Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day Thirty-Seven: Kick-Ass

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #162
Year: 2010
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Aaron Johnson and Chloë Moretz

Enjoy this post, Kick-Ass lovers. This is probably the only year that someone doing an IMDb Top 250 blog will be able to write about it. When people criticize the list for being biased toward new, popular movies, this is pretty much exactly what they mean. Since it was on the list on the day that I set out to write this blog, though, I get to write about it. I'm more than okay with that, because Kick-Ass is one of my four or five favorite comic book movies of all time, and I watch every goddamn comic book movie that comes out.

Kick-Ass is a simple enough concept for a comic, but it still feels fresh. In an eight issue miniseries by Mark Millar with pencils by John Romita, Jr., a young man with no superpowers of any kind decides to become a superhero despite that handicap, and rises to popularity on the Internet when a video showing him protecting a victim of gang violence is posted to YouTube. He decides to call himself Kick-Ass, meets two highly trained weapons masters called Big Daddy and Hit-Girl bent on vigilante justice, and is drawn into a trap involving a fourth superhero called Red Mist. This is all brought to the screen mostly faithfully by director Matthew Vaughn, and in the places where the adaptation deviates from Millar's original script, it actually improves upon the source material. Where Millar sometimes goes a little wild with comic book nerd in-gags, Vaughn offers a more universally appealing look at the world of Kick-Ass – and he keeps most of the over-the-top violence and foul language that makes the comic what it is.

By far the highlight of the film is the way that Chloë Moretz plays Hit-Girl, a thirteen-year old girl with a taste for homicide and a filthy vocabulary. Like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver and Natalie Portman in The Professional before her, she plays the adolescent girl who is wise beyond her years through no fault of her own, and like those other actresses, she brings a combination of badassness and tragedy to the role. Also like those other actresses, it's obvious that she has a bright future ahead of her. Sure, Kick-Ass isn't a Scorsese or a Besson, but it doesn't try to be. All it tries to be is a fun popcorn movie that will elicit some "Aw, hell yeah!" moments as well as some uproarious laughter out of its audience – not at all an uncommon goal for a Mark Millar work – and in that right, it was a blistering success.

So I think we've succeeded in proving that Kick-Ass is a very fun movie. But there was really never any question about that, unless you're Roger Ebert. The real question is whether it should be on the IMDb Top 250. As of press time, it's one of four 2010 films on the list, along with Inception, Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. The list stretches back to 1921's The Kid, which allows for a total of 2.8 movies per year. That doesn't make 4 a ridiculous number at all (even though it is only August), and I don't think it's fair to say that these movies only made the list because they're fresh in peoples' minds. There's plenty of years on the list that are better represented than 2010, so that can't be a criterion used to keep it off the list. Personally, I think Kick-Ass belongs. For what it attempts to do, hardly any movie has done it better. It shares list real estate with fellow comic book movies The Dark Knight, Batman Begins and V for Vendetta, which, if you added Iron Man and X2 to that list, would be all of the greatest comic book movies of all time. It's a controversial pick, to be sure, and some of the non-comic book movie company it keeps on the IMDb Top 250 could inspire eye-rolling in the first degree, but I stand behind the placement of Kick-Ass at #162. Let's just see if it's there at this time next year.

The Good: You heard it here (and everywhere else on the Internet): Chloë Moretz is going places. I seriously wanted every scene to just be Hit-Girl swearing and killing.

The Bad: Christopher Mintz-Plasse sucks so bad. He was funny in Superbad, but that's because he is probably just like McLovin in real life. Let's try to keep that mug and that voice out of all movies in the future. Thanks, Hollywood.

The Skinny: I dig the placement at #162.


  1. Haha whatev, Red Mist was one of my favorite parts of this movie.
    I had never read the graphic novel or anything before I saw this and I loved it. I actually went twice. Basically you hit the nail on the head with "fun popcorn movie that will elicit some "Aw, hell yeah!" moments" because that's exactly what it was.
    In my opinion, this movie is just as good as the Kill Bills (which are both on the list) and deserves to be on the top 250. I think that How to Train Your Dragon will be the 2010er that gets knocked off. Good music and animation but the story and side characters left much to be desired.
    Kick Ass deserves a spot.

  2. I'll be even more controversial and say that this is probably going to end up my #1 movie of the year. Yes, ahead of Inception. The two are apples and oranges, but I can't think of the last time I had this much fun at a movie. It's a popcorn movie, but you don't have to turn your brain off like you do with, say, The A-Team or (god forbid) Transformers. I completely agree that every change that Vaughn made was for the better. He injected some much needed heart and emotion (especially during Big Daddy's final scene) and changed the tone from cynical to campy fun. It's superbly cast: I can't imagine any one else in any of the roles. The only reason this movie worked at all is because of Vaughn's refusal to compromise on it. When every studio rejected it (due to Hit Girl being too much of a BAMF), he financed it out of his own pocket so he wouldn't have to change anything, and it paid off. I don't really know what the long-term impact of this movie will be, but if there's any justice in the world, Hit Girl will be remembered as one of the most iconic comic book characters of this decade, along with RDJ's Iron Man and Heath Ledger's Joker.

    As for Christopher Mintz-Plasse, I thought he was great. He wouldn't have worked if it had been the Red Mist from the comic, but I thought he did a fine job.

  3. Hit Girl was a good character, but I don't get why everyone is creaming themselves about it. I don't think she "made" the movie.

  4. Started amazing but the further the worse. Don't know why you loved the Hit-Girl part. Cage and Hit-Girl part bored me and imo too violent w/o any use.

    First 30 minutes or so 9/10, rest was worse.

    Kick-Ass 7,5/10

  5. Re: Christopher Mintz-Plasse - The AV Club had an AVQ&A a couple of weeks ago where they asked their writers to say what actors were distracting to them in movies. For example, if when watching Hancock you said "It's Will Smith/the Fresh Prince beating up guys" instead of buying the character, then Will Smith was that guy for you. I think Christopher Mintz-Plasse is that guy for me, or at least one of those guys. Every time he's on screen, I hear that nasally (?) voice and see that unmistakably goofy face and all I can think of is McLovin. Couldn't quite get past that here either, especially when he's just the mob boss' kid and not dressed like Red Mist. Didn't ruin the movie or anything, just wasn't a highlight.

    And @ Cameron and Guntars...seriously? You didn't think a foul-mouthed weapons master in the body of a preteen girl was, well, fucking awesome? Man, I must be really immature or something. I applauded every time she said or did something little girls aren't supposed to do.

  6. Definitely, one of the best films of this year so far. Inception, in my book, is still better since it had me pondering for several days after viewing.

    The funny thing about Kick-Ass is the movie rights were sold before the first issue was published! Millar pitched the idea to Vaughn he liked it so he and Jane wrote the movie while Millar did the comic.

    I love when a comic book movie is made by someone who really understands the material or get insight from creator themselves.

    One of my favorite comic movies of all time is Sin City. It was so close to the comic it was not even funny. The art style related to the source material very well.

    Kick-Ass doesn't look like it was ripped straight from the pages, onto the silver screen. However, it follows the story close enough to appease the fans of the comic.

    I also felt it was a challenge to not see Chis Mintz-Plasse as McLovin. He will probably be fighting this stigma until he does something radically different. Overall, though he did a good job on the character. However, in the comic his betrayal of Kick-Ass was much more of a shocker than the film version.

    Big Daddy was the character that went through the most changes. The comic version was at first much like a Punisher rip off. He was thought to be a cop who's wife was murdered by the mob but, in reality he was dorky comic fan/accountant who went after the Mob for a "villain" not vengeance.

    Essentially, making him look like just another sick fucked up asshole who deserves what's coming to him and he made his daughter into a monster for no reason at all.

    I like the change in the movie to actually make it a story of vengeance. By doing this, I now feel for him and Hit-Girl and hope they succeed in taking down The mob. Sure it's a superhero cliche` but, the comic just leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you feel absolutely cheated.

    Big Daddy's costume in the comic was essentially a heavy jacket and matching pants complete a mask that allowed his hair to flow free.

    The movie version makes him look like the latest version of Batman. However, it works since Cage gives a campy 60's Batman performance, while also acting like The Punisher.

    I can't wait to see the sequel.

  7. "Essentially, making him look like just another sick fucked up asshole who deserves what's coming to him and he made his daughter into a monster for no reason at all.

    I like the change in the movie to actually make it a story of vengeance. By doing this, I now feel for him and Hit-Girl and hope they succeed in taking down The mob. Sure it's a superhero cliche` but, the comic just leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you feel absolutely cheated."

    Absolutely agree. The idea that he would do that to Mindy just for shits and giggles made it a little TOO fucked up, and it completely took me out of the story.