17 April 2010

First Impressions: Kick-Ass


There's no better word to describe this movie. It truly is KICK ASS!! There's quite a few signifiers that come along with this film so we've got a lot to get through today. This film means a lot for the zeitgeist, New Sincerity / Post-modernism battle as well as the future of Superhero movies. SPOILERS everywhere, so be warned. I actually think these impressions will be split in twain this weekend, tune in tomorrow for some of my grander thoughts on this movie, today we'll tackle the basic pregame, cast and plot:

Controversial Trailers and Hype:

Weeks before this film even came out there was a good amount of hype and controversy, mostly centering around the actions and mouth of Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Yeah, any parent seeing this has some right to be upset. Little girl likes killing cunts, what can we do? Anyway, it's emblematic of this movie's complete unwillingness to compromise its language or violence. It's nice to see little girls brutalize the baddies, and Moretz is actually one of the shining lights in the film from an acting standpoint. She exudes the kind of confidence while harbouring a deep fear that makes her role work.

Prior to the release, Kick-Ass was getting a good amount of momentum in the most important media-munching demographics, the 18-34 year old male fanboys. The kind of college kids who eat up this kind of stuff. While this and the controversial language and gore increased its attention, it just doesn't have the kind of mainstream appeal (at all) to do really well in theaters (It seems like I'm right so far, although it could still very well win the weekend and will undoubtedly make its budget back). Basically for those interested, there were some very high expectations of gruesome deaths, unrelenting punishment and little girl swears. There was this idea that this movie could be great. Kick-Ass fucking delivers.

Starring Nic Cage as Adam West...

Let's talk about some of these actors here. First of all, CAGE. Wow. He's pretty insane. It's nice to see him in a supporting role, especially doing so well in a supporting role. I know he gets a lot of shit thrown his way, but there's hardly any better actor that can so balance the sort of calmness, fury and terror he's putting out simultaneously at any given moment. He also gets (SPOILS!) one of the best death scenes I've seen in recent memory, both artistically and emotionally. He basically plays Batman with a gun, which I'll get to later.

The casting all-around is pretty awesome. We get more boob out of Lyndsy Fonseca than Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) but the trade off is a much less funny Clark Duke (wait, who cares, that trade off rules). Mark Strong is getting pretty damn good at playing villains, somehow seeing him chew up the evil scenery hasn't gotten old yet (See also, Surecock Holmes [2009], RocknRolla [2008], Robin Hood [2010], Green Lantern [2011]...holy shit this guy plays bad well!). He's slightly comic, slightly evil, very authoritative, full of gravitas. His son, McLovin is perfect playing a character that I could really only describe as McLovin if he were a Superhero. Actually it's nice to see McLovin stem out a bit from the awkward nerd role and at least have a bit of menace, then slight contrition. His treachery was wisely left out of the trailers and commercials as it adds some needed depth to the characters. Finally, Aaron Johnson in the main role is a good kind of every-kid, with the right amount of naivety, guts, duty and fear to make a good would-be superhero.


Nonstop Barrage of Awesome Shit:

That basically sums up this film. Above anything it's really an origin story, although Kick-Ass claims that real-life superheros aren't formed by spider-bites or parents' deaths or anything, he's not truly a hero until the end of the film. It's when reality starts hitting him, through the lies of Red Mist, then the very real guilt over the death of Big Daddy that turns Kick-Ass into a real hero. Along the way, there's a lot of great moments.

The romance between Kick-Ass and Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) is really well done. Unlike other films in which the nerd somehow gets the incredibly hot girl with minimal effort (AHEM - wtf), it's clear that the only way Katie would let Kick-Ass close is if she thought he was gay. Which is exactly what happens. When he finally hits it it's awesome, his nervous boob-touching is hilarious. Kick-Ass' attempts to defend her honour against some dope dealers is also turned on its head, you have to laud his bravery, but he soon gets in over his head. In all, the romance is much more fluid than some other films of this genre. Basically, more fluid than any other film of this genre.

There's also a great ascension to a very fulfilling climax. There's about three huge fights in a row towards the end, all of which feel like the "final big battle." The movie just keeps going, which unlike some films, is a good thing. Each new fight tops the last one and the film makes sure not to end until all the pain and lose ends are tied up.Every injustice is accounted for and every villain pays. It's not tried or cliché. In fact it spins a lot of action tropes on its head, which is delightful. Kick-Ass loses his first fight, gets a Pyrrhic in his second, gets bailed out by Hit-Girl in his third, he basically really sucks until some help from Big Daddy's expense account. The infiltration of New Media is also very interesting, it's one of the first films to treat the expultation of cell phones and MySpace as vital to the mythic growth of a superhero. More on that tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

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