SXSW Film '10 — Kick-Ass

At the risk of treading the same ground as every other hack movie critic come this time in April, Kick-Ass is just plain kick ass.

I’m sorry, but there is just no better way to sum up the general attitude, atmosphere and execution of Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s comic book.

While liberties were had with the storyline and some changes are better executed then others, the movie, as a stand-alone project, succeeds in what it set out to do: tell an off-beat superhero story about a loser who finds fame and nookie after putting on a superhero costume and getting his ass kicked.

Aaron Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, a high school geek who, in an attempt to provide meaning for his life, decides to become a superhero. Ordering a wet suit off the Internet and arming himself with a pair of batons, Dave takes to the streets as Kick-Ass — the world’s first official superhero (even if he doesn’t officially have superpowers).

Along for the journey are a trio of fellow vigilantes: Hit Girl, a cute-as-a-button pre-teen girl played by Chloe Moretz who will gladly rip your head off and show it to you; Big Daddy, a former cop and Hit Girl’s father played by Nic Cage in a weird amalgam of Greg Brady and Adam West’s Batman; and Red Mist, an even bigger dork then Lizewski with a dark past played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Like I mentioned above, the move takes massive liberties with the source material — especially in the film’s climax. Fortunately, much like Vaughn’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust managed to build upon a great book to make an amazing movie, the changes in Kick-Ass don’t stick out like a sore thumb and actually lead to a pretty satisfying ending — though I do miss one particular twist about Cage’s Big Daddy character that was left out of the movie.

If you are thinking of taking your kids to see the movie because of the colorful costumes and peppy tween superhero — think again! The movie is as violent as a Charles Manson slumber party and four-letter words are thrown around more then feces at a chimpanzee retirement home.

Kick-Ass is like a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Richard Donner — a big, sweeping epic film that’s not afraid to get down and dirty with blood, guts and dismemberment.

In one particularly QT-move, the soundtrack almost exclusively of a lot of pop songs and score music ripped straight from other films. Much like it does in Tarantino’s films, this musical choice helps to build a sense of familiarity with the subject matter and makes it easier for audiences to associate with the fantastical violence being perpetrated on screen by a 12-year-old girl with a butterfly knife. Moments where 3 Doors Down’s Kryptonite blends seamlessly into Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation help to create a pop culture pastiche that easily sells a world where a teenage kid can associate so much with fiction that he decides to become a four-color crime fighter.

The movie is a blast, through and through. Hopefully it will open big when it hits theaters on April 16. The buzz that will erupt around the movie after SXSW should help in that regard.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the film  at SXSW this weekend, brace yourself for a very long month until you get your own chance to have your ass kicked.

Category: Headliners
Director: Matthew Vaughan

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