I was fortunate enough to secure a double pass to a special advanced screening of Kick Ass on Monday 15 March 2010. Held at the School of Visual Arts School in Chelsea it appears this advance screening was put on purely for the key comic book proprietors of NYC to build buzz (and encourage sales of the comic book and related merchandise naturally) ahead of the movie’s nation-wide release on April 16.
Looking around at the packed theatre noshing away on their free drinks and popcorn prior to the screening, it got me to thinking… putting on the movie a month in advance for all these comic book aficionados who become up-in-arms if even a stitch in a costume is portrayed incorrectly in the film version of their beloved comics, this movie must be good right?
Quick answer- yes!
I found this a whole-heartedly enjoyable film, like a naughtier, R rated version of the first Spiderman. Taking every boys fantasy of what it would be like to be an ordinary superhero and bringing it to life, Kick Ass is a dialogue rich adventure ride that takes genre conventions and turns them on their head. It pays tribute to the rich history of the comic book movie, and yet in the process manages to create something wholly fresh and original. There is insider jokes littered throughout the movie gently satirising the genre while at the same time paying tribute to what has gone before in the comic cannon. These jokes, about Spiderman, Batman, X-Men and even TV cult favourite Lost generated the biggest laughs in my screening, as if all the comic book aficionado’s were getting secret acclimation on-screen.
The basic premise of the film follows Dave Lizewski a normal high school student (i.e.: invisible to girls, hormone crazed and kinda a geek) and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. After getting his ‘ass-kick-ed’ on his first attempt to be a hero to society, Dave returns from hospital ‘looking like Wolverine’ with damaged nerve endings and steel plates through-out his body.
This allows him to fend off some thugs in a second attempt, that quickly becomes an internet phenomenon on You Tube. The infinitely superior real-life super heroes ‘Big Daddy’ and daughter ‘Hit-Girl’ track him down (via My Space – another subtle joke) and the story follows the classic good versus mafia bad showdown.
The movie throws in McLovin in a turn as head mafia bosses son ‘Red-Mist’ and Chloe Moretz in what should be a Best Supporting Actress nomination portrayal of tough as nails (and gutter mouth) 12-year-old Hit Girl and some sparkling dialogue ala Tarantino, i.e. where dialogue follows violence and uneasy laughter
A scene that exemplifies this, involves some hard-core violence and Dave facing an impending death, where he starts thinking of all the things he may miss out on in life, including “Finding out what really happened on Lost” these scenes are reminiscent of Tarantino and his seminal classic Pulp Fiction were you find yourself laughing despite the presence of severe violence. Like Tarantino, I think this movie will provoke a lot of discussion regarding the comic book movie and follow Pulp into cult-dome.
After the screening a special Q&A session was held with the creators Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr, who told an interesting story involving how the director Matthew Vaughn funded the movie himself as no studio wanted it, then sold it back for double the original asking price.
Really this movie lives up to its name- it is ‘Kick-Ass’ and hope it does well at the box-office, so that we can see a sequel!