Kick-Ass Review

Stars: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicholas Cage
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: August 3, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Dave Lizewski is just a normal kid. His only super power is being invisible to girls. He’s never crossed paths with a radioactive spider, never been subjected to intense bursts of gamma radiation, and he doesn’t have mutant DNA. That’s because those things are pretty much impossible. But Dave Lizewski doesn’t think that putting on a mask and helping people has to be impossible. It’s this blend of naiveity and optimism that turns him into the first hero of his kind in the film Kick-Ass.
Based on the hyper-violent comic book created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski’s transformation from normal teenager to normal teenager with a mask. When a scuffle with some thugs is caught on video and posted to the web, it quickly goes viral. Web stardom leads to an inbox filled with requests for help and suddenly Dave, portrayed by relative newcomer Aaron Johnson, is doing hero work, albeit dangerous hero work for your average everyday teen. There’s always safety in numbers though, and Kick-Ass quickly finds himself forming a tenuous alliance with fellow heroes Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage), Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) in an effort to take down mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
Director/Producer/Writer Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) shows his chops here as he lifts John Romita Jr’s images off the comic page and translates them onto the big screen with an uncanny knack for capturing the artist’s original vision. Some scenes, namely the introduction, is almost perfectly frame by frame. In fact, the only thing separating the film from its source material at times is the fidelity of the images. Where Romita inserted a fair amount of grittiness into the comic, Vaughn counters with the same slick production seen in many comic book movies over the past decade. Vaughn toes the line between campy and ghastly and uses the behavior of the characters and the over the top violence that follows their actions, to temper the brightly colored, overly-stylized production and Hollywood feel.
The biggest source of all this gritty violence is little Mindy Macready, a ten-year-old who goes by the name of Hit-Girl. Chloe Moretz, of the upcoming vampire flick Let Me In, steals the scene here with her interpretation of a little girl who would rather play with butterfly knives than dolls. As Dave Lizewski puts it in the comic, “She’s like John Rambo meets Polly Pocket.”
The rest of the cast turn in above average performances as well, especially Mark Strong who makes his role as Frank D’Amico the transition between last year’s Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes and next year’s turn as Sinestro in the upcoming Green Lantern. It’s no wonder he keeps landing these roles- he makes an excellent antagonist.
As hard as it may be to believe, the film doesn’t quite live up to the buckets of blood Millar and Romita Jr. put on display in the graphic novel. There’s still plenty to go around here, and when coupled with copious amounts of strong language and some sexual situations, Kick-Ass is rated an unapologetic R. The slight tweak in the amount of gore isn’t the only departure Matthew Vaughn and co. take from the source material either. While the main story arc is left predominately untouched, purists may get their feathers ruffled in the way some events unfold and slight differences to minor plot points.
There’s not much to get excited about as far as bonus features on the disc. Aside from a 20 minute interview with the comic’s creators, you’re mostly treated to a bunch of storyboards and marketing materials. The director’s commentary track, if you’re into that sort of thing, is your typical casserole of interesting tidbits and soul crushing boredom. Extras aside, the film is good enough on its own to warrant a purchase whether you’re into comics, comic movies or action movies. You’re going to want to get in on the ground floor too. After Vaughn wraps his current project, X-Men: First Class, production on Kick-Ass 2 begins.
Still not convinced? Well, the name of the movie is Kick-Ass. It would be a really bold move if they named it that and it wasn’t, kick-ah.. uh well, you know.. a pretty good movie.

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