Friday, August 6, 2010

Kick-Ass - 4/5

I sort of feel bad for those of you out there that went to see "Kick-Ass" or are going to see it based on the previews for it. This film is an entirely different beast. Although I was never privy to the comics that this film is based on, I am a fan of Ritchie protege Matthew Vaughn and generally expected what this film would end up being. That is a truly kick ass experience with odd moments of dark humor and a slightly (okay, you got me) extensive dark streak that may offend just a few out there. Luckily, here at Blood Brothers, offended is our middle name and comic book movies are part of the game.

Dave Lizweski (Johnson) is your average high school comic book nerd. He pines for the girl in the locker next to him. He talks about irrelevant things with his friends. He gets mugged more often than not. Then one day, he decides that enough is enough and with a scuba suit and a couple of sticks, he becomes Kick-Ass, New York's newest vigilante crime fighter with a MySpace. With a renewed sense of justice, Dave goes about taking a beating from a variety of thugs enough that he actually seems to make a difference. When he starts encroaching on grounds run by a mafia hauncho (Strong) he has to team up with some 'real' masked avengers Big Daddy (Cage) and his daughter Hit Girl (Moretz) to just stay alive.

Although "Kick-Ass" does come off as tongue planted firmly in comic book cheek more often than not, its bright colors and witty dialogue are rather a surface to the darker sides of this off beat comedy with extensive (and rather violent) action sequences. This dark and rather offensive side of the film is displayed in full even in the opening sequence as we see a man dressed in a superhero bird costume dive off a building and smash to his death on a taxi cab. Yeah, this movie loves to play on these comic book like stereotypes and thrust them firmly into a realistic canvas that will have you cringe as much as laugh. Luckily, the balance of intense nature of the darkness that bubbles underneath the rather basic plot line straight from a comic is pretty unique and impressive. Definitely making this film a blast to watch if you know what you're getting into.

Adding to the already disturbing fun of the film is a cast that plays it so seriously it almost seems the joke. A rather fitting Johnson really works as our connection to this world as Dave/Kick-Ass and his friends work quite well around him. Even the supporting cast seem in on the joke as Strong, getting into his villain role more often than not now, gives the film an uneasy modern mafia edge and of course, Cage and Moretz as the dysfunctional father/daughter team Big Daddy and Hit Girl. This latter duo makes you wonder about the role of father's and what we teach our children can actually be all the while as we laugh hilariously at the ridiculousness of what they do together. Who really gets their pre-teen daughter a couple of butterfly knives for her birthday only to quiz them on the weights and calibers of automatic weapons right after? Its disturbing, but also quite funny.

If you go into "Kick-Ass" expecting a more family friendly comic comedy that will just be off the wall then prepare to be shocked. This film is dark and even more violent than one would expect from the trailers. The slick directing from up and coming Matthew Vaughn ably displays how the comics and real world collide in this film and with a cast and plot that seemingly take the disturbing in stride with the witty dialogue, it just makes "Kick-Ass" one of the best balanced comedies of the year. Definitely not for the kids though. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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