(Informal) Movie Review: Kick-Ass
As many of you know, “Kick-Ass” opened this weekend, courtesy of Maple Pictures. We were unable to attend a screening, so our reviews were not able to be published on opening day. Three of our reviewers caught up with the film over the weekend, below are their opinions/reviews. Oh yes, and we hope none of our readers take offense to the use of mild language due to the film’s title.
Kick-Ass Review By John C.
***1/2 (out of 4)
Throats are slit, legs are chopped off, two characters are killed by the same bullet, and this is just some of the disturbing violence inflicted by a young girl upon an army of grown men, while she spews swear words of the worst kind. Kick-Ass is a new and highly controversial (for good reason) comic book adaptation. If you haven’t heard of it by now, then prepare to be educated.
The extreme violence I mentioned comes courtesy of Hit Girl. A cute little girl who inflicts vigilante justice upon a gang of evil drug dealers, at the urging of her psychotic father, Big Daddy. Her father is played to crazy perfection by Nicolas Cage, and Hit Girl is played by Chloë Grace Moretz, the bright young talent from (500) Days of Summer. This is the kind of role that makes you wonder if she’ll ever again be seen as an innocent child.
Hit Girl steals every scene, but Kick-Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson, John Lennon in the upcoming Nowhere Boy), a teenager who is mugged and often witnesses onlookers just shaking their heads and walking by. So he orders a wet suit on the internet, and tries to adopt the life of a superhero by battling crime and helping those in need. Throughout his crime fighting endeavors, he gets mixed up with a group of gangsters and is forced to team up with the other superhero-wannabes.
At one pivotal point, three guys attack one poor man as Kick-Ass is left to intervene. Several onlookers view the scene, but not one of them lends a hand. Dave tells them to call the police, but their cell phones are being used to record the event for YouTube. He asks how they can just sit back and watch, and that is the question asked often in Kick-Ass. How can we do nothing when someone needs our help, but more importantly, when has helping gone too far?
The movie plays as part teen comedy, part superhero movie, and equal parts action thriller. It’s often hilarious, but also disturbing, sometimes even in the same scene. The violence is extremely graphic and often cringe-inducing. The tone is more Tarantino than Spider-Man, right down to the killer dialogue and brilliantly ironic song choices.
Throughout all this, is it a good movie? For me, it’s a very good one. But for a lot of people it won’t be, and I fully respect that. The violence is violent, and the editing is highly stylized, which is just another reason why it won’t be for everybody. Recommending it doesn’t come easily, but the acting, story and thought-provoking themes are certainly worth seeing.
If the movie were to be watched by kids, then that would be a very bad thing. But if it is seen by adults as a brutal, equal parts hilarious and disturbing look at our times, then it comes highly recommended. Although not without some flaws, Kick-Ass is destined to be a cult-classic, and though it sometimes feels more like a knife to the stomach, it often does what the title implies.
Kick-Ass Review By Erin V.
***1/2 (out of 4)
Dave Lewkoski (Aaron Johnson) is an average, geeky, teenage boy. He and his friends are virtually invisible to girls, (his only known superpower), and comic-book obsessed. Dave then gets to thinking, ‘why doesn’t anyone do it in real life?’ – be a superhero that is – to which his two friends inform him, ‘if anyone actually tried it, they’d be dead in a day’. Probably true, but Dave doesn’t want to just be a bystander anymore. So he buys a wetsuit (to be his costume) online, deciding to become a superhero – Kick-Ass.
Kick-Ass’s first attempt at heroism, lands him in the hospital after being stabbed and hit by a car, but he is still determined to make a difference. After his actions, defending a guy from being beaten by a gang, end up on YouTube, he is instantly a star, and starts taking requests to help people via MySpace. Very 21st century…
Meanwhile, Kick-Ass garners attention from other superhero-wannabes, including the father and daughter team of ‘Big Daddy’ (Nicholas Cage) & ‘Hit Girl’ (Chloë Grace Moretz), and ‘Red Mist’ (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Big Daddy wants revenge on a crime boss by the name of Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), and trains his pre-teen daughter to be a lethal fighter. The scenes between Cage and Moretz when they are just talking to each other are oddly funny, as they are so far from reality. Big Daddy refers to Hit Girl by pet names, talking to her like a child, yet they are talking about different types of knives, and ‘making the bad guys go bye-bye’… It’s this kind of weird clash that makes their scenes. He talks to her like a child, and she talks with a potty mouth spouting swear words – but their relationship works. As for Red Mist, I don’t want to really give away his role in this film.
Kick-Ass has been called controversial, due mainly to it’s Tarentino-style violence, especially from Hit Girl, and I don’t argue that fact. You can’t argue that it’s more than a little disturbing to see a kid in that kind of role. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to determine when they’re coming, so I personally looked away during the majority of the violent scenes – no matter who they involved. If I’d watched all of the violence, I really don’t think I would have come out of the film liking it as much. Basically, the violence is violent, no matter who’s initiating/taking it. Granted though, if you think about it, you really realize how comic-fantasy the whole thing is, and it has a lot of moments that remind you of this. The film should be taken that way.
What I liked about the film was that a lot of the dialogue driven scenes were quite funny and sharply written. It has enough comedy to keep it going. The music choices were odd but cool, and the editing was superb at times. Not just in action sequences, but in the cuts taking you from one scene to the next – nice match cuts here – (Example: Look for the bullet-to-bowling-ball cut). The acting was good, and although 2 hours long, the film didn’t drag. Essentially, Kick-Ass is well-made, and overall a lot of fun. Just don’t go see it if you don’t like violence like the theater ending of Inglourious Basterds – unless you plan on looking down during several scenes.
Kick-Ass Review By Tony
*** (out of 4)
“What would Quentin do?” was the motto kept in front of the Scottish writer Mark Millar as he penned the comic book series on which Kick-Ass is based. If you are offended by the 11-year-old “Hit Girl” (Chloë Grace Moretz) laying out a bigger body count than all the other characters combined while spouting an impressive vocabulary of invective, then this film is not for you. The rest of us will have a great time as the heroes take on the bad guys with tons of comic-book action.
Aaron Johnson as the title character is really just a high school kid with more ambition than skill, while “Big Daddy” and his daughter are the real pros. Nicholas Cage is at his self-mocking best in this role. The film is well-paced with skillful editing, especially in the action scenes. The script is very witty, and the score, ranging from classical through pop tunes to the Battle Hymn of the Republic during a gatling-gun fusillade, adds to the fun.
Consensus: The level of disturbing violence certainly won’t be for everyone, but Kick-Ass plays as part hilarious superhero comedy, and part brutal look at our current society. As that, it’s a very worth seeing – if controversial – movie for adults. ***1/4 (Out of 4)