Archive for April, 2010

As one of the best films this year, KICK ASS lives up to its title

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Before Iron Man returns to the silver screen with the anticipating sequel to the 2008 summer hit, Kick-Ass marks an early start to the summer movie season by featuring unlikely and different superheroes.
Based on the comic series created by Mark Miller (Wanted) and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake), Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a young comic book geek decides to become a crime fighter named Kick-Ass by putting it on a home-made superhero outfit and fighting crime. His first attempt as a superhero took a near fatal turn when Dave got stabbed in the stomach and ran over by an oncoming car. This leaves him spending months recovering in the hospital and so much metal in his body that it makes his X-ray look like Wolverine. With the ability to not feel any more pain, Dave puts on his outfit again and eventually becomes successful and an overnight sensation. However, he is not the only superheroes in town as he encounters other heroes like Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the father-daughter team of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, who are making their own plans by taking down angry and violent mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
Vaughn and the rest of the filmmakers of Kick-Ass takes the elements that make comic book movies what they are and set them in the real world, resulting sometimes in hilarious moments. Kick-Ass takes the dramatic overtones of such comic book movies The Dark Knight and puts it on its head as those overtones is injected with sly humor and a wink to the audience. The humor is not so over-the-top to be considered a spoof of the superhero genre as the movie has several nods and trademarks that remind the audience that it still a comic book movie. The trademarks include words such as “meanwhile” highlighted in a breakout text box and an entire sequence told via the style of a comic book that details the back story of Big Daddy. Only in a movie like Kick-Ass that audiences would see a father shoot his bulletproof-covered 10-year-old daughter in the chest or a grown man delivering a roundhouse kick to the face of a child.
Written by Vaughn and Jan Goldman, the dialogue of Kick-Ass makes the film even more memorable and hilarious. When Dave is hanging out with his friends, several memorable one-liners are exchanged rapidly that seems to be natural conversation that is reminiscent of the dialogue from Superbad. While there is also many humorous nods to Spider-Man, Batman and several comic book action heroes, there is also several references to today’s technology whether it is MySpace or YouTube that makes it relevant to the story without being just another product placement.
The cast is tremendous as each actor brought their A-game to the table with their performances that include an Oscar-winner and a young actress delivers the breakout performance of the year. British-born Aaron Johnson could have portrayed Dave as another stereotype from high school movies: an awkward and nerdy teenager, but he manages to create a performance that transitions his character from hopeless crime fighter to genuine superhero as the film’s finale allows him to live to the name of his alter ego.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse manages to shake off the McLovin shadow by making this role his own with his portrayal as a son of a mob boss who is dark and troubled that will probably be furthered explored with the possibilities of upcoming sequels. Just coming off his successful turn as Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes, Mark Strong’s performance Frank D’Amico captures the volatile and unpredictable nature of his character that borders on insanity as this being caused by the actions of Big Daddy.
Following his crazy turn in Bad Lieutenant-Port of New Orleans, Nicholas Cage delivers his second best performance of the year as Damon Maccready/Big Daddy, a former cop-turned-vigilante with a tragic back story that was caused by D’Amico and a speech pattern that pays tribute to Adam West’s Batman. Cage’s performance combines the madness and sadness of his character that makes him a tragic hero.
The biggest breakout performance of the film and probably of the year comes from Chloe Moritz (500 Days of Summer) as Mindy Maccready a.k.a. Hit Girl. She easily steals any scene that she is in whether she is sharing father-daughter moments with Cage or dicing and slicing her way through grown men using sharp and powerful weaponry while cursing like a sailor. The most outlandish moments in the movie also involves Moritz’s character taking a bullet from Nicolas Cage’s gun in the chest with bulletproof vest on and taking a roundhouse kick to the face by Mark Strong. The majority of the action that takes place in Kick-Ass involves Moritz moving like a speed demon, taking down men half her size and doing a variety of flips and kicks that would make Steven Segal and Chuck Norris look like pansies. However, her prowess as an actress can also be dramatic in certain scenes that make her character more than just a pint-size killing machine.
One of the best and entertaining films this year, Kick-Ass lives up to its name as the story, the dialogue and performances pays tribute to the comic books genre, while making it a humorous and action-packed look at superheroes set in the real world.

KICK-ASS: 5 stars out of 5