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Gavin Grades The Movies



Kick-Ass

When they first showed footage of this little-know comic book movie at last year's geekfest, Comic Con, it played to standing ovation.  Now I wasn't there so I don't know what was shown or how much was the nerds saw; but I did hear that it spotlighted the movie's gratuitous violence, graphic language and twisted sense of humor.  It's easy to say that that was not false advertising.  Kick-Ass was a concept that relatively unknown British director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) fought to get made and was failing to do so until Brad Pitt got his hands on the script.  Yes, THAT Brad Pitt, who loved it so much he signed on as a Producer, got a bigger budget for the film, got Nicolas Cage to agree to be in it, kept the studio suits from watering it down to PG-13 and eventually got the film made.  Any time that I see Nicolas Cage is the biggest star you have in the movie, I'm willing to guess it's horrible and not even worth a rental on DVD.  The good news for him though is that Cage was great playing a character named Big Daddy in a disturbingly funny and manic performance that makes me remember when he made good films.  Besides him we have a list of main characters played by a progression of actors that get less and less famous the higher you go on the food chain of the film.  We have Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Year One) playing Red Mist but never being known for anything besides McLovin', followed by 13-year-old Chloe Moretz ((500) Days of Summer, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) who's the foul-mouthed assassin Hit Girl and starring in the movie is the completely new British actor Aaron Johnson who plays Kick-Ass.  How that kid landed the lead in a movie like this with very little experience to speak of can only be attributed to his incredibly awkward look, pre-pubescent voice and successful understand and execution of the character.  What the film tries to do is blend humor and action into a post-modern, realistic Superhero story.  The problem is that it doesn't blend it that well.  It comes across as two different movies; the first being a comedy about a teenage boy fantasizing about girls and crime fighting in between masturbation sessions and the second is a hardcore action film that trades the punchlines for blood-splattering headshots.  The second film I liked but the first not so much.  I think the cliche jokes about awkward teenage years that the writers and director thought worked so well, didn't...at least not on me.  There was nothing new brought to the table in the first 45 minutes to an hour of the 2 hour film.  But once that second movie starts, it was like a dam broke open and the rest of the movie is a deluge of fun and violence.  The tone is set really well too by the music.  It's one of the most creative and exciting soundtracks I've heard in years that has such odd choices as a live version of "Glory Hallelujah" complete with audience ovation at the end.  Plus the original score reflects the two different movies well with a great goofball, ska score for the comedy and a downright goosebump-giving, sweeping Superhero score for the end.  This movie worked on a couple different levels, but not all of them.  It stayed faithful to comic book lore that guides all Superhero stories through their plots and it's nice to see them made well for adults...even if it is adults beating the snot out of children who may have just called them the c-word.  But the comedy doesn't work.  The moments that I actually did find funny were marginal at best and after a while they felt way forced and just became obstacles to get to the next action sequence.  If the trailer for the film looked fun to you and you like your Superhero movies with a little less superpowers and a little more R-rating than this is your movie...just don't expect it to be kick ass. Kick-Ass  (Rated R) Gavin Grade: B-

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04/16/2010 9:28PM
Kick-Ass
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04/16/2010 9:37PM
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