Sunday 28 March 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Year: 2010
Director: Matthew Vaughan
Screenplay: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughan
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chole Mortez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage

I can't lie when I say this but I found it to be very difficult to truly get down with the buzz of Kick-ass. When sites like Ain't it cool cooed over its more than warm reception at comic-con, I found it hard to be that excited. It's a super-hero movie based on a comic book written by a notable comic book writer. Call me a cynic but is it really that hard to get comic book fans that impressed over something like this?

The answer? Probably. We all know how finicky fanboys get when Hollywood comes over with it's millions; purchasing material left, right and center to make dubious movies like Catwoman (A film I watched for free and still wanted my cash back). Kick-ass is a little different in that it was more independently produced and had no one to really answer to. This is probably why we've had such a intrusive ad campaign for the project. So meddlesome were the rollover ads, that at one point when checking my mail, the ad was also blocking ANOTHER ADVERT FOR THE BLOODY MOVIE. If the aliens of They Live existed then we would have been under their control to obey in minutes.

Anyway, all that aside there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the film and sometimes with an arsehole like myself this can go the other way from what people want. I've had cinema managers stating it's the best comic-book movie in the last five years, I've had people who were on the film telling me years in advance to watch out for it, So after all the talk, the buzz and ads that block ads advertising the same thing...was it worth it? The answer is yes. I found Kick-ass to be a very satisfying movie. Part coming of age, part comic-book movie, but most importantly all fun.

Picture Watchmen without the anguish, Spiderman without the cheese factor and you get the gist of what your expecting. It's a comic-book movie that loves it's source material and takes pleasure in its absurdity without getting too bogged down in the mental misery that tortures Bruce Wayne in his sleep, or bothers Clark Kent when he's stalking his kid. There is angst throughout the movie, but it's handled well enough that you don't wish to punch the characters in the face. Quite the opposite actually, as screenwriter Jane Goldman (Johnathon Ross' amply breasted wife) and director Matthew Vaughan bring us characters that are very likable and enjoyable to follow.

While it takes narrative points from the aforementioned Spiderman, Kick-ass manages not only to feel fresh but also remain amusingly subversive at times, the titular Kick-ass character likening super-heroes to serial killers is one of the quieter highlights with other moments include aspects such as tracking down Kick-ass' secret identity; a moment which I thought about first and was pleased when the characters brought it up. The film also revels in moments of meta-fiction; idea of a film of a comic book character who then gets his own comic book within the film is a bit of a trippy one, along with a certain filmmaker craftily making sure his wife gets a piece of the action. Also, fans of Layer Cake will not wonder where they've seen that 4x4 before.

But with all the self-referential winks to the audience what Vaughan doesn't forget what they've has come to see and fills the film with some bold set pieces, including two action sequences involving the films break out star Hit-girl (a superlative display from Chloe Moretz) that I absolutely adored. He also helps coax some great performances out of his cast. The aforementioned Moretz is great fun, while Aaron Johnson once again shows off the potential that made his portrayal of John Lennon so appealing in Nowhere Boy. Mark Strong is slowly becoming the go-to guy for general villainy (he makes it look easy). On a lesser note Christopher Mintz-Plasse looks like he may become the next Micheal Cera, while Lyndsy Fonseca is gorgeous but don't look for a show stealing turn as she hasn't got too much to work with. Clark Duke shows his comic timing and made me smile often as Marty. It's a little unfortunate he didn't have me biting the inside of my cheek as much as Nic Cage; two words: Adam West.

So final thoughts on Kick Ass? It works. It's fast, snappy and fun. It took me a little while to get into but once the film finds it's rhythm then I was with it all the way. A film with genuinely enjoyable characters wrapped in an action packed ultra violent package. Empire is suggesting on it's front page as "your new favorite film" which of course comes off as the hyperbole it is but as a piece of mainstream entertainment it's a damn good laugh.