Rating: 5 out of 5
There used to be two distinct kinds of comic-book movies. One was the obvious big-budget mass-production of capes-and-tights superhero/sci-fi fare.
Then there were arty comic-book movies you had no idea were even based on comic-books. Earnestly realistic, high-concept stuff like Ghost World, Road to Perdition and A History of Violence come to mind.
Then fairly recently, a third kind of comic-book movie cropped up, a brash blend of the two, distilling the adult themes of the latter and fusing it with the action-adventure tropes of the former – movies about the demythification of the traditional superhero.
Attaching real-world grounding to superhero myths is nothing new in comic-books. The Watchmen famously did so over two decades ago. Hollywood just took a while to catch up.
Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass stems from that proud lineage and in live-action terms, Kick-Ass gloriously succeeds where the big-screen adaptation of The Watchmen so horrendously failed.
Kick-Ass is an over-the-top, ultra-violent, ultra-profane, story of lonely teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). As Dave exemplifies, it doesn’t take “a radioactive spider or refugee status from an alien world” to be a superhero, just delusions of grandeur and pathetic boredom.
Misguidedly, Dave dons a wetsuit purchased online and tries to fight crime as a costumed vigilante. The results as you can imagine, are fairly disastrous.
As a masked hero calling himself Kick-Ass, Dave gets his ass kicked (brutally) and very nearly killed, not once but... well, several times. The second time he tries being hero, his awkward but brave exploits are caught on camera and uploaded onto YouTube, making him an instant Internet phenomenon.
This inspires the creation of a strange new sub-culture of people dressing up as superheroes in everyday life. Some (like Hit-Girl and Big Daddy) take it more seriously than others, leaving the criminal underworld exasperated and embarrassed to be continually undermined by nerds in Halloween costumes.
Kick-Ass is brilliant at offending you. Gasp as cute little Chloe Moretz spouts lines so hilariously obscene (when she’s not busy creatively mass-murdering gangsters) that would make even Kevin Smith blush. Hit-Girl is exactly like The Bride in Kill Bill, just pint-sized.
Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) masterfully constructs delightful action sequences that combine the stylistic panache of Quentin Tarantino with the grimy grittiness of Michael Mann. I’ve long thought highly of Vaughn (he’s everything Guy Ritchie wishes he could be) since Layer Cake; Kick-Ass is undoubtedly his crime-story magnum opus.
The script makes a couple of significant deviations from the comic-book but the changes are crucial improvements. Some stuff that works well on page just doesn’t translate well onscreen (Zack Snyder, please get your head around this!) and Kick-Ass adroitly takes the best and makes up the rest.
Kick-Ass is so magnificently demented and full of audacious bravura that it’s destined to become a cultural touchstone. This is sheer unadulterated kick-ass brilliance.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.
Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.