Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #162
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.