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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Early Review: KICK-ASS

It's been a very long time since I've seen a movie that so 100 percent succeeds in exactly what it wants to be.

Kick-Ass is a movie that is extremely difficult to put into one category. On one hand, it's a tender tale about your average high school guy who just wants that girl to notice him. On another hand, it's a super hero tale and all of its necessary subplots; revenge, loss, agony, and victory. And then again it's as gory as any Tarantino film around.

I didn't read the comic. But as everyone who reads my posts should know, I am not a fan of comparing movies to the things they were based on. If it works as a movie, it's fine with me. And Kick-Ass certainly works. I enjoyed almost every single minute of this completely original and fantastically acted tale.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) sits in a cafe with his friends (Clark Duke and Evan Peters) one day, and wonders aloud why that with all the millions upon millions of people who have loved super heros, and wanted to be them, no one has actually tried it. Don't you think at least someone would have tried to become one? This question plagues Dave. He's your classic comic book character who is afflicted with that ever important question: can one man make a difference?

So he decides to find out. He orders a wet suit online, modifies it, and soon enough he is parading around his neighborhood as Kick-Ass, a real life superhero. He stands up to muggers, looks for lost cats, and in one incredibly powerful scene, he defends a guy getting attacked. Soon enough though, he is drawn into a world he is not ready for.

A world that would realistically react to the rising of a teenage superhero.

The single greatest thing about this movie is how it handles the idea of someone actually trying to become a superhero. He faces realistic challenges and the film does a great job of painting that picture. Director Matthew Vaughn really nailed this movie. I was a fan of his previous films Stardust and L4yer Cake, and this easily sits as my favorite of his films.

As much as I would love to say that the music in this film was fantastic, I cannot, simply because the early screening I got to attend had unfinished music and just recycled scores from Danny Elfman's Batman, and Spider-Man, and Steve Jablonsky's The Island. I'm a fan of composer Ilan Eshkeri and I'm hoping he brings just as exciting and refreshing a take on a super hero as the movie is.

Again, this cast rocks. Aaron Johnson, a relative newcomer, is bound for glory. He's so outrageously likable that even when he's being an asshole, you love him. His voice, which we are lucky enough to hear as narration is incredibly endearing. Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (It's fantastic to see him play a fresh character), and Chloe Moretz all shine.
Clark Duke especially steals some laughs with his ever impeccable sense of timing. I simply cannot get enough of that guy.

However, even with all these elements pounding with greatness, I cannot give this movie a 5. There's a couple things it needs to be one of our all-time greats.

First of all, this movie is absurdly violent. And don't get me wrong, I'm a dude. I have no problem with that. I love violence. Movies like 300 and Watchmen really get me going. BUT, the real issue for me with this movie is the death of dozens of innocent people by the hand of someone unexpected. Maybe it's just me, but I feel very uncomfortable watching innocent people die. If they get the ever-loving tar kicked out of them, fine. But death? It just made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it's supposed to.

My second gripe is that while this movie hints at, and even shows some fantastic scenes of heart and tenderness, it falls just a bit short of the amount I wanted. If it had the amount Adventureland, for example, had then this movie would have been golden. Dave's character is just filled with so much tenderness and likability for it to go without being fully explored.

But that's it. While a 4 may seem a bit harsh, I can't bring myself to give it a 5. However, please, do yourself a favor, and when this movie is released, SEE IT. It's refreshing, it's funny, and it's sweet. It also has some of the best action sequences around.

In the end, this movie is nothing short of Kick-Ass.

4 stars

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