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After rejecting the directing duties for X-Men: the Last Stand and missing out on Thor, Matthew Vaughn, director of the great gangster film Layer Cake and the fun fantasy romp Stardust, finally has his chance to direct a mainstream comic-book film with Kick-Ass. He shows his talent once again, making a live action comic and a parody of superheroes and comics while honouring them at same time.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a typical New York teenager. He is slightly nerdy, not in any particular high school clique and invisible to girls, including Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), the girl he fancies. But he harbours a strange ambition: he wants to be a superhero — despite the fact he has no powers, training or technology. After an accident when starting out as a superhero, Dave’s nerve endings are shot and he ends up having a high pain threshold. After saving a man from a beating and fighting three men at once he becomes an internet sensation, and his alter-ego Kick-Ass is born.
But as Kick-Ass Dave gets in over his head as he ends up meeting two real heroes, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his young daughter and expert assassin Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). They are on a mission to take down the crime lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), dismantling his organization from the bottom up and Kick-Ass is thrown into the mix.
This is a comic book film which has updated the genre to the modern age. It’s extremely violent and it shows how someone might go about becoming a superhero, using the Internet as a tool.
Kick-Ass plays pretty much as a parody of comic book films, especially the first Spider-Man. Aaron Johnson’s performance is even like Tobey Maguire’s as Peter Parker, having a similar voice and dealing with similar issues. He is not just a teen battling his alter-ego, however. He’s also forced to deal with typical issues, like when his beloved Katie thinks he is gay.
Vaughn has been an expert assembling casts in his previous films and does it again with Kick-Ass. Cage, a known superhero fan, missing out on the chance to play both Iron Man and Superman and ended up having to play Ghost Rider. In Kick-Ass, Cage has one of his best roles as a deranged dad who trained his daughter from the age of four to be the ultimate assassin. Strong plays a sinister villain, but this time as someone who is cracking, becoming more violent throughout the film. The Sherlock Holmes star is slowly clearing way in Hollywood at the tender age of 47.
But the real star out of the supporting cast is Moretz as the foul-mouthed 11-year-old assassin who is hard as nails but also at times a sweet-natured girl. Moretz is wonderfully game at balancing the two characteristics. Her character and her performance rate among the most entertaining in a film this year.
Vaughn’s direction is fantastic, making a live action comic book with great success, down to minor details like using comic book-style writing. It’s especially impressive compared to Ang Lee who sadly tried and failed to use comic book panels in the first Hulk movie. Vaughn makes a colorful action film with both dark and physical comedy and he proves that parody films can be done with the love of the genre it’s lampooning. Kick-Ass is an ultra-violent, action-packed film with laugh out loud moments throughout and excellent action sequences, the best with Hit-Girl and her wide arsenal of weapons. From his origins producing Guy Ritchie’s first two films, Vaughn is showing himself to be one of the hottest up-and-coming directors around. Vaughn exemplifies how an action sequence should be edited and even employs a Spider-Man sounding score, which adds the feeling of its appreciation for that film.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Mark Millar (Comic Book)
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Other Player Affinity Reviews:
Steven thought: “Perhaps “Kick-Ass” creator Mark Millar went overboard on the geek daydream by fusing as closely as possible both the world of classic comic fantasy and contemporary realism, but fans who hold the genre dear will convert easily to his wavelength and consequently will enjoy “Kick-Ass” far more than anyone else. The movie plays as both ode to and satire of the genre it holds dear, which is by far its greatest attribute. Charged with bringing this superhero film for superhero-lovers to life, director Matthew Vaughn determines when he wants you to take “Kick-Ass” seriously and when he doesn’t. As part spoof on the genre, he uses some clichéd techniques, but then to reflect Millar’s choice to take the story down a darker more serious path, he’ll pick a technique that makes you realize the writing goes above and beyond where the plot of most spoofs go. Those who don’t feel a connection to the genre will still find things to like about “Kick-Ass,” but will see it at face entertainment value, not as an homage to Hollywood’s most powerful storytelling form in the last decade.” Rating: 8/10
Dinah Thought: “There is no other way to say it, Kick Ass straight kicked ass. Besides the boisterous action and original story, the movie won in its character portrayals. Hit Girl, the tiny pigtailed assassin, predictably steals the show, a win for young actress Chloe Moretz. Nicolas Cage’s excessive idiosyncrasies were reigned in for character Big Daddy. He managed to play both endearing and unaffected as he raises his daughter and seeks righteous bloody revenge. The film wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny but it had the type of malicious humor that puts a satisfied grin on your face. The music, styling, and editing were notable though not quite to the level of similar endeavors Sin City or Kill Bill. Most noticeable were the enrapturing color scheme, costuming, and methods of bloodletting. The creators of Kick-Ass know it takes more than shots fired from a handgun to put fanboys on their feet in ovation.” Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.3/10