Movie Review: Kick-Ass
I've been burned at the theater a few times recently, and burned bad. Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Transformers 2... all very popular movies, all of which I hate. But Kick-Ass is one of my most anticipated movies of 2010, so I ventured forth from the cocoon I erected around my brain that protects me from the psychological turmoil of crap movies to give it a chance... despite the fact that Roger Ebert calls the movie "morally reprehensible". Does it really deserve Ebert's scathing review?
Kick-Ass dances around different facets of the superhero movie concept, sometimes comically, sometimes brutally, by featuring an interesting dichotomy of two very different types of heroes. Kick-Ass himself is the hero living in the real world, a normal comic book nerd who takes it upon himself one day to become a superhero by promoting himself over the Internet. He doesn't have any special powers or crazy weapons and regularly gets pummeled.
His companions, Big Daddy and Hit Girl, are the typical superhero movie types. They have an arsenal stored in their secret lair and they're each capable of over-the-top Matrix-style fighting that can wipe out a room full of armed thugs in seconds. They even have their own superhero revenge-driven origin story. It's interesting to see Kick-Ass contrast with these "real" superheroes, and his reactions to the hyper-violence of the other heroes seem to parody the absurdity of superhero movies.
Unfortunately, that's about as deep as the movie goes. The themes aren't nearly as engaging as those in Watchmen, in which we explore what superheroes would be like if they really existed and interacted with the timeline of history. Here, the superheroes are either not really superheroes at all (Kick-Ass and Red Mist) or are caricatures (Hit Girl and Big Daddy).
Still, the characters are likable. I found Kick-Ass to be a relatable kid, especially given his Dork Dimension-approved hobby of comic book collecting. Hit Girl was cool in her own right as the star of some of the most dynamic action scenes (which were shot in that 300-style that permeates action movies today). I didn't find the juxtaposition of her youth and her savagery nearly as jarring as Ebert did, though. Does that mean that I "inhabit a world he is so very not interested in"?
I'm not a big fan of the McLovin kid who plays Red Mist in this film. Sure, he was funny in Superbad, but that character is so ubiquitous that the actor's presence in any movie completely draws me out of my suspension of disbelief. He wasn't all that bad here since his character undertakes a substantially different role than those from his other movies. He still exudes a bit too much McLovin for my tastes, though.
I'm also not a big Nick Cage fan, but he totally sold the Big Daddy character. Big Daddy is a multi-faceted dude: his loving fatherly demeanor towards Hit Girl contrasts sharply (and comically) with his borderline brutal training and twisted motives. Also, he hilariously mimics Adam West's Batman while wearing the Big Daddy suit. It's fantastic.
Despite the interesting characters, Kick-Ass isn't as engaging as it needs to be. It just doesn't have the depth to carry the thought-provoking torch started by Watchmen. But the action is certainly awesome and the movie is undeniably funny, so if you're looking for a cool, hyper-violent comedy, this one's for you.