Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kick-Ass: DVD Review

Kick-Ass was an important step in the evolution of the geek wish fulfillment fantasy industry. What this film said to comic book fans, the driving force behind the superhero movie industry, was: “You own us anyway, so why don’t we give you a starring role.” Thus, you get nerdy, nondescript Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) putting on a silly green costume and heading out to fight crime as self-titled superhero Kick-Ass. After a video of him barely fending off some thugs goes viral, he becomes famous. Soon, for reasons that barely register, the mob is gunning for him.

When this movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn and based on Mark Millar’s comic of the same name, released in 2010, it caused a stir because of its un-PG-13 tendencies. Until then, even darker comic book movies had kept a lid on cussing and violence. Kick-Ass ripped that convention apart by giving its youngest character, a more capable superhero called Hit Girl (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz), a foul mouth and a capacity for creative bloodshed last seen in Uma Thurman’s Bride from Kill Bill. The scene where Hit Girl takes out a mini army in a hallway, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “Bad Reputation” playing in the background, was as guilty a pleasure as Hollywood provided that year.

Kick-Ass is best digested as a nasty-minded, kinetic piece of entertainment (Vaughn’s past work has been in the same vein; he directed the gangster flick Layer Cake, and was producer on Snatch). Yet, there’s something not quite right about a film which celebrates average school-going geeks as superheroes and yet excludes a majority of them from its audience (the film was released with an R-rating). Vaughn’s next directing job was X-Men: First Class, an entertaining summer flick, sure, but as conventional as they come. So much for rattling the cage. 

This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.


Maximus said...

Loved your piece as always, thought of sharing a few observations of my own as well.

I think Nicholas Cage's character as the Big Daddy (if i am not mistaken) was also a break away from the traditional - superheroes mentor mode.
The movie was truly a step ahead in the geek superhero genre. Most of the Superhero movies today (recently saw The Amazing Spiderman) as well are working on dishing out a very old formula - the emphatically good boy - going Marginally selfish before turning to their ture calling. In that sense the movie was definitely different.

a fan apart said...

Thanks Maximus. There were certainly aspects that marked - and continue to mark - Kick-Ass as different (within the genre framework). My main problem with it - and this is a personal grouse - was that it left a very bad taste in the mouth. I thought the film was quite mean towards its own characters, a practice that I, as a viewer, find quite off-putting.