Kick-Ass (2010)

One of the saving graces of “Kick Ass” is the casting of Chloe Moretz, a young girl who manages to completely and utterly steal the show from every single cast member here including Clark Duke, and she’s managed to spawn an unlikely legion of admirers who came to the movie to see a little girl mutilate everyone in her path. While “Kick Ass” never quite manages to muster up the sympathetic story it did in the comics, Matthew Vaughn completely wins over the crowd with Hit Girl aka Mindy, the most interesting character in the bunch who is given the most interesting conflict in the film as this character whose own life manages to play out like a typical hero origin. Little girl loses her mom after her dad is framed for a crime, she’s trained by him to become a killer, the dad dies and she avenges him in cruel and unusual ways. I assumed the girl would hit the big time after seeing her steal scenes from Joseph Gordon Levitt in “(500) Days of Summer” but here Matthew Vaughn shows that he takes the character very seriously and never dodges her sheer brutality in the face of schmoes who happen to come across her blade.

Her first appearance in the film in full regalia manages to be just as fantastic as it was in the comic series (including the hooker impaling) and Moretz is more than up to the challenge to grab this character by the throat. As for Dave Lizewski, his character is very interesting and that’s only because of the supporting performances by Clark Duke and Evan Peters, two actors who manage to keep Aaron Johnson’s rather bland performance afloat with snappy one-liners. Vaughn and co. completely dodge creator Mark Miller’s vicious homophobia by making Lizewski’s charade of being homosexual hilarious, especially when he’s asked by the always entertaining Duke who he’d be in to more Kick Ass or Red Mist. “Kick Ass” strives to be the “Shaun of the Dead” of the superhero sub-genre with a self satirical tone that also includes a narrative of its very own and in many instances it can accomplish such a feat staging potentially action packed sequences that falter under the ineptitude of its core character Dave whose own grasp for fame completely leaves him open to imminent death.

While I’m not always open to alterations to the original source material, Vaughn adds so much more to the story that manages to enhance the characters and the climax completely making it much more gory, much more interesting and even serves us up a pre-showdown Hitgirl carnage sequence involving a pair of night vision goggles that was three kinds of exciting. “Kick Ass” is definitely a serviceable two hours if you want a depature from the doldrums of the superhero sub-genre. Like most comic book adaptations, in an attempt to build his own sort of precedence, director Matthew Vaughn detracts from the original source material to comprise an uneven superhero movie that’s fifty percent a spoof in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead,” and then suddenly reverts in to a full on superhero film with our characters, whom we’re told are just stupid individuals, are able to do fantastic things like fly in front of a building with a jet pack without even being noticed and without falling.

“Kick Ass” from Mark Millar was a lot more than just people dressing up in costumes and fighting crime, it was about people seeking relevance in a world where they would ultimately be mere blips on a television screen. Dave Lizewski is a boy who has nothing to offer and by the end of his adventure where lives have been taken, he still has nothing to offer and accomplished nothing. Even with social networking and the internet, Millar makes it clear these people mean nothing in the end, and just chronicled these characters struggles to be noticed and admired for just living out a stupid fantasy. “Kick Ass” avoids that message and just outright dives head first in to superhero mumbo jumbo contradicting its alleged spoof of the genre in the first place.

So ultimately the movie feels very uneven and never quite manages to achieve what it sets out to do in the first place while all the while abandoning Millar’s whole anarchic atmosphere and lets these characters off way too easily in the end promoting the alleged message it’s trying to downplay. As for Nicolas Cage, the man seriously needs an acting class or two because I never quite understood why he’s in this movie in the first place and he basically adds nothing to the whole narrative. Every single time he’s on screen he drags down the pacing and his impression of Adam West is just cheesy and ruins the whole dynamic between him and Hitgirl with extreme force. I couldn’t believe it but the demise of his character was the best moment of the whole movie. Like almost every comic book adaptation, “Kick Ass” misses the whole point of the original series. For what it is it’s a serviceable two hours with some entertaining moments, but otherwise “Kick Ass” is fairly forgettable. How does Nic Cage keep getting work?