Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kick-Ass (Movie Review)

Although I’m a huge comic book fan, I never got around to reading the original comic book version of “Kick Ass”, so I can’t review this movie from that perspective, only on its own merits. And this movie merits a ton of praise.

The story centers on a shy high school geek who decides that the best way to attract girls and attain meaning for his life is to dress up in a costume and fight street crime as the superhero “Kick-Ass”.

The movie starts out feeling like a small, quirky, high school comedy with a healthy dose of realism regarding the practicalities of trying to be a superhero in the real world. But little by little, the movie has more money thrown at it until it becomes a hugely explosive action-fest in the last third of the film.

A number of other heroes and villains enter the story and help to flesh out a small but interesting “comic book world”. The movie does not seriously attempt to create a realistic depiction of superheroes in the real world, but contains far more realism than any mainstream superhero movie.

The performances are a strong part of this movie. Aaron Johnson plays the title roll and it fits him like a glove. His awkward personality and breaking voice made me forget I was watching an actor many times. Nicolas Cage flexes both comedic and dramatic muscles well enough to make me literally both laugh and cry. (He also has some really cool superhero moments!)

The actor I walked away most curious about was 11 year old Chloe Moretz, who played the ninja-like “Hit Girl”. Her acting chops are very good for her age and she pulled off some incredible action choreography, not counting what may or may not have been handled by a stunt double.

The song selection in the soundtrack of this movie is very clever and added to the already brilliant execution of the visual material in a way that made me want to jump up and applaud. Not since “Iron Man” have I had this much fun watching a movie in the theater.

The action is fun and at times crazy-cool in the way it is choreographed and displayed. In more than one scene I laughed out loud for the sheer joy of watching the action unfold.

The story is funny, but also very touching at times. Of particular interest is the relationship between Hit Girl and Big Daddy. Although their introduction is strange and off-beat, as their back-story is revealed their subplot becomes a very touching part of the movie’s core.

I have to shave a little off my score for this film for the use of some brief, sexually themed humor that was a little overstated and wasn’t necessary for the kind of story being told.

Justice is the undercurrent of this movie, although it never quite makes it to the surface as a purposeful theme. Still, the problem of evil is presented well and it is extremely satisfying to see the bad guys get their due.

What I thought would be a fun, quirky little movie turned out to be a fun, emotionally involving, intense and funny ride with some added thrills and extremely cool action that I never expected to see.

Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use - some involving children

Quality: 9.5/10

Relevance: 8.0/10

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