Monday, 5 April 2010

Kick-Ass

Dave Lizewski is a typical teenage boy who wonders why no-one has ever put on a costume and become a superhero in real life. Therefore, he puts on a wet suit and becomes Kick-Ass, who becomes an internet phenomenon but is better at getting his ass kicked than kicking anyone else's ass. However, he soon finds himself caught in the middle of an ongoing battle between real superheroes Big Daddy and Hit Girl and local crime boss Frank D'Amico, and after being betrayed by Red Mist, Frank D'Amico's son Chris, it's down to him to save the day.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to comic books and graphic novels, but I like to think I have a bit more knowledge than most, hence why I can recognise 'Kick-Ass' not just as the everyman superhero movie, but as an homage the superhero genre and to its influences. The number of Batman, Superman and Watchmen references hidden in the film, clear or unclear, were numerous by the end, including the last line read by 'Red Mist': "Wait 'til they get a load of me" - Not just a line leaving the franchise open to a sequel, but one of The Joker's famous lines from Tim Burton's 'Batman'. As far as homages go, this is a hell of a tribute to the superhero/comic book genre.

This film is so refreshingly entertaining because it's so different to the usual comic book movie, but then, the source material itself is so entirely different to the usual comic cook fodder, hence why 'Kick-Ass' is making the impact it is, much in the same way 'Watchmen' did just a year ago. Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass is a great fit for the role, he really is convincing as the awkward, all-American geeky teenage boy, showing his versatility as an actor after his great performance as John Lennon in 'Nowhere Boy' just a few short months ago.

As I'm sure you all know now, this film is all about Big Daddy and Hit Girl aka Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz. From their introduction in the film, where Cage shoots Moretz twice in an abandoned swimming pool, to their giddy excitement about receiving a jet pack with 2 Gatling guns attached, they absolutely steal the show. Nicolas Cage puts in a great performance as Big Daddy, a performance I haven't seen from him since 'Matchstick Men'. He just seems genuinely pleased to have such a great role and delights in it after appearing in so many run-of-the-mill films like 'The Wicker Man', 'Bangkok Dangerous' and 'The Knowing'. You can see a lot of Elvis in his performance, as well as a lot of Adam West's Batman - another hark back to the superhero homage of the film itself.

Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman have done a great job of adapting the comic book onto the big screen whilst also making it approachable for all sections of the audience - You cover the chick flick fans with the romance between Dave and Katie, you cover the action fans with the big, violent fight scenes, you cover the comic book fans with the cool super heroes and you cover everyone else with the witty dialogue and fantastic action scenes. To me, it almost feels like you're watching an extended, super hero version of 'Freaks and Geeks', a cult TV show from 1999, especially during the final battle when Hit Girl is at D'Amico's headquarters battling with D'Amico's henchmen with Joan Jett's 'Bad Reputation' playing in the background.

Overall, I say believe the hype. This is a really good, engrossing, hilarious two hours that's well worth the price of admission. It's not as good as 'Watchmen', which I believe to be the ultimate superhero film, and it's a shame because it was always going to lead to comparisons to 'Watchmen' with both of them being so anti-establishment comic books, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. A few years ago, this would have been seen as a perfect superhero film. Unfortunately, 'Watchmen' raised the bar so high, 'Kick-Ass' can only ever be seen to try and match it. Don't get me wrong though - This is still the best film of the year so far.

Rating: ****1/2