Review: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is a lot of fun and does a nice job at poking fun at the comic book conventions but I can’t help but wonder if this film would have been better off being called Hit Girl.

Kick-Ass is a wannabe super-hero that doesn’t really have any super powers; he is more of a really ambitious Good Samaritan teenage loser named Dave.  Dave is a loser, a big spot of nothing in society that reads comics, masturbates, and hangs out with his only two friends.  But after getting fed up with being pushed around he decides to suit up and fight crime and the results don’t go as planned.  Though when Dave bounces back he is a bit better suited for the role even if he isn’t quite ready for primetime.  Dave tries to discover himself as a man and a crime fighter and his follies will be a plenty as he gets mixed up in a plot involving a couple of fellow rouge vigilante fighters Hit Girl and Big Daddy.  A father/daughter team, they are well trained, well equipped, and have a motive of revenge.

But that’s enough for the plot as there are some twists and turns to be had throughout when the film isn’t plodding as it can from time to time.  And that is one of my few complaints about the film, pacing and possibly unnecessary characters?  Now, the film is called Kick-Ass, named after Dave and his super hero persona, but the film is definitely not his.  Sure Dave has a full coming of age arc, provides some laughs, and allows the story to play with the super hero genre but his tale isn’t that original or nearly as compelling as Hit Girl and Big Daddy.  Their story is a tad clichéd as well, but it makes itself original and flips the familiar story on its head by having the most unlikely duo trying to take down the elusive mob boss. Hit Girl is the reason to see this film though as you will be shocked, taken aback, and in awe at the deeds she does.

Now the film does show its smaller budget a bit in the beginning but by the second half of the film you can see that Matthew Vaughn was saving his bank for the best bits.  Not that the modest budget ever hurts the film, it just makes one wonder what Vaughn could have done with a moderate studio film budget.  The action still looks great, the effects are solid, I just feel like we could have probably “seen” a couple more things if the money was there.  The films humor also works when ever it tries to be funny and equally resonant when it gets serious in a couple of moments. The third act pretty much doesn’t miss a beat and it makes up for a lot of the issues I had with pacing when we were with the less engaging Kick-Ass. Also I liked how they instituted animation into the picture; it was a nice touch even if I would have liked to see the flashback in live action as well.

Also, for the squeamish, this film is full of blood, gore, and cursing, a lot of it carried out by a child, and while it is definitely over the top and ridiculous, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The cast really helps the film work as well as it does and they all play to absurdity and fun of the picture.  Nic Cage is fantastic as the overzealous and slightly loony Big Daddy as he runs his daughter Hit Girl through her training paces.  Cage can be great when playing camp, especially in a fun campy film like this, and he hits all of the right beats as the vengeful father.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Mark Strong are both solid as the villains of the film, and it was nice to see Mintz-Plasse deliver another solid performance without just rehashing McLovin.  Aaron Johnson plays the geeky and bumbling Dave/Kick-Ass just right, and while I wish the character was a tad deeper and interesting, Johnson convincingly gives Dave and Kick-Ass unique voices.  Lastly we get to Chloe Moretz who steals the show as the dirty mouthed and bad ass Hit Girl.  Slicing up and cussing out every bad guy in her way she hands out death like Yoda flying through fights taking on all comers.  She is hilarious, is completely believable as she reigns down death, and will without a doubt be the highlight of the film for you.  Can’t wait to see how she does in the Let the Right One In remake this fall; keep an eye on her.

In the end, Kick-Ass has a couple of questionable moments and weak spots but nothing that comes close to spoiling the fun.  The third act is flat out awesome, exciting, and action packed and worth the price of admission alone add in a nice score and an excellent accompanying soundtrack and you will leave the theater giddy.  Though I think once you get over that high you will find that the film could have been a tad better in its wonky middle. While not as subversive to the genre as Watchmen I couldn’t help but get caught up in a few of the awesome action sequences that would feel right at home in that universe.  Hit Girl’s scenes will stick with you for a while and Moretz is a star in the making and some major kudos to Matthew Vaughn for going out on a limb to finance this tale to bring it to the silver screen.  Though I can’t help but wonder what this story would be like if it was solely Hit Girl and Big Daddy’s as the main plot and dilemma of the film is solely theirs and they were far and away the most interesting/coolest parts of the film.

Kick-Ass is a B+

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