A while back, I reviewed the entirety of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass series, from issue 1 to the finale and I famously did not like it. I felt that it was fairly pedestrian and not at all exciting or innovative, which I think is more of a critique on the way Mark Millar hyped it to the fans than anything, but with a book like Kick-Ass, that hype is tied to the book in such a way that they feel like intertwined strands of DNA. I did however make one claim that I have been waiting to either see proven or disproven with the release of Matthew Vaughn’s film adaptation. I said; “All that having been said, everything that works against this book will work FOR it as a movie. Trust me on this one.” I honestly believed that. The concept was solid, the shock value was there. Mainstream audiences would eat this shit up. Was I right?
I believe I was.
The film version of Kick-Ass works infinitely better than its source material. The absurdity of it all leaps off the screen in ways that it never did on the page, and I think that the writers and especially director Matthew Vaughn understood what could be done with the concept presented in the original comic. One of the main gripes that the internet community had with the book was that it diverged from the original concept of “what if someone really became a street-level superhero” around the same time Hit-Girl showed up and went all Frank Miller on some bad guys. From then on out it was just another comic book, really. Once again, this is more of a gripe at Millar’s hyping of the concept than the book itself, as expectations were raised and then shut down with no regard to the actual quality of the book. In the film version that same divergent path is followed, with realism being thrown out the door headfirst. For the movie however, this doesn’t seem to be a problem, as all the marketing didn’t lead you to believe that this would be a serious look at real-world superheroes. When that first trailer hit and showed little Chloe Moretz jumping around like a spider-monkey wielding sharp pointy objects, people knew what to expect.
I think that’s what the movie boils down to in the long run; expectations.
Whereas the comic failed to deliver on the premise that Mark Millar sold us on in the promotional circuit, the film lives up to its promises in every possible way. It’s a violent fanservice film that fanboys should eat up if they don’t get caught up in the minutia of what was changed from panel to film. At the same time it’s a well made, and dare I say it, fun action film that general audiences should get a kick out of as well if they don’t get offended by all the swearing or violence.
Part of the reason why this film will resonate so well with people is that, I believe that n making the film, they were smart in casting people who didn’t look down on the script. Nicholas Cage is admittedly a huge nerd, so he has no reason not to hold back and I think I enjoyed him in this film more than anything since Raising Arizona. Our lead hero played by Aaron Johnson has that Michael Cera-esque everyman feel without being as annoying as Michael Cera. McLovin puts in a good turn as the Red Mist, almost making us forget he was McLovin for a little bit. And Mark Strong who could play every villain in every movie ever (not a stretch really, in a few weeks he’ll be the baddie in Russel Crowe’s Robin Hood flick) and I would never get tired of it. The cast just connects in this one, I don’t think anybody is going to argue that point.
But what everybody is going to talk about will be Hit-Girl. I read somewhere that she would be the “Hans Landa” of 2010. In terms of a breakout role, I absolutely agree. She may not win an academy award for it, but Chloe Moretz just became the go-to girl under fifteen for any role that requires any sort of heavy lifting whatsoever. After a film like this, anything else would be a cakewalk and I expect to see her have a great career ahead of her.
I really enjoyed this film. More than I thought I would. There had been some negative word of mouth coming my way from people who had checked out advance screenings and even a few from assholes who bootlegged it off the net, but I loved the hell out of this movie and will probably see it again in the theaters before all is said and done.
I won’t give it a perfect score, but I have to admit, it’s pretty close.