Kick-Ass (Review)

Internet. Viral videos. Jackass. UFC. Violence in video games. DVD. Unrated DVD. Netflix. The rise he horror genre into the mainstream, leading to the need and demand for “more”, as in more gore, more extreme violence, more disturbing material. In short; Torture porn and friends.

A sensationalist media that justifies showing more and more explicit violence and sex by saying “the public have a right to know” but mean “ratings”. Idiots who know this full-well and commit crimes and stunts to take advantage of the inevitable coverage.

And a 55-odd year old guy famous because he hosted MTV 25 years ago tries to inflame the public because an 11 year old actress says “cunts” and kills a bunch of thugs with much computer generated assistance?

The guilty party. “Mummy, what does c*** mean?”

It seems that every couple of years that the media must become aghast at something to show that they genuinely care about greater society. Personally I wish they would shut the fuck up and let people make up their own mind.

I never understood the requirements of MA, kids can attend if accompanied by a parent or responsible adult? Do you really want Dad there when you look at your first 5 ft tall cinematic tittie (assuming you’re the only 15 year old yet to turn Searchsafe off? And which responsible adult is going to take a kid to see Kill Bill when they know it is about someone who kills dozens of people with a big sword?

Either they say you’re ready at 15, or 16, or 18, or you don’t go. After all too many adults haven’t been in touch with reality for decades anyway.

The cinema where I watched Kick-Ass had maybe 30 paying punters, I didn’t really look around until the second half of the film, when a female voice started spouting things like “that’s disgusting” and “That’s enough”. Only my tenuous hold on civility prevented me from saying “Then leave!” in my big boy voice, but I didn’t. When the lights went up I saw four young boys sitting directly behind the lady, all maybe 13/14. I again didn’t bother watching to see if they were with her, but they probably were.

Either way she was an idiot. If she wasn’t with the kids then she was at least ruining the film for many of us. If she was and thought that was her forum to teach them the difference between right and wrong then she was still shitting everyone and showing her ignorance. If she thought she was going to see a Spiderman clone then she was just a fucking moron.

I guarantee that the kids behind bitch-lady enjoyed the film as much, if not more than I did. And I liked it a lot.

You know? I missed real MA films, and Kick-Ass is the first true MA film in quite a while, at least the first released to cinemas.

MA should mean something, only the desensitising of society and the stupidity of people has allowed too many to forget this.

MA should mean more violence, the inclusion of more disturbing storylines into the plot, more “adult concepts” and in short the need for more discretion and consideration before shelling out the $16 for a ticket.

I’m not for a second saying that parent’s shouldn’t take teens to films such as Kick-Ass, after all read the list at the top again. In reality kids today have access to freakier and more violent stuff than their parents ever did. (I know this, when I was 15 I was actively looking for such material, and unless you and the video shop guy had a wink-wink arrangement or older friends or relos you were screwed.) Now DVD, Youtube, a million horror websites and video games make it easier than ever before, they’ve seen worse than the violence on-show in this film, and no doubt heard worse in the schoolyard.

In short, if you take your kids to an MA film and then complain about the content of the film, it’s not society’s fault, IT’S YOURS.

After all that I haven’t even talked about Kick-Ass yet.

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This ain’t your Grandma’s Kick-Ass!

Let me first ask and answer the inevitable question…

Does it?

Yes. Yes it does.

The last movie that was as fun to watch in the cinema (annoying old women aside), was Zombieland (honourable mention Black Dynamite), that’s a while ago. Too long.

Dave Lizewski is a typical teenage boy, and that’s truly unfortunate for him. His mother has already passed on and his dad doesn’t really understand him.  His life revolves around the comic books, the internet and massive bouts of self abuse for the purpose of temporary satisfaction. He isn’t that popular, nor handsome, and he talks with a voice that doesn’t yet seem to have broken.

Dave’s only friends are another couple of near replicas of him named Todd and Marty, who hang around him reading comics in a comic book store, (that seems cleaner and better organised than any I have ever visited). The trio know their limitations and largely talk among themselves, knowing exactly where they fit in the pecking order.

There is an early attempt to reach out to another comic book kid, Chris, played by McLovin’ himself (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) that is cut short in an abrupt (and funny) manner. It turns out that the “spoilt rich kid” is actually the son of a major New York crime figure named Frank D’Amico, whose gang deals in a wide array of shady areas, not least of which is illegal drugs. But now is not the time to be speaking about them.

Also around this time in the film we meet the father/daughter combo known at this stage as the Macready’s. Our introduction comes in a scene where the father (Nicolas Cage) is shooting his daughter in the chest with a handgun from about 20 feet away… (cue the gasps from the audience), to prove to her that even with a bullet proof vest on getting shot hurts. You’d think she might have guessed this already, but being an 11 year old who knows.

Daddy and daughter Macready share a close relationship, it seems that Dad, an ex-cop, favours a “home-school” approach, only with classes being held in weapons training, hand to hand combat, and various other deadly arts. In a hugely elaborate protected room within their house they have amassed a massive deadly arsenal of weapons, and Dad Macready has a painstakingly drawn plan to gain access to, and kill, one Frank D’Amico for the destruction of his family and the death of his wife.

So by this point we have already met the key protagonists to the story, and by now it is largely obvious how certain things will pan out.

But for now, back to Dave…

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Dave does indeed become Kick-Ass, but not because he is bit by a radioactive spider, or exposed to something in an experiment-gone-wrong, or even because the ability is handed down through the generations. Dave becomes Kick-Ass because he is a teen who reads too many comic books, has a vivid imagination, and can’t work out why no-one has done it before him.

Dave also longs for a girl at school who has the locker near his, she is named Katie and she is indeed longable for most 17 year olds, especially those who love comic books and have private tissue parties in their bedrooms. Of course his longings go unrequited, as they must to provide a goal for later in the film.

Back to the origins of Kick-Ass. After ordering the requisite supplies over the net, mainly a wetsuit that looks like no other I have ever seen, especially a mask with eye and mouth holes which I would think impractical when underwater, Dave sets about restoring justice and helping the impoverished and unfortunate… or something.

On his first unplanned “mission” he finds out exactly why not many choose this to be their primary vocation in life, as he manages to get stabbed in the guts and almost dies. Of course partially out of embarrassment, partially due to the superhero creed of not giving up one’s true identity, Dave convinces the paramedics to keep quiet about his lime green scuba suit, and as won’t tell the truth behind his wounds his Dad wonders what the hell he was up to being found naked, bleeding and vulnerable.

While his Dad is pondering the circumstances behind his situation, his schoolmates are openly suggesting reasons, the main conclusion being that he is obviously gay and was bashed after a romantic event gone wrong. Far from being a horrible turn of events this brings Katie into the picture, as she empathises with Dave and has always wanted a gay friend to confide in. Cue the naked back rubs and sleep-overs! Hey even without the sex it is still more than most nerdy 17 year olds would dream of.

Dave decides not to let a little stabbing come between him and super-heroism, and goes back to the “life”. Shortly after he again gets the living shit kicked out of him by a bunch of no-goodniks when he goes to the aid of a bashing victim.

Fortunately this time it occurs right in front of a diner, so there are many witnesses, none of who help but they all film it and whack the footage on Youtube, which (in an increasingly over-used film technique) becomes an overnight viral sensation. (An added side-effect to having multiple screws and plates inserted to various broken bones and shattered limbs is that Dave becomes largely impervious to most low level pain, which he will utilise to greater effect later.)

Kick-Ass has not only gone mainstream, but he has a Facebook page and hundreds of thousands of admirers and substantial media coverage. This becomes a talking point at the comic book store and the school, and when Katie professes her desire to ask Kick-Ass for help in solving her own dilemma Dave urges her to get in touch so he can provide that more personal assistance and hopefully get some “Spiderman-style luvin’”.

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I’ll digress here and summarise the ensuing events.

In solving Katie’s problem (which in itself makes no sense that a wholesome 17 year old girl would have ties to a low level violent criminal but moving on…) Kick-Ass inadvertently steps on the toes of highly trained vigilantes (note: NOT superheroes), Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, who wear similarly ludicrous outfits but can back it up with combat skills and a willingness to get reallll down and dirty with their foes. The opening Hit-Girl scene alone leaves about 6 bodies to clean up.

Bu now we can guess who the two new masked avengers are and what they are doing, unfortunately Kick-Ass is given credit for their deeds and Frank D’Amico takes things personally and swears that he will have Kick-Ass’s ass! (?)

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The remainder of the film follows the 3 costumed heroes, Kick-Ass as he realises that this may not be the life for him, especially once he comes to grips with the reality of superheroism and the violence it demands, and Hit-Girl and Big Daddy as they move gradually closer to their ultimate goal, (special mention must go to Big-Daddy’s in-character Adam West era-Batman speech pattern, hilariously terrible). Along the way a new hero enters the frame, that being Red Mist, who has cooler toys than Kick-Ass, and more followers on Facebook!

Of course being a film the finale finds a way that they can all be in close proximity when the shit hits the fan, and without giving too much away the last 10 minutes of Kick-Ass really do… and they will have every guy in the audience saying at least once “I want one of those”.

And no I am not referring to Katie this time.

Kick-Ass is wantonly and gleefully violent, often very funny and even though the computer generated stuff near the end appears pretty cheap and nasty it looks great most of the time.

I definitely think this is one film that demands a sequel, and can’t wait to see how they follow it up, as the problem with most unheralded films is finding a way to capture what worked in the first film without it being too forced. (I watched the Iron Man 2 trailer before this film and have grave concerns that they can pull this off.)

It has been a while since I labelled a new release film with “Great” status after just one viewing. For having the balls to try to do something very new, and for fully embracing violence and action once more I am happy to bestow that title on Kick-Ass.

Final Rating – 8.5 / 10. Funny, violent, stylish and fresh. A lot more than a little girl killing people while swearing, (but yes that too).

And to think that because of the media everyone who won’t watch this film will only ever know it as the one where a little girl says the c-word.

(Realistically I can’t see where the problem is. 11 year old girls won’t see this movie unless an idiot adult or irresponsible parent lets them. Assuming they do though, while 11 year olds are impressionable I don’t think many will think “Yes I want to swear and kill people”. And for the young dudes, do you really think a 16 year old boy is going to wish they were an 11 year old girl? Aren’t they more likely to take Hellboy or Batman, or even Freddy Kruger as a role model? Finally the parents, if you take a young kid to this and are shocked when you hear swearing and see violence then you are the idiot!)

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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