100 Days of Superheroes- Day 83: Kick Ass (2009)
When a nerd becomes a superhero......actually it turns out to work pretty well.
"This Kick Ass came into our warehouse and killed all my men. I want Kick Ass's head!"
We are back in the indie film category again. Except this time around this film looks like it was made on a big budget. It’s what actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse jokingly referred to as “the most expensive home video ever made,” as it was a passion project funded out of director Michael Vaugnes pocket. When the studios said they didn’t want it, he delivered anyways, giving one of the best of the Superhero comedies.
The movie undoubtedly owes a lot too other superhero properties, most notably Spider-Man as the main character is very comparable to Peter Parker. However in ways this is a plus because it allows the movies to drop a lot of “in” jokes for the comic book crowd (for whom this film will appeal to the most).
The movie opens with Dave, a loser at school who wonders why no one ever tries to become a superhero. It’s a question, which results in him putting on a green onesy and heading out to get his ass kicked. The movies end moral is pretty much to show WHY one does not become a superhero, but we don’t care about that. This movie is made for the laughs and gratuitous violence and that is where it thrives. It does have it’s moments of legitimate drama, but it’s not that memorable.
Basic unknown actor Aaron Johnson plays the role well. He manages to make him a likable character even though the character itself has a lot of dislikable qualities. He plays a cracking voice well, but unfortunately isn’t that funny. Most of his funniest scenes are due to situational comedy rather than dialogue or timing.
Anyways Kick Ass ends up getting so beat up his first night out that he has metal plates placed on almost every bone in his body and his nerves lose their ability to feel pain (again subtle references to other superheroes). This just allows him to take more of a beating, not necessarily be any more effective. When he becomes an internet sensation, he gets caught up in a fight between another superhero, Big Daddy and a mobster by the name of Frank Damaco, portrayed fantastically by Mark Strong.
Nick Cage returns to the superhero genre in this film. Now I’ve stated before in my Ghost Rider reviews that he has only one good movie/performance for every ten. Fortunately this is one of his good ones. Cage is great in the role as a bitter cop out to get revenge on the man who framed him. He is funny, quirky, and at times bad ass. He nails the role.
Big Daddy also has a side kick, his daughter Hit Girl, played by Chloe Mortez. In all honesty she is the highlight of the film. You would be hard pressed to find a little girl as brutal as she is. With a potty mouth, knives and every kind of weapon imaginable, her character kind of outshines everyone else in the film. It doesn’t hurt that she is also played by one of the most talented child actors around. In fact the films climax almost centers on her to a fault. The film is supposed to be about Kick Ass but he almost vanishes from the end of the movie.
McLovin also manages to find himself some work. I’m referring to Mintz-Plasse for any of you who haven’t seen Superbad (NOT a superhero film). He plays the antihero Red Mist who is the son of the villain and becomes a fake masked hero to try and get to Big Daddy. Pretty much he is the precursor to the super villain and the film even makes that connection in a clever scene.
For a relatively low budget film, the movie has some spectacular fight scenes and visuals. Pretty much everything you would look for in a summer blockbuster action flick is here. The practical effects looks tremendous but the small amount of CGI they use looks fake and cartoonish. This is a major issue that some people may have with it. Like many indie superhero films is follows the trend of being about people who don’t have powers. Except unlike Special and Defendor, it doesn’t attempt to portray it in a realistic way (as the beginning of the movie may suggests). Instead it becomes increasingly cartoonish as it progresses.
But the complaints I have about Kick Ass are minor in the grand scheme of things. It’s greatest weakness is still that it has so many in jokes that it likely won’t appeal to the non-comic book fan as much as the already initiated. Yet the jokes keep it a fun ride and seeing a ten year old blowing peoples heads off can be quite a bit of fun too, providing the thought of it doesn’t make you squeamish.
FINAL RATING: 8/10- (80%)
Previous DAY 82- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
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