I saw perhaps my favourite movie of the year, and we haven’t even crossed the one third mark of the annual yet. “Kick Ass” was pretty awesome. With intelligent writing, a great cast, and a story that requires little else added or taken away from it, “Kick Ass” has all the right pieces of the puzzle. All I can say is that I was thoroughly impressed by a movie which leaves nothing on the table and goes leaps and bounds ahead of what is currently in the theatres or will be released on DVD anytime soon.
I literally have just gotten back from the theatres, maybe 20 minutes off the bus, and am trying to write this with all the enthusiasm with which I left the cinema. Two words can describe the film for me, or at least what I think of the film: uninhibited emotion.
Here’s what I liked about the film:
It had stellar writing. The film had awesome writing. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman wrote a gem of a script which can be found here. Vaughn actually financed the entire project from his own pocket which is admirable. It was fresh, witty, strong and subtle all at the same time. It was how you think people would behave given their incredible circumstances. Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the Oscars for sure in my opinion. Because it was based off of a comic book of the same name by Mark Miller, the same guy who made “Wanted”, there is a certain style that is inherent to the story. However, having read the script, I think they did a wonderful job putting to words the struggles of being a teenager, the complexity of having two separate lives, and the resolve of acting when no one else would. The story follows clichéd superhero arches, however this movie challenges the universally accepted rules of vigilantism, namely the concept of where to draw the line. It demonstrates those same values in a perverse and uninhibited manner.
Secondly, acting was great. Aaron Johnson, who’s also been in a few other movies including playing a young John Lennon, was fantastic, and is sure to be a rising star in the future. He reminds me of how Jesse Eisenberg emerged. I just hope he takes on stronger roles because he certainly has presence as a leading male. Speaking about presence, the youngest character in the movie, Chloe Moretz, had incredible presence, despite the fact that she is only 13 years old. Chloe, who plays “Hit-Girl”, steals all the scenes she is in, and not from other 13 year old girls, but from actors like Nic Cage and Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood from Sherlock Holmes). She definitely has an incredible career ahead of her. She reminded me of a young Natalie Portman, just based of the style of film in which she emerged into the mainstream, Portman in “Leon the Professional”, a great movie by the way. Chloe is due to appear in Scorsese’s next picture as well, if you read the other blog post on “Shutter Island”, she plays the lead in the “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. Nic Cage also delivers in this movie. He has been criticized a lot recently for his movies in the last few years, but two of his recent films have not been too bad. I enjoyed “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans”, and this one is for sure one of his better ones to date. He plays Chloe’s father, his alter-ego aptly titled “Big Daddy”. It’s a great role for him as he plays a gun toting action hero again. Not the sissy “Ghost Rider” type, but the real “Con-Air” “Face-Off” Nic Cage, great show mate.
Thirdly, the music was phenomenal. I enjoy listening to movie soundtracks. They remind me of the movies I’ve seen without having to be near a television, computer, or theatre. This film borrows from some of my favourite film soundtracks, two that I have You-tubed endlessly and feel deserve mention as some of the best backtracks by great composers. If you watch the movie, you might recall “28Days Later” and “For A Few Dollars More”. I also recall that during the opening credits, the music from “Angels in the Outfield” was playing, although my memory of that film is very hazy (many, many years since I last saw that one, but it used to be my favourite live action Disney pictures for a long time). They implemented music perfectly into what was going on in the movie.
Kick Ass does a great job being two things. It is both comedy and superhero film.
As a superhero action film, Kick Ass does a great job. The story is layered well, the characters are covered decently, although not as well as I would have hoped. All the characters nevertheless have dynamic arches that are omnipresent in great superhero films. It isn’t an ordinary superhero movie though. Kick Ass’s life doesn’t have the tragedy that requires a vengeance, nor does it have the treachery that results in a person’s world being flip turned upside down. His reason for being a superhero is he feels it’s his civil duty. Dave says it best “With no power comes no responsibility, except that wasn’t true”. There is one scene in the movie that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, and you really think to yourself what you would do in such a scenario. I liked the questions the film asks of the audience. The moral high ground is often laden with the most challenging discussions, fear, and uncertainty, and this is what creates true superheroes, not super-strength or the ability to fly.
As a comedy, the movie does well. It’s a dark comedy. The film juxtaposes the two genres simultaneously, and you have to wonder if the scene is funny or is trying to make a point. I geared towards the serious side, while some others in the theatre laughed. The wit in the writing was great because all too often some of these high-school comedy films gear towards sex and profanity. Rather, Kick Ass plays on the regular pubescent, hormone driven, awkward, teenage male archetype, and the segmentation that occurs in the diplomatic arrangements of high-school chambers.
What makes this film work was by far the fact that it brought a darker image to the superhero movie franchise. It did more so than “The Dark Knight” in my opinion. Certainly, “The Dark Knight” had one of the best villains in the history of cinema, but without a complementary adversary the Joker was a one man band dancing to the beat of his own drum. This film rather shows what lies beyond the moral limitations of modern day superheroes, even the rebellious ones like Batman or Wolverine. How far is too far, and who defines this line? Dave explains it really well, saying that sure, maybe superheroes don’t exist beyond comic books, their evil counter parts are not restricted to little square frames and are unfortunately all too real.
One criticism that I could draw would be that I think some of the characters were flat. Had their stories been filled out a little more, all the characters might have been dynamic and have had more depth. The story would also hold greater meaning and be deeper than it was. I understand there are time constraints, and to leave any of the scenes out, would probably make it a completely different film, but 10 minutes longer really wouldn’t have hurt the film. I read the script, and deciding what should have been left on the cutting room floor and what to include is a difficult decision to make. If certain elements were included though, key scenes were added or changed, the film would have benefitted. However, it might also have made it a completely different story and message.
The movie has many scenes that chill you, leave you breathless, and make you wonder why things are the way they are. They make you think about how you would react, what you would do in those circumstances. They make you want to learn martial arts and buy a wet suit to wear under your regular clothes. Kick Ass excels because of the way it reaches out to its audience, the ability of the characters to relate to its viewers. I think this film is something everyone should go see. Make an effort to watch it in theatres. It deserves your support.
All I hope is that it doesn’t get a sequel because the film is great the way it is. Anything more to it will ruin the freshness and wit and style this one has. It would be like making a sequel to the Watchmen or something.
I love this movie so much, and the way it was written that for the first time, I have ventured into actually searching for the screenplay which can be found here. The dialogue is brilliant and inspiring, and really captures the angst in a teenager’s life when they see all the things that are flowed within society’s structural frameworks. I think that the message of the story is that if you see something wrong, you can’t wait around for someone else to fix it, you gotta go out there and kick some ass. I think the movie does a great job selling that idea. I was definitely sold. Go out and see this tonight if you know what’s good for you.