHS: Any movie with Mark Strong attached automatically gets the quality level set super high. He always delivers fine performances and (if you’ve read his interviews) is one classy guy. Any role Strong is in, he just gives it his all and is a treat whenever he’s on-screen. Basically he just brought the whole movie to a more impressive level. Further, I believe that his presence as Frank D’Amico, did what Gene Hackman did playing Lex Luthor in the original Superman. In many ways he as the bad guy was more impressive than the main character.

Truth be told, I most certainly thought that Nic Cage’s involvement would be a low point. Yet his quirky nature in the film was decidedly awesome, and after the first few minutes, it was very welcomed. Nearly the best character in the film, Cage’s alter ego, Big Daddy, was the biggest delight in Kick Ass. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you yet to see it, but his dialog and mannerisms nearly make the movie (and should be surprisingly familiar to some of you super hero fans).

The action department was chock full of inventive and pretty sweet sequences. I for one was a little upset that every kill was done with digital splatters and bullet hits. Personally, I like to see actual action and interaction of hits/strikes/sweet fighting. That feels more real so the action feel is a better sell to the viewer, but here it just felt a little hollow. Yet the scenes in Kick Ass were still high energy, fun and inventive…namely all of Hit Girl‘s scenes. However, the best fight scene in the movie included Big Daddy (again, a huge surprise to me) and his awesome warehouse throw-down. Very very cool!

LOWS: While I don’t know the narrative style of the comic book, a prominent problem I found with this film was that it wasn’t sure how it wanted to tell the story. Kick-Ass walked the line between being a Spider-Man spoof and an homage. Some parts seemed like blatant rip-offs to show the difference between someone who is a “super hero” and a person who is obviously not. I think if the dreadful Superhero Movie had not come out prior to this, I would wager Kick-Ass would have been a fine idea as a clever “What-If?” scenario running parallel to the first Spider-Man film. Sadly, all I could think of was that was that this film seemed to get to the party a tad late. But that’s just me.

The comedy/dramatic line was a little too indiscernible without a clear decisive winning formula. I was expecting a Superbad level of comedy set in and around an action story. Yet the movie placed both elements in the wrong parts. I felt more scenes needed to be serious when they were trying to be funny and conversely,  other scenes were way too serious when a few laughs would have worked better. Also I was upset about the with the repeated underutilization of Clark Duke. Every scene was a missed opportunity and I was hoping for much more of his sarcasm, which (if you’ve seen Sex Drive) is really funny.

Lastly, I don’t think the movie progressed well. It was choppy and didn’t transition smoothly, almost making is seem like some parts were cut out for pacing. Or maybe they didn’t have sufficient sequences to bridge the gaps. Either way the movie didn’t really feel like there was a satisfying arc for Kick-Ass. Which may not be so bad as he isn’t a real super hero, so growing and honing your skills only goes so far when you can’t fly, climb walls or see through them.

RULING: As I wrote at the top, Kick-Ass did not live up to the trailers (to which the blame falls on the “cherry picking” trailer editors and not the production team behind Kick-Ass) but I still think it was a successful comic book film. Hell, even with its faults it is still hands and feet above the recent terrible comic film out there (which shall remain nameless but you can probably think of a handful of  bad ones). I also really have nothing good or bad to say about the film’s titular character, but Kick-Ass himself just seemed to disappear on-screen amongst the better talents. I like how they leave the film open for a sequel (or to expand on the franchise) and am looking forward to what comes next. I just hope he has more presence in the next film.

To me, the film still succeeded with about 70% of the material…and for all you high school kids out there that’s still a passing grade, right?

G-S-T Ruling: 3/5

G-S-T Seal of Approval: GRANTED

Comments

  1. mcarteratthemovies says:

    I liked it much more than I expected! The trailers make it out to be so PG or PG-13 that I was stunned by the amount of violence and profanity, but since I’m very desensitized to both — thanks, Quentin Tarantino! — I got over it. Chloe Moretz is becoming one of my favorite young actresses working today. And I cannot resist McLovin — er, I mean Christopher Mintz-Plasse — in anything.

    • I think it doesn’t need repeating that we’re Mark Strong fans…but he can do so little wrong. Personally I think he’s cool because he speaks with an accent. To hear him with an American accent takes a little shine off his performance. He actually looks to be channeling his impressive (albeit underused) role in Flashbacks of a Fool…but here he had just a bit more hair:P

      Also, I was underwhelmed by some of the action. For an over the top film in nature, I expected a level on par with Wanted, which may not be a great film but it set the action/shoot em up bar waaay up there!

  2. mcarteratthemovies says:

    Also, I tagged you in this little blog forward thing that’s going around — it’s fun, I promise!

    http://mcarteratthemovies.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/cest-moi-in-10-movie-facts/

    • Thanks for the kind words on your page (and for sucking me into what is now the equivalent of Blogging Chain Mail). But this is actually pretty good timing as I haven’t figured out what I was going to write about for tomorrow. Guess I have a topic now…just hope I can find someone who hasn’t been asked to participate:(

  3. With every post I read, I’m beginning to wonder more and more about the marketing. This isn’t a straight-up ‘superhero movie’, nor is it a parody. It’s a story that exists in our world, where people are inspired (misled?) by what they see in the comic book world.

    Funny that you mention Clark Duke being under-utilized (I don’t think he was, but anyway). If anyone in this movie gets stilted, it’s Red Mist as he seems to go from being a keener wanting his dad’s approval to being a turncoat villain pretty damned quick.

    Glad to hear you dug it though…perhaps a second viewing when it hits dvd will endear you a bit more to it.

    PS – If you’re interested, Heather from Movie Mobsters and I did a podcast about it, which was posted on my blog today.

  4. CrazyRico says:

    I can’t believe I’m hearing any negativity about this movie. While I have to admit that at times it felt a little slow to progress, I think it delivered quite a bit more than it promised in the trailers – and I dug for the additional trailers.

    First things being first, this is not a movie about ‘super’ heroes or for that matter – heroes of any sort at all. They are all people, people with issues. They have all become involved with crime-fighting for their own specific reasons, some noble, some not so. I don’t want to be the spoiler, so I will try to curb my observations – somewhat. You have a character who, initially, is so ‘walk on’ that he might not have read the script. To the other extreme you go to the character who is so obsessed that he would sacrifice the childhood of his only daughter to create a ‘weapon’ (in all fairness he did this to protect her as well – misguidedly).

    From what I saw in most trailers, this was meant to be a light hearted ‘feel good’ romp. It was much darker than that, and for that I am thankful. This production was given much more depth, and cynicism. There isn’t always the perfect, happy ending. Victory, if it is to be had, comes at a price. What are you willing to pay to see your ideals realized? I assure you, that is directly proportionate to what you have to lose.

    3.5 of 5 stars? no. I say 9 of 10, at least. That is, unless you want to come up wrong side of CrazyRico (trademark and logo pending).

    • Welcome back Rico! While I would so hate to diminish the breadth of your comment with a short response, it really comes down to tastes. It just didn’t fully work for me because if the reasons mentioned above.

      Also in this case it was expectations/preconceptions. I was expecting something different and when what I got wasn’t what I was hoping for, I was let down. But part of that is me, and it further makes me thing about going into media blackout prior to seeing a movie I really am excited about. I’m doing that right now for Iron Man 2 and Robin Hood.

      But I’m not the only one thinking it wasn’t all it could have been. I would have given it a 4/5 (which is an 8 out of 10…closer to your 9) if they didn’t go with an unknown for Kick-Ass. He just was a non element…but maybe that was Vaughn’s intent. I do however have hope for the next film (should it come to pass) and I’ll bet it will be better by leaps and bounds…just like Hellboy II.