Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kicking and screaming

It's very hard to make a good super hero movie. It's even harder to make a good superhero movie about regular people trying to be superheroes. Plus, it's been done before, so you can't even rely on the novelty factor.

Kick Ass is a valiant effort to make a super hero movie about real people. It falls a little short because it relies too much on flashy action sequences that defy the whole "real people" concept.
I really loved director Matthew Vaughn's prior work, Stardust and Layer Cake. And the problem here unfortunately is the direction. The script isn't all bad. The characters are believable. Satisfactory development and "real life only a little better" dialogue. But the look of this film, and the action sequences, are so stylistic and cartoony that they overpower the charming characters completely. The colors are bright and garish, the movements and explosions exaggerated and often defy physics.
This wouldn't be so disappointing if the characters weren't so likable. They have good motives, sad backgrounds and are constantly reminding you that this is supposed to be the real world. They seem totally out of place in this bright, Hollywood world. I wouldn't have been so bothered by it if the characters weren't frequently mentioning that "this isn't a movie", then something explodes or the bad guys burst in, and you see that it is a movie. So don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining, Matthew Vaughn. Don't tell me "this is real life" then show a foul-mouthed little girl whirling through the air with two guns blazing. You can do one or the other, but not both at the same time. It's annoying and distracting.

Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse- all the actors are very good. They did what they could with what they were given. I think I would have liked Big Daddy and Hit Girl to have the movie all to themselves, as they were the only two characters who seemed to walk the line between reality/movie well. It was also a shame that Mark Strong didn't have more to do. He's fantastic when you give him a role he can sink his teeth into (See Sherlock Holmes and RocknRolla)

And it's a pity that the action sequences don't match the concept of the plot, because they're awesome. I mean pure awesome. I mean you could easily watch this movie and just skip the parts between the action sequences and be really, really entertained. I just wish the stuff between the action sequences and the action sequences could have happily co-existed somehow, but with a script like that, Vaughn should have known better. I would have even preferred if everything that happened outside the costumes was differed visually than the in-costume parts.

So, I was left wanting more, but not in a good way. On one hand I wanted more action superhero flick, on the other I wanted more "real people try to be superheroes and this is what happens"-type of movie. The balance between the two can be found, see Batman Begins, Shaun of the Dead (not super hero, but supernatural at least) or Boondock Saints. Zombieland had similar issues.

Can we please quit making these "I'm a regular dorky white guy who fights zombies/bad guys/vampires/the mafia" movies? At this point we're beating a dead horse and playing into the very cliches these movies first sought to spoof.

I'm not entirely sure if I can recommend you watch this movie. I'd advise you wait until it plays on some basic cable channel and watch the action sequences. Or just read the comic books, because this looks much better than the movie:



Nena Nadine said...

I wanted to see it but then we bought Defendor. A Woody Harrelson non-superhero superhero movie. It was very good and I didn't think Kick Ass could be any better. I'll wait to borrow it from a friend. Thanks for the review!

Noel said...

I was unaware Defendor existed! I'll have to put that on my Netflix. What did you think of it?

Nena Nadine said...

I really liked it. It's really sad. Just to worn you. I thought It was going to be more light hearted and silly. It's very realistic, funny and Woody is great (of course).

Defendor went completely under the radar. Very small theater release. No advertising. I herd about it on a movie trailer website and then sometime later found it on the dvd rack for sale. I think because of Kick Ass. Just like In Cold Blood was to Capote. Note: I never seen In Cold Blood.

Noel said...

I look forward to watching it. I also have not seen In Cold Blood, but I adored Capote. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorites.