Kick-Ass Movie Review – Kick-Ass kicks some ass

„And I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation”

Go watch Kick Ass! This movie kicks some serious ass. And sorry for the bad pun we all read thousand times already. (And be warned from heavy spoilers (see red flag besides the title if you’re reading this on my site)).

Kick-Ass is a comedy. But it’s not a spoof. And I am so glad for that because I am so fucking sick of this crap. The makers of Kick-Ass (which in fact also is a comic book author himself, Mark Millar, who created the comic source material) know this because this movie doesn’t make stupid fun of all things being super in kind we learned to hate from the late Leslie Nielsen movies or the other unbelievably bad spoof movies that came out in the last years.

No, Kick-Ass (and hence the comic book, but let me pretend there isn’t one) isn’t a spoof movie but a homage with a wink. Kick-Ass is brimming with the motifs and themes we know and love from the comic books and comic book adaptations – but gives all that stuff its own twists and updates. It’s like a more serious version of The Incredibles. And both work.

kick-ass-01

Hello, my name is Peter Parker...not! I am just a comic book geek who tries to be a superhero without having some plot armor to save my ass.

For example, who in today’s time needs the Daily Bugle of the Spiderman universe when you have YouTube, Facebook and Myspace. Who needs that old stuff when everyone around you already films you being beaten up and then uploads that stuff to YouTube? And who needs the Daily Bugle when you can create your own superhero profile in the internet? I so can relate to that notion and in hindsight I see what I was missing in the superhero movies: it’s the internet for crying out loud!

Dave Lizeswski, our main hero who later becomes the titular “Kick-Ass”, doesn’t live in a sterile world in which those services seemingly don’t exist – quite the contrary. Even better, Kick-Ass uses our world as a template in which comic books are everywhere.

And this guy knows comic books in and out, and they are his inspiration. Not some fucking trauma or a mutation (about he even makes some fun of). Just comic books. Moreover, at the beginning of Kick-Ass Dave asks the completely reasonable question of why nobody ever tried to be a superhero like we all know from the comic books. You know, it could be possible and there should be at least one guy like that out there, isn’t it? That’s the main hook of the movie. And, well, the movie immediately gives its answer to that question in a harsh way by letting some idiot fall off a skyscraper which tells us “because it’s fucking unrealistic and impossible.”

But who gives a damn?

Certainly Dave doesn’t and so he tries to become a superhero after being unable to defend himself from some no name robbers. The movie doesn’t ridicule his passion or his path. It more or less follows his awkward journey filled with awkward moments and awkward people.

Dave doesn’t go through his path to heroism without problems….okay let me rephrase that: he simply fails miserably almost all the time. His first attempt ends up in a disaster and later on he doesn’t even come close to the heroes he loves until the very end of the movie. But that’s absolutely plausible because the guys he goes against are hard core badasses. He doesn’t have a chance. And he knows that very well. He knows he is stupid and risks his life. He isn’t crazy or delusional. But he simply decided to outpower the stupid system with even more effort. But he also learns the hard truth of his inaptitude the hard way when the eleven year old Hit-Girl (WTF!) and her father enter the scene. And boy do they kick some ass. But Dave grows from those experiences. I cheered for that guy who is normal but not a total loser. And I cheered for that guy because he in a way truly was a superhero. Anyone with super powers can fight bad guys. That’s not difficult. But when you are a normal dude with some metal in your body (a nice homage to X-Men and Wolverine) it’s something completely different.

What would you do if you encountered someone dressed as him? I certainly would make some photos, call the police and then remind myself til my death to never be that stupid...

What would you do if you encountered someone dressed as him? I certainly would make some photos, call the police and then remind myself til my death to never be that stupid as him...

As I already mentioned, Kick-Ass takes the well known formulas and twists and updates them in many ways: we see a transformation scene from normal person to superhero like we know from Superman – only it doesn’t happen in a phone booth but in an elevator…which also makes way more sense to me. We also have the final sequence of Spiderman here when he swings through the city of New York, only this time with rocket boosters. We get Batman, only this time he really is nasty and kills without hesitation. We get even a nice homage to The Matrix. We also get an important twist to the well known line in Spiderman “with power comes responsibility” by being transformed to “with no power comes no responsibility”. And more stuff like that.

I am not that of a comic book reader so I don’t know if that happens somewhere in them (which I presume did – with the exception of the comic book source material by Mark Millar. Boy this complicates everything more than I like) but there is a fucking awesome moment at the end of Kick-Ass after the dust has settled and the last heroes are standing in front of a setting sun. Up to that moment both Hit-Girl and Kick Ass only know their superhero impersonations and names (more or less). Hit-Girl has witnessed some really cruel stuff in the last hours so Dave goes all out, removes his mask and tells her his real name. It’s not the superhero – normal guy of revelation but superhero – superhero. And after all we saw in this movie it’s a gesture that tells so much. It tells the little girl “I am here for you” and I was fucking cheering.

You can laugh if you want, but while watching Kick-Ass I sometimes had the impression that the producers and writers not only know comic books in and out but also manga and anime. You know, the moment I described above is something I started to expect from anime and not from Hollywood (watch Fooly Cooly to see what I mean). It’s normal for anime and manga to have those somehow cheesy moments they nevertheless manage to pull off perfectly. Moreover, Kick-Ass uses the comedy formula of Japan which I also was missing from Hollywood: be fucking hilarious most of the time but also fucking serious when needed (again, watch Fooly Cooly to see what I mean). You can correct me if I’m wrong since I am not that versed with comic books (with the exception of the comic book source material…) but to me Kick-Ass is a perfect blend of western and eastern comics and series and movies. By the way: if there’s one single evidence to prove my point it’s the getup of Hit-Girl before the final shoot out. Seriously, this comes as close to anime and manga as it can.

hit-girl-being-anime

Who want be anime chick? Me?

In this movie people die, they die bloody and sometimes they die horribly. It’s not some fucking sterile Hollywood take on violence, but – when I think about it – again the anime way (and the comic book). BEYOND RED HEAVY SPOILER START For example, after Hit-Girl’s father (Big daddy) and Kick-Ass are caught by the bad guys, they not only are almost beaten to death. No the bad guys want to burn them alive – and they succeed with Big Daddy after a shoot out starts. But even during his pain he gives instructions to his girl so she can kill all those nasty bastards, before dying in her arms. This moment is serious, it’s horrible to see and they spare us nothing. There is not one single hint of a spoof movie here which takes such moments silly. No, the moment is serious to the bone. BEYOND RED HEAVY SPOILER END

Another thing I love about this movie is the growing love relationship between Dave and Katie. Katie starts off as the usual “beautiful bitch of the school” kind of girl. You know, the usual stuff. Then we learn she loves to hang out with gays. Guess what? Dave thinks “that’s better than nothing” and pretends to be just that.

So funny and so totally formulaic.

Later in the movie she kinda “confesses” to him that it’s too bad he’s gay. He goes “oh shit, now what”. Because of that Dave later in the movie grows some balls and “confesses” to her by telling he’s not gay. I already thought to me “oh noooo, please don’t do the usual romantic comedy shit of boy finding girl, loosing girl and getting girl by the end of the flick”.

Well, that’s exactly what happens.

In ten seconds.

She is angry….somehow. For ten seconds. He wants to go, and she takes the initiative. One minute later they kiss. Then it gets totally cool because the movie twists the usual formula again by being realistic and letting Dave go for her breasts immediately. Then it twists yet again because she’s not “oh my god what are you doing?” I expected but “yeah, baby, go for them, squeeze them , fondle them!”. I was so cheering in my seat.

And then it twists again a little bit by showing us that they really are hot for each other. They kiss in public (which also means she doesn’t fucking care what others are thinking about her dating a geek – I was cheering) and they cannot talk to each other without wanting to fuck their brains out of each other. And they promptly do just that in the backstreet of their beloved comic book store after pretending to go to the cinema. Seriously, I so was cheering because this was not the usual sterile l-shaped sheet style shit we so know from Hollywood in which we see them loving each other in wonderfully montage images in slow motion I so came to hate. No, here we see two teenagers who are hot for each other and they show it and do it. Kudos to the makers for pulling that one off almost perfectly.

Hey Mr. Badguy meet me, Mr. Kick Ass, and my sidekick Hit Girl who in fact is moe my master and the only one who really kicks some ass. i'll be sitting in the corner then...

Hey Mr. Badguy meet me, Mr. Kick Ass, and my sidekick Hit Girl who in fact is the main hero here and the only one who really kicks some ass. I'll be sitting in the corner then...

Besides everything I mentioned above Kick Ass of course doesn’t take the original stuff too seriously. But even better the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can see this in full bliss in one of the coolest moments I’ve seen in a long time which is the battle scene near the end. You know, the usual big finale kind of thing. Hit-Girl goes all out in Matrix and Kill Bill style in the coolest way possible with pulling off stunts even Jackie Chan would be proud of. But what lifts this scene to the heavens is the fact that during all this shooting we listen to “Bad reputation”. It’s cool. It’s hilarious. It’s bloody. It cannot get better than this.

Now that I think about it Kick-Ass can be perfectly compared to Hot Fuzz I’ve seen some years before. Both movies start rather slow with introducing characters and paying a nice, subtle homage to the originals…okay, Kick Ass very often isn’t subtle at all. Nevertheless both movies constantly increase their speed and the awesome level before going all out in the final act with some fucking hilarious moments. It works in both cases although in Kick Ass you already get some cool action moments before that.

Kick-Ass is funny. Kick-Ass is serious with a true sensibility for the characters and the setting. Kick-Ass is a movie from guys who know their stuff and didn’t stop with the easy way of simply spoofing stuff. It almost feels like a movie that could have come from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.

Sorry for the bad pun but Kick-Ass really kicks some ass. If you’re even slightly interested in comic books, cool action movies or comedies with a brain give Kick-Ass a chance and watch it.

Rating
One of the best summer movies of 2010.

Leave a reply