Kick-Ass Review: It’s Kick Ass
Warning – Kick- Ass is an 18A movie, meaning that only 18 year olds and above should be seeing this movie (with good reason). If you are not 18 years old, please refrain from seeing the movie.
It is fair to say that I immediately enjoyed Kick-Ass, a movie by Matthew Vaughn based on the original comic by Mark Millar. The movie is so outrageous and destructive that it’s hard not to enjoy the movie. The plot begins in much the same was as every other teen flick, where the male main character, Dave Lizewski, wants to make a change to his boring average life. The signature twist of this film is that instead of throwing a giant party or engaging in some kind of parade of sexual domination, he decides to become a superhero. However, he immediately discovers that this is a much more difficult task than he first envisioned, and gets himself caught in the much larger and more surreal fight between the mob boss D’Amico and the vigilantes Hit Girl and Big Daddy. This gang war eventually steals the spotlight of the movie, and coming to a climax, men die and Gatling guns are shot. The climax is absurdly satisfying, and I think should get the award for the best use of a bazooka I’ve seen in a film.
Bazooka or not, this doesn’t detract from the story’s negatives, which are numerous. Many parts of the story are cheesy, on a literal, we saved the day let’s ride into the sunset sorts of moments. It’s unfortunate that the end of the movie is one of these, as well as a significant flying fight scene, where it’s clear the special effects budget had run out. Luckily, most of these scenes can usually be taken in as part of the fun, as they are crazy and hilarious in their own right. The cheese only becomes a constant nuisance during the romance scenes. Generally any time Katie, Dave’s love interest, opened her mouth, I shuddered in my seat. Her dialogue was corny, and her occasionally hammy acting made things worse. These instances felt like they were forcefully inserted into the movie for the sake of romantic tension and to drive the number of obscenities higher.
The characters of the film are well played by their actors. Aaron Johnson plays a convincingly bewildered and dreaming 17 year old, who happens to play a superhero with a poor name choice. Nicholas Cage, the only real ‘star’ to be cast in this film, is remarkable as Big Daddy. He’s half-Adam West, half-William Shatner, playing his role appropriately. An obsessive but caring father is not a tremendously difficult role, but I did enjoy seeing him in it. The character who I personally think stole the spotlight of the film was Hit Girl, so much so that I didn’t care so much for Kick Ass as I did her. It became a series of ‘what disturbingly violent and offensive thing will that 11 year old girl do next?’ and I stopped paying attention to the main character, especially since his exploits weren’t as interesting in the long run.
Hit Girl is also a make or break point with the movie. The character has a swear word count as high as any given character in the movie The Departed and usually follows it up with a frighteningly violent act for an eleven year old to be committing. Acts include throwing grenades, stabbing multiple people with swords, and then shooting them down with their own gun. Without her character, the movie is easily 14A. My personal response was to break into laughter any time her character appeared on the screen, solely because it was so offensive, which I presumed was much of the movie’s joke.
The point behind Kick Ass’ series of upsetting scenes is to parody the nature of the superhero genre and action movies in general. While we usually only see the violence being cut away or toned down, Kick Ass shows what it would take for a vigilante to have any effect on a crime syndicate. Hit Girl exists solely to make these exploits creepier and point out how depraved action movies have really gotten. However, these are themes better handled by movies like Watchmen and Pulp Fiction, which have a degree of sophistication Kick Ass doesn’t. If you’re going to watch Kick Ass, don’t expect anything deep to come from it. This explanation only serves to be a justification for the film’s existence.
Really, if you wanted to watch Kick Ass, by now you’ve already made up your mind before reading this review. The movie is as ridiculous and violent as the trailers. It is also very funny, if unintentionally so at times. The only negatives I can think of are the plot failures mentioned earlier and the orchestral score, which resorted to the usual cliché sounds as often as it could, and increased the cheese factor. The soundtrack itself isn’t bad, in fact all the music accompanying Hit Girl’s brutal montages is fantastic.
In the long run, I certainly enjoyed Kick Ass. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to take a shower soon after watching it.