So much hype! Such controversy! What’s one expected to think about it?? Either I say it’s not-actually-that-great and get lumped in with the knee-jerk ignoramuses at the Daily Mail, or I say it’s awesome and I’m jumping on a not-very-clever bandwagon. *sigh* – what’s a FanGirl to do… See it for myself, and then over-analyse.
SO – what’s good about it? First off, Kick Ass is quite clever, right from its simple premise: an ordinary kid with no super-powers (unlike SpiderMan) and no means (unlike Batman) decides to create his own super-hero persona and go out and help people. So far, so fantastic! Add to this the charisma of our lead actor, Aaron Johnson (John Lennon from Nowhere Boy) and his droopy but witty sidekicks, and some nice set-ups as he tries out the necessities of costuming, attempted martial arts, and the ever-important “attitude”. Soon Kick-Ass (as he names himself) is renowned for his masked good deeds, and gathering quite a following on YouTube.
Enter the other players in our comic book drama: Mark Strong is the main baddy, luminous in blood orange outfits, all twisted lip and cold calculation. Nicolas Cage returns to our screens in a (thankfully) decent role, which is hilarious in its juxtaposition between soppy, doting father to the 11-year old Hit Girl, and Big Daddy, his super-hero alter-ego whose falsely-applied goatee disguises a deadly gunslinger completely lacking in empathy.
Hit Girl is one of the gems of the film – the 13 year old actress (from (500) Days of Summer) is Chloe Moretz, sure to become as big a star as Abigail Breslin and Dakota Fanning before her. Apart from her utterance of the dreaded “C” word (certainly shocking for one so young, yet in fact delivered in so throwaway a fashion that, frankly, if the Mail and other critics hadn’t leapt on it right away, plenty of viewers may not even have noticed), she gets to have the most fun – playing an accomplished female assassin with enormous wit and self-possession. All her scenes are superb, and you can’t help but admire her as totally cool.
The lighting, photography and soundtrack make this film a very exciting watch – the colours are super-vibrant, like Dick Tracy (that is, er, like a comic book) and most of the shots are hyper-stylised, lending to the hyperbolic nature of the story and the action sequences. This was never meant to be real-life – and so the controversy surrounding the film (including concerns about its being excessively violent) is really a nonsense. Kick Ass is a teenage boy’s dream sequence, and given there is a teenage boy in most of us, the film is a blast to watch.
So, where does it fall down? Well… it’s not THAT clever – writer Jane Goldman pretty much pulls together clichés from other films and lobs them at us with a trebuchet. We’re watching reruns of Spider Man a lot of the time (hiding your identity from friends/the woman you love; going up against a rival super-hero) as we waft towards a pretty-damn-cool fight scene finale reminiscent of The Matrix and Kill Bill. The music is borrowed from other films (but it’s still awesome – so that’s OK) – so whatever Kick Ass can’t claim in originality, it still delivers in terms of a rollicking night at the flicks.