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